Billie Eilish is making empathetic "alternative trap" you need to hear
The singer rejects her pop label and talks commiserating music, self-love, A$AP Rocky’s insecurities, and songwriting in character.
A simple Google search of Billie Eilish’s name will give you déjà vu: “Pop’s Most Impressive.” “Pop’s Next It Girl.” “Pop’s Prodigy.” “Pop’s Best New Hope.” But it’s an ironic distinction for the singer.
“I’ve never really thought of myself as ‘pop,’” she told REVOLT TV in a sit-down interview just days before embarking on her first-ever tour. “Because when I hear the word ‘pop,’ I hear, like, ‘bubblegum-princess-jump rope-little girl’ and I hate that that’s what it’s become.”
As evidence, there’s nothing sugary, or sugar-coated for that matter, about Eilish’s don’t smile at me EP: released in August, produced entirely by her brother Finneas, and co-written solely by the siblings. Whether it’s over stealthy, churning creep-beats, bouncy acoustic guitars, plucky ukeleles, or slow-moving piano, what remains consistent is the kind of poetic bite found in diary scrawls.
On “my boy,” Eilish explores a relationship without rose-colored glasses on, and does so in a jazzy drawl: “My boy’s being sus’ / He was shady enough / But now he’s just a shadow / My boy loves his friends / Just like I love my split ends / And by that I mean / He cuts ’em off.” She just as easily drags an unwanted imitator on “COPYCAT”: “Call me calloused, call me cold / You’re italic, I’m in bold / Call me cocky, watch your tone / You better love me, ’cause you’re just a clone.” Continue reading below.
Video produced by: Derek Reed
They’re lyrics that eclipse her age—at 15 years old, it’s another media-inflicted obsession she would admittedly like to reject (“You can be any age and go through any thing”)—and have become tangibly relatable due to their self-awareness and honesty. Her intentions behind them are equally as honorable: to commiserate, combat idealized imagery, and scare a few people in the process.
“I wanna hear more from inside here,” Eilish said pointing to her chest. “Instead of just in your mouth, because you can say anything. Like, I wanna know A$AP Rocky’s insecurities. Right? I just wanna hear people’s actual real-life feelings instead of, like, ‘I’m the greatest.’…So, I don’t know, don’t try to please anybody, just try to make people not hate themselves.”
We talked to Billie Eilish about her age, the label she prefers, songwriting while in character, accepting sadness, individuality and self-love. Watch the interview above.
‘don’t smile at me’ is available everywhere and Billie Eilish is currently on tour. Tickets available here.