She’s hot right now. En fuego hot. In the span of a year, Billie Eilish has ascended to the absolute apex of the pop music scene. A number 1 single, 15 billion views and streams and 4 sold-out North American tours. The superlatives are truly just and don’t do her justice. OMR founder Philipp Westermeyer caught up with Billie before her performance at Lollapalooza Berlin and discussed Soundcloud, luck and hard work and her creative process.
She’s the first woman born this millennium to top the charts, the youngest female to hold the top spot in a decade and the only lady ever to have 14 different tracks chart simultaneously. Dave Grohl, drummer of 90s grunge godfathers Nirvana, has compared her frenzied success to the circus that followed Nirvana in the early 90s. Her single “Bad guy” topped the charts in August, knocking off “the longest-leading Hot 100 No. 1 all-time, Old Town Road.
Eilish rarely does podcast interviews (this is her second-ever appearance) and never listens to them (“Podcasts give me headaches,” she says). When we sat down with her, it was right before her show at Lollapalooza Berlin. The place was full of young girls rocking Eilish’s trademark look of oversized clothes and long fingernails. She headlined the headliners. But her path to stardom was a serendipitous one.
From Dancer to pop star
Eilish did not start out with explicit music aspirations, but was a competitive dancer for a time. It was while she was dancing that her music career started. “I was in this one class and (a classmate) knew I made music. So he asked me if I could make a song for a dance. My brother and I made this song “Ocean Eyes,” which we literally recorded for him.” The song was never planned to be released, “we were just going to send it to him and say ‘there you go.’ But after we recorded it we just put it out. Within a day, (brother and co-songwriter) Finneas called me and told me it hit 1000 plays (on Soundcloud).” She says she’s not really sure how the track generated so many plays. “I thought at the time that a friend of mine who was really popular posted it and that was the only reason it got any notoriety.”
Soundcloud is the Goat
While that first recording gave Eilish her first taste of fame, Berlin-based Soundcloud provided Eilish with the platform to reach the masses. “Soundcloud is the only reason I am anything. 100%. We are in a time where anyone can make music which is so dope and Soundcloud is the only reason we can all do this.”
Luck, hard work or destiny?
Her meteoric rise is hard to pinpoint, with a litany of factors having converged to propel her to the top. “A friend asked me if it was luck, hard work or destiny that got me to where I am. I thought about it and realized it’s not one or the other. It was luck that someone heard “Ocean Eyes” and then that person shared it and then that person shared it and then it got huge. That’s luck,” she says. But Eilish was quick to point out that it was up to her what she did with that fortunate occurrence. “I could have just stopped right there, never do anything with music. It’s a little bit of luck and a lot of hard work. You have to take the things you get and work on them.”
To hear what Billie has to say on her status as a fashion icon, coming to grips with life on the road and what her creative process is like, check out the entire OMR Podcast with Billie Eilish.
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