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Everything you need to know about Billie Eilish, the teenage pop-star that everyone seems to be talking about

Prepare to feel bad about your life achievements.

its this girl

A post shared by billie eilish (@wherearetheavocados) on

IF THERE’S ONE thing we all hate, it’s talented young people who have achieved more in their teenage years than most of us will ever achieve in our entire lifetimes. In fairness, hate is a strong word, but these kids certainly make us want to reassess our lives and most of the decisions we have made. 

An example of one of these incredibly talented young teens who will make you feel as though your achievements are desperately inadequate is moody up-and-coming pop-star, Billie Eilish. Billie’s mam, Maggie Baird, was recording a family video one day when Billie Eilish was two years old, singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star in the bathroom, when she noticed that her infant daughter had perfect pitch. Since then, Billie has been refining her craft.

She began writing music at the age of eleven, which was just five years ago, btw. Yep. She’s sixteen. She was born in 2001. There’s a pretty good chance that she’s younger than your car, or maybe even the last Brita filter that you bought. 

If you’ve heard her name mentioned or read about her at any stage over the last few months, you might have assumed she was Irish, because y’know ‘Eilish’ (which she surprisingly pronounces like ‘eyelash’ with a ‘lish’). Billie’s full name is actually Billie Eilish Pirate Baird O’Connell, which is even more Irish (minus the fact that ‘Pirate’ is her middle name), but her parents were both brought up in America. Her parents are of Scottish and Irish heritage and both work as performers – acting, singing, writing and playing music. 

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u see that im seein u seein me

A post shared by billie eilish (@wherearetheavocados) on

For the last year of her life, while she hasn’t reached Justin Bieber’s level of celebrity in the public eye, she has certainly received a lot of attention on social media. At present, she has a following of 8.4 million on Instagram, which might be fine for someone like Justin Bieber, but is probably pretty weird for an otherwise normal 16-year-old girl. 

Last year, she was interviewed by Vanity Fair about where she saw herself in the future, what celebrities she wanted to meet, who the most famous person in her phonebook was and how often she gets recognised in public. A year later, they asked her all of the same questions again to see how far she had come in 365 days. You’ve really got to hand it to Vanity Fair, because the end result is pretty incredible. 

It opens up with 15-year-old Billie and 16-year-old Billie on a split screen. Side by side, they look through their phones to tell Vanity Fair how many Instagram followers they have. Last year, Billie had 257,000 followers. In October, when this interview was filmed, Billie had 6.3 million followers. A month later, as stated earlier, Billie now has 8.4 million followers and that figure’s only set to rise from here on out. 

The biggest crowd that 15-year-old Billie had performed to was 500 people, while 16-year-old Billie recounted how she performed for 40,000 in Atlanta. This pattern continues throughout the video and there are some moments that are undeniably heartwarming and poignant, regardless of whether or not you’re a fan of her.

Last year, she got so excited at the prospect of meeting Tyler, The Creator and said she would “explode” if she was ever given that opportunity. This year, she just smiled modestly before saying, “I met him. I met him, and it was great.”  

Source: Vanity Fair/YouTube

Billie’s not your typical teen star, unlike any other teen pop-star (ever, basically), the 16-year-old has been referred to as ‘the Beatrix Kiddo of pop‘, a reference to Uma Thurman’s Kill Bill heroine.

Billie’s Instagram presence is as much a part of her brand as her music is (the fact that we haven’t even mentioned her music yet is testament to that), and she has spoken a lot about how people today feel obliged to share every part of their lives on social media. That’s not something she’s particularly happy about, but for a teenager who’s logging in every day to an endless stream of compliments, validation and encouragement, she seems to have a pretty solid grasp on where the line should be drawn. 

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tell invisalign to go fuck itself i hate that shit

A post shared by billie eilish (@wherearetheavocados) on

We all like to think that we grew up with the internet, but if you’re a certain age there are landmarks you will recall in your life, like the first time you used dial-up internet, the first time your family bought a computer, or the first time you used wireless internet and had your mind blown. Because of Billie’s age, she has never experienced what life was like without the internet.

As kids today often do, she grew up watching popular Youtube channels for entertainment, pretty much the same way that we watched the likes of Blue Peter on weekdays school. One of these channels was the FBE channel, which is famous for their reaction videos, like ‘Kids React’, ‘Teens React’, ‘College Kids React’, ‘Elders React’, etc.

Billie was invited on the show to react to teens reacting to her music, and her excitement was nearly palpable. 

Source: FBE/YouTube

If you go on Youtube, you’ll probably find more videos of Billie getting involved with DIY Youtube series than you’ll find videos of her music, and that’s not because she doesn’t have many songs out. Unlike the kid celebrities of decades before, Billie Eilish seems to have much more time to engage with DIY Youtube channels and the rest of the world, which is probably because she’s been doing so on social media for a very significant proportion of her life so far. 

And as for her music…

Billie writes and records all of her music with her brother Finneas O’Connell. Her very first single was a song he wrote for his band, but didn’t like, which she took and recorded herself in the hopes of working on some choreography for it. In the music video below, she’s just thirteen years old, and while she looks quite young, her voice is definitely not the voice that you’d expect a child of that age to have. 

Source: Billie Eilish/YouTube

She has collaborated with artists like Khalid (as you’ll see below) and has been compared to Lorde, Dua Lipa and internet hit Clairo (who seems to always end up in your Spotify Discover Weekly, whether you like it or not, but that’s a discussion for another day).  

Source: BillieEilishVEVO/YouTube

Billie’s connection with Instagram and her fans has a real impact on her music, too. One of her fans (who she managed to track down on Instagram) drew this picture for her and handed it to her after a show. Any other artist might have been creeped out by the fact that their eyes had been blacked out and that they were crying black tears, but Billie was really into it. 

i owe everything to this drawing. a girl gave me this at a show and i don’t exactly remember where or when. i just remember being mesmerized by it. immediately i thought of everything you see in that video. talked to my whole team and explained exactly what i wanted. (THEYRE AMAZING AND DO THE DOPEST SHIT TO HELP TURN MY IDEAS INTO REAL SHIT) i wrote down and drew everything, took a chair and small table to my backyard and had my mom pretend to be me so i could film exactly how i wanted the video to look. every frame, every angle, when and where i wanted it to zoom in and out, what i wanted to wear, exactly how i wanted to pick up and put down the glass. and when i wanted the black to leak from my eyes. (youll see that video one day) sent it to my people who sent it to carlos the director. he made that shit come to life. the shoot day was 12 hours long and we did maybe six full take with the black ink in my eyes..THAT SHIT WAS REALLY IN MY EYES OK THAT WAS VERY VERY REAL. DONT PLAY ME MAN THAT SHIT WAS REAL AND IT STUNG. i hate these long ass captions but i needed to give credit and love to everyone who worked long and hard on this beautiful video. to my brother who wrote this song. and to the kid who drew this. mainly i need to just say... all of your art, makes art. never stop. thank you.

A post shared by billie eilish (@wherearetheavocados) on

In fact, she was so into it that she brought the picture to a director and had her next music video filmed with this drawing as its main inspiration. It’s been on Youtube for less than a month now, and already it has 49 million views. If you had not heard anything about Billie Eilish until today, chances are, you’ll be hearing a lot more in the next few months. 

Source: BillieEilishVEVO/YouTube

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About the author:

Kelly Earley

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