20 Things You Don’t Know About Billie Eilish
Not many people can claim to be as busy as Billie Eilish, especially not at her age. At just 18, she has already nabbed the honour of having the best performing album of 2019 in the US, and is the youngest person ever to win in the four main Grammy’s categories in the same year. All of this, as well as her fascinatingly unique music videos and iconic looks, have set her up to become the next reigning queen of pop – and she’s already pushing the charts to embrace her twisted take on the genre.
With that said, it’s not just the meaning of her spooky music videos that have remained a mystery, as she herself has been pretty cagey in interviews in the past. However, the release of her album as led to a flurry of both new info and interest, which is why we’re counting down the top 20 things you might not know about Billie Eilish.
20. She started singing professionally aged 8
They say practice makes perfect, and Eilish has definitely put the hours in as far as singing is concerned.
Not content with singing every day at home she took things to the next level when she was just eight years old – as that was when she joined the Los Angeles Children’s Choir.
That much singing alone would constitute a busy schedule for any eight-year-old, but she supplemented that with 11 hours of dance a week.
She managed to fit in all these activities thanks to her family allowing her to be homeschooled from a young age, allowing her more power over her schedule than the average schoolkid.
Her homeschooling even catered to her love of the arts with a more creativity-focused curriculum, which no doubt stood her in good stead for her future career.
19. She wrote her first song at 11
Though her brother wrote many of the songs on her latest album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go, Eilish has been writing her own music and lyrics for a very long time.
In fact, she sat down and wrote her first full song at age 11, and the topic she picked is not what you might expect.
The song is called Fingers Crossed, and is about dealing with what’s left of the world following a zombie apocalypse.
Even better, she was inspired to write the track after becoming obsessed with the AMC show The Walking Dead.
This is exceptionally on-brand for Eilish, who later went on to write whole albums with a signature macabre theme.
18. Her whole family is musical
Eilish might have been the first in her family to make headlines with her music, but she’s far from the only one in the household who can carry a tune.
When she was growing up, both her mum and brother were constantly writing songs and singing around her, and her dad spent many evenings playing the piano and ukulele.
Bonus fact: her parents are obviously multi-talented people, since both of them – Maggie Baird and Patrick O’Connell – are famous actors and screenwriters in their own right.
This encouragement early on meant Eilish was unafraid to pursue a career in the arts, and her parents have continued to be nothing but supportive.
In fact, her whole family are so on board with her career that they even dressed up as her and posted it as their family’s New Year’s greeting.
17. She adores horror movies
Eilish has gained a bit of a reputation for dark imagery in her music videos, and it turns out that’s by design.
Aside from wanting to back up the creepy vibe of the lyrics, she deliberately drew on the movies and TV shows that inspired her, which included some pretty scary picks.
We’ve already addressed The Walking Dead, but she also grew up obsessed with American Horror Story, and couldn’t get enough of Get Out and The Babadook.
She also talked about loving The Human Centipede, but I doubt we’ll see that referenced in her music videos any time soon.
Eilish is far from the only artist to have filled their music videos with horror references, but she’s the first in a little while to blend a horror-adjacent tone with such mainstream success.
16. Her middle name is Pirate
Lots of celebrities give their kids weird names, so considering that both her parents are a big deal in the showbiz world, it seems like Eilish might have gotten off easy.
However, she does have a pretty wacky middle name that we’re surprised she doesn’t talk about more often, since it’s not the kind of thing you usually see on a birth certificate.
Turns out, her full name is Billie Eilish Pirate Baird O’Connell, which makes her middle name Pirate! Maybe we’ll be getting a nautical-themed concept album next?
Either way, it’s worth mentioning that her brother dealt with none of the naming strife that his sister has, since he was simply called Finneas Baird O’Connell at birth.
Although, that simple name is apparently too much bother for him, since professionally he goes by only Finneas.
15. She got into music by accident
It’s hard to imagine Eilish doing anything but music now, but singing and songwriting wasn’t always her main passion.
She actually started out as a pretty dedicated dancer, and only got roped into recording a song when her dance teacher asked her to.
As the story goes, Eilish was asked to record a song for her class to choreograph and dance to, and her brother just happened to have a track he was working on.
Of course, she had to spend some time convincing him to work on the song with her instead of her band, but when she did the result was the start of a brand new passion.
Someone should really thank that dance teacher for having the foresight to create a global pop icon.
14. She’s a social media sensation
With over 12 million followers on Instagram alone, it’s fair to say that Billie Eilish is slaying the social media game.
