With a new year, comes the weight of expectation on a new batch of artists, thrust into the spotlight and expected to set the agenda for the twelve months ahead. That's what The Hype List is about - a series of interviews, profiles and more highlighting who we think will be making a noise in 2019.
We’re told to give Billie Eilish’s mum a ring to get in touch with her for this interview. Pop’s latest wunderkind is on tour in the US when we grab her to say “you’re the best thing that’s gonna happen next year”, and yep, her parents are there too. Don’t be fooled by her age though; there’s a reason she’s our top tip. She sings about murdering her mates and cries black ink in her videos, and if that creeps you out, you better close your eyes for all of 2019.
What’s happening in the world of Billie Eilish?
Pretty much at the moment, it’s just tour, shows, not as much press as I’ve had before which is dope. But the shows have been really fun; we changed up the set because we only have like 12 songs out, there’s only so much you can do. I wanted to do even more, so I just wanted to make it as insane as possible, so now it’s crazy. We have this big ass spider on the stage that lights up and stuff, so it’s really dope.
That’s so cool. You’re coming to the UK next year, right?
Mhm. I’m so hype; it’s gonna be so sick.
So how’s your 2018 been?
My year has been crazy dude, oh my god. It’s so weird it’s been like over a year since my first tour, which is insane to me. But this year has been incredible. Horrifying, but also great. It was kind of everything, but as much as possible of everything, you know? Not like a little bit of everything, but like everything everything everything at once.
A lot of the shows have been really dope. I love playing shows; I love performing. I don’t know what highlights there’ve been; there’s been so many, but so many that aren’t. I feel like what was a highlight was – my dad just shouted it from the back of the car – was Music Midtown Atlanta, which was this festival I played there which was insane, it was like 40,000 people or something. It was so much fun; it was like such a moment.
It seems like you’ve blown up more this year than in 2017. How’s that been?
For sure. I’m still figuring it out. It totally went over my head the first year and this year’s been like me actually getting to grips with it and seeing it for what it is, but only a little bit. It’s hard to see things for what they actually are when it’s your life; you know what I’m saying? It’s easier to understand from another point of view, so I’m just like figuring it out man, trying to figure out what the hell I’m doing.
It feels like the way people have taken to you is kind of similar to how they reacted to Lorde when she first came out. Like everything was about how young she was, but y’know, teenage girls are good at stuff.
Hahaha true. I totally agree with that, aye aye aye. Everybody thinks it’s really impressive, and sure it is, but also like, bro there’s are some talented fucks out here at young ages, and it’s weird when it comes as a surprise to people. I don’t know – basically what I’m trying to say is, I agree with you.
Because you come from a pretty artistic family right?
Yeah, my family’s really creative, always has been pretty much.
And you’ve always written with your brother?
Yeah, we’re four years apart. He started writing when he was 12, and then I started writing when I was 12, four years later, and it was sort of like the beginning of 2015, we started writing together. We were like, we live three feet away from each other, what’s the harm? We just did it, no expectations, no ‘let’s do this to get this’ or ‘let’s get famous’, whatever the fuck. Ours was just that we wanted to, we loved it, so we did. But yeah, we’re still going, recording in my brother’s tiny ass bedroom and I love it. He’s my best friend, so it works out pretty well.
Is there anyone else you’re working with?
To be honest, with music, it’s just my brother. The album that I’m working on doesn’t even have any features; it’s just me and my brother’s work. Just our brains. No other producers, no other writers, no anything, just us. Which I think makes it more raw.
You did stuff with Khalid and Vince Staples in the past, is there anyone else you’re desperate to collaborate with?
Dude, I have so many artists I would love to create with, but I feel like some of my favourite artists right now are actually some of the friends I’ve made, which is crazy because I get the pleasure to become friends or acquaintances with people I really look up to or like. Since I was younger, I’ve just really looked up to Tyler, the Creator, so that’d be a 12-year-old me dream. He like moulded me into what I am. So I’ve always loved Tyler, and Childish Gambino. There are so many, but those two – if I got to work with them it’d be over.
