The First Time: Billie Eilish

Billie Eilish describes collaborating with her brother Finneas, becoming a fan of Tyler, the Creator and Childish Gambino, and receiving the news that her breakout single “Ocean Eyes” had garnered attention in the latest installment of “The First Time.”

The first song Eilish and Finneas wrote together was 2017’s “Bellyache,” which was born out of their friend’s garage. They were mindlessly playing instruments, making what Eilish describes as “the most horrible sounding music from all of us,” when Finneas spontaneously played a patch of music. They added words to the song, completing it on Eilish’s bed. The siblings have been writing together ever since, but Eilish realized Finneas was the perfect writing partner when the duo wrote “Hostage,” the final track of Eilish’s 2017 EP Don’t Smile at Me. “There was kind of a feeling there that we were just like, ‘This is what we’re going to do,’ ’cause this works,” Eilish explains. “Obviously, it still works.”

Eilish first heard Tyler, the Creator, when she was working as a horse camp counselor one summer. Her friend mentioned the rapper while they were giving lessons. “We were just goofing off, not paying attention, even though we were the ones…in charge,” she laughs. Although a photo of Tyler was Eilish’s profile picture, she didn’t have a clue who he was at the time. “I just thought it was a cool picture,” she says. “And then we listened to ‘Tamale’ with a bunch of five-year-olds riding horses all around us. It was great.” The star also became a fan of Childish Gambino when her iPod played “Heartbeat” while on shuffle. “Immediately, I just stopped what I was doing,” she says, reaching for the device to see who it was. “I felt like I was introduced to a new world…where have I been? This has been out there, and I’ve just been sitting here.”

Eilish fondly remembers the moment her 2016 breakout hit “Ocean Eyes” began to take off. She was at Starbucks on a break between dance classes when Finneas called to tell her the video had a thousand views. “A thousand! Which is now like, an ant,” she cracks. “It’s funny how different it is relative to things now, but then, he called me to tell me because it was such a big deal. The excitement caused Eilish to forget about her next dance class altogether. “I remember hanging up the phone, grabbing my bag and grabbing my stupid little hibiscus whatever-the-fuck. I picked it up and just ran with the biggest smile on my face because I was so excited.”

Elsewhere in the interview, Eilish gushes over her love for The Office — “I just started watching it the 13th time all around” — and humorously describes the first time she (technically) drove her car alone. It was the day before she got her license, and Eilish relocated her car from the front of the house to the back so she could wash it without getting noticed. “And then school got out, and then a million people walked by and all saw me and started taking pictures of me, so I had to go back inside,” she says. Eilish admits that the drive, however quick, was illegal. “I just drove it around the block,” she says. “So don’t worry about it!”

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