In fact, considering her cutting-edge fashion and signature hair – whether it’s blue, grey or green and black – I wouldn’t be surprised if some people came across her profile before they ever came across her music.
Despite her reach though, she’s actually reluctant to use Instagram, and is sceptical of social media as a whole.
She even called it “insanely dangerous” in an interview with Harper’s Bazaar, which is a pretty strong statement.
She went on to explain her attitude, saying “It can completely ruin a relationship, a friendship, yourself. It can ruin how you feel or how you feel like you look.”
13. She has suffered from Tourette’s syndrome her entire life
Back in 2018, video compilations of Eilish started to surface online, which showed her dealing with a variety of physical tics.
In an Instagram post addressing the videos, she explained that she has dealt with Tourette’s syndrome for almost her entire life, and has accepted her physical tics as a part of her.
She even went a step further in showing how comfortable she was with that aspect of her life, claiming that even though the videos were created to mock her, she actually found them “low-key funny”.
Her fans were immediately supportive in their replies and in comments, saying that Eilish’s willingness to accept herself made them feel prouder of their own differences.
This is an ongoing theme for both Eilish and her fans, since in all areas of her life and career, she has garnered praise for being unapologetic about her choices.
12. Her brother is her most consistent collaborator
Eilish has collaborated with a variety of other musicians over the years, including Vince Staples and Khalid, and more recently Justin Bieber.
However, her main collaborator is actually her brother, who has been working in the music industry even longer than she has.
Initially, he just wrote songs for his own band, but he then went on to write songs and lyrics for his sister.
He even recorded her music in a tiny studio in his bedroom, so small that Eilish actually recorded most of the vocals while sitting on his bed!
Of course, he also accompanies her on tour and joins her own stage, usually playing instruments at the back while Eilish bounces around much closer to the crowd.
11. She has some pretty surprising influences
Billie Eilish’s music is pretty genre-defying, so it’s not surprising that she’d be inspired by a lot of different stuff.
With that said, she’s talked a lot about the artists she considers most formative to her, and some of them are pretty unexpected.
For example, she loves hip hop artists like Tyler, The Creator and Childish Gambino, as well as other female icons like Lana Del Rey.
However, she also has a special place in her heart for Green Day, and has a serious soft spot for The Beatles – who knew?
Her wide-ranging tastes help to explain why you can find fans of her music in almost every genre or subculture, as her own fanbase has become similarly diverse.
10. She’s obsessed with sneakers
As far as celebrities go, Billie Eilish is far from the most extravagant individual out there, but she does have one vice.
Rather than spending inordinate amounts of money on cars, purses or gold chains, her splurge purchases are pretty much limited to shoes.
No Chanel boots or Louboutin stilettos for her though, since her preferred kind of footwear is designer sneakers.
Billie Eilish has such a love of name-brand kicks that she even appeared on a YouTube show dedicated to sneaker shopping.
Across one episode she ran up a bill of $2,388.72, buying one pair each of Blazers, Air Force Ones, and Hyperdunks, all sneakers in the Nike/Off-White collaboration range.
9. One of her music videos is based on fan art
Many Billie Eilish music videos feature unnerving or boundary-pushing imagery, but maybe the most infamous is the black oil tears in When the Party’s Over.
Though Eilish has made a point of being deeply involved in the creative process for her music videos, the idea for the black tears wasn’t actually hers.
Instead, the idea came from a fan of hers, who gifted Eilish a painting of her crying the signature tears.
She loved the image and the mix of beauty and horror contained within it, and immediately tried to figure out a way to include it in her album cycle.
The risky motif paid off, as people were immediately buzzing about the creepy image and what it meant.
8. She’s not susceptible to peer pressure
Being thrust into the spotlight is a difficult adjustment for any performer to have to make, even if it is gratifying to suddenly have all your hard work pay off.
However, that adjustment gets harder the younger you are when it happens, and Eilish’s big break occurred before she even turned 18.
Due to her becoming an overnight superstar as a teenager, many were worried that she’d soon be heading down a dark path, but Eilish soon put to rest any rumours of bad behaviour.
She said in several interviews that ever since being in the spotlight she has abstained from drugs, and hasn’t let anyone pressure her into acting in a way that doesn’t represent her.
She even went so far as to write the song Xanny about being around so many people whose lives had been damaged by addiction, even if she was clear about the song being more of a “stay safe” PSA than a total anti-drug one.
7. Her unusual fashion has a purpose
Despite topping the charts, dominating at award ceremonies and constantly appearing in the pages of magazines, Billie Eilish is hardly your typical pop princess.