So some of the singles you’ve been putting out, are they part of a wider project or are they just random singles?
You’ll have to see. I’m not even gonna give it away right now. You’ll know eventually, yes and no is the answer, I guess.
You’ve said you write in characters before – do you reckon you have alter egos?
I mean, kinda. Not outspokenly or whatever the word is. I like to write in characters a lot; it’s cool to write from the perspective of somebody or an experience that you would otherwise never be able to understand, or just to put yourself in a character. Cause it’s like creating. ‘Bellyache’ is about being a fuckin’ murderer, and obviously, I don’t kill people but to write from that perspective, to give you a little taste, it’s fun.
You’ve mentioned you dress the way you do because you like being judged…
Do you think that idea slips into other aspects of your artistry?
Kinda. Especially with the visuals. The position I’m at right now is like, ‘how can I scare people more?’ I wanna freak people out to an extent, so I put spiders in my mouth, I put them all over me. I put black liquid in my eyes and cry it out and drink it. The stuff I’m thinking about right now and what I wanna create is like, crazy. It’s a challenge with myself, how can I freak people out more in an artistic way, that also looks dope?
You put the pictures up on your Instagram and said it was actually ink in your eyes. That’s crazy. How did you do that, like how did you even get it to stay there?
We’re working on a behind-the-scenes of that, so you’ll figure it out. It does look really fucking confusing but that shit was hella real, that shit was really in my eyes man.
It’s cool that that video was entirely inspired by a fan drawing.
I know, right? Uh man, they’re just talented kids man, I wanted to incorporate it as much as possible. And also like, that idea just blew up in my brain when I saw that picture. Immediately I was like, I need to do this.
How do you feel about all your Twitter stans?
Hahaha, it’s beautiful, dude. It’s crazy though. I don’t even have Twitter; I deleted that in fucking February, but Instagram, ever since the beginning I’ve tried my best to interact with them as much as possible and try to respond to some DMs and comment and like the stuff that they post, cause it’s like a family. I wanna keep in touch with my family. At shows I go out and talk to them because they’re there to support you, it’s like your friends going to support you at a show, you wanna see them and talk to them and hug them and stuff, so, I love it. They keep me doing what I do.
Do you ever feel any sort of pressure, like is it weird that people your age look up to you?
No dude, I love it! Honestly, I will say like, being 16, people my age coming to my shows is so dope, like I don’t know why but it feels so right. I see older artists, and they have fans that are 14, 15, 16, and it’s kinda weird. It’s an age gap, and they’re not interested in the same kind of things, they don’t think the same things. But I’m literally growing up with these kids, and we’re all this big family, and I love it dude, I think it’s so sick.
So what’s coming for you next year?
Obviously, you’ll see next year, but I’m working on an album right now and making it as good as I can right now, but you’ll just have to wait and see. I’m on tour right now, so I’m kinda focused on that, we’re just finishing shit up.
Any favourite releases from this year?
I really liked ‘Aromanticism’ by Moses Sumney, that album was insane. ‘Whack World’ by Tierra Whack was fucking crazy, Smino is really dope. ‘Down To Earth’ is cool, this artist Crooks is sick, he has this song called ‘Dream’, and ‘Woof’, and they’re both dope. He’s so fire. I dunno dude, I listen to so much music.
Is there anything in particular you’re looking forward to for next year?
Next year is gonna be in. sane. I can just feel it. And I turn 18 next year, so that’ll be insane too, hahaha. I’m so excited, it’s gonna be so fun, and I’m so excited to put out this album. Ugh, I cannot wait. I’m hyped.
Taken from the December 2018 / January 2019 issue of Dork. Order a copy below.
Featuring The 1975, Billie Eilish, Idles, The Japanese House, Circa Waves, Drenge and more.