Though she wears as many designer pieces as any other celebrity, her outfits are far more street style in nature, and she even hits the red carpets in her signature boxy silhouette.
It might seem as though she’s trying to make a statement for the statement’s own sake, but the truth is her fashion choices have a very specific purpose.
As a star, she is constantly photographed, with journalists speculating on every aspect of her life, including her body.
Eilish chose clothes that would hide her figure for that exact reason, realising that she felt far more powerful when fans and the media alike couldn’t tell anything about her weight, build or figure.
6. She’s a huge pop fangirl
Despite not being your stereotypical pop icon, Billie Eilish has some serious love for the other queens of pop also in the charts right now.
She’s been specifically vocal about her love for Lana Del Rey, whose own tendency towards individuality and weirdness endeared her to Eilish from an early age.
However, she has also been a vocal supporter of Ariana Grande, even seeming to be embarrassed when winning in categories they were both nominated in, such as Best Album and Record of the Year at the 2020 Grammy’s.
Several photos of the two of them have gone viral, due to their polar opposite appearance but absolute joy in meeting each other and hanging out.
In turn, the more established pop stars have been nothing but complimentary of Billie Eilish, praising her ability to bring pop into a new and more interesting era.
5. She’s done vocals for Hollywood movies
It might seem like Billie Eilish’s success happened overnight, but the truth is she’s been working for longer than you might realise.
Before she was selling out arenas and headlining festivals, she was working in a stable cleaning out horses, and doing music work on the side for extra income.
That mostly took the form of backing vocals for cinema, and she quickly worked up to having some serious credits to her name.
For example, she did backing vocals on the Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie, as well as a popular instalment in the X-Men franchise, 2016’s X-Men: Apocolypse.
Not bad for what essentially amounted to a Saturday job to finance her horseriding habit.
4. Her music has ended up in some controversial places
Despite having never being involved in any major controversy because of her own actions, Billie Eilish hasn’t entirely managed to avoid drama.
Controversy hit her twice for the same reason, which was that her songs had appeared on the 13 Reasons Why soundtrack.
Eilish’s song Bored featured on the soundtrack for season one, while her collaboration with Khalid Lovely featured on the soundtrack for season two.
While the songs definitely fit the tone of the show, and were popular with the show’s target demographic, Eilish herself was criticised for agreeing to lend her songs to the Netflix program.
The reason was that the show included some graphic depictions of mental health and suicide, against the warnings and advice of qualified therapists and medical practitioners. Eilish’s fans were disappointed given her previous record of supporting victims of mental illness, which they felt as though she was betraying.
3. She really does hate people smiling at her
In 2017, Billie Eilish embarked on a tour called the Don’t Smile at Me Tour, named after her first EP which was released in the same year.
You’d be forgiven for thinking this was just an edgy title to show that her music was not ultra-bubbly pop-fodder, but the truth is actually more interesting.
Eilish has said in interviews that she really does hate it when people smile at her in the street, because she feels the societal obligation to smile back.
Why is that such a problem? Well, Eilish has said that smiling on command makes her feel weak and powerless, as though she is no longer in control of her own body.
That’s why you’ll always catch her frowning on the red carpet, since it helps her to feel strong and in control.
2. She’s genre-defying
We’ve already discussed that Eilish listens to a lot of different genres of music, and has fans that listen to a lot of different genres too.
However, what’s also interesting is that Eilish’s own genre is incredibly hard to pin down, even for people whose job it is to categorise music.
Over the course of her career so far, Eilish has been categorised as making everything from straightforward pop, to indie pop, alternative pop and electro-pop.
That’s only the beginning though, as critics have also pointed to the gothic imagery of her music videos, and the more grunge and shoegaze feel of her whispery vocals.
In short, Billie Eilish’s music escapes definition, but that hasn’t stopped it from being massively popular.
1. She’s a total Belieber
Billie Eilish is one of the biggest stars in the world, so it’s hard to imagine her getting starstruck over anyone.
With that said, she is also a teenager, so it’s actually pretty understandable that she’s obsessed with Justin Bieber.
— Justin Bieber (@justinbieber) July 11, 2019
Eilish revealed on Carpool Karaoke that she was obsessed with the pop star, and had been ever since she was younger.
Her obsession was so deep that it even impacted her career, since she got so nervous before a performance where he was in the crowd that she felt like she couldn’t go on stage.
The two did eventually meet and even collaborate on a new version of her track Bad Guy, but that hasn’t helped her to get over her shyness.
Instead, she is apparently still haunted by the awkward times she has opted just to stare at him in public, which he definitely noticed.