Q&A: Billie Eilish talks SXSW, songwriting

Hailey Howe

At just 16 years old, Los Angeles-based singer Billie Eilish will take the stage at South by Southwest. The songstress began singing as a young child and went viral after she released her debut single, “Ocean Eyes” on Soundcloud. The Daily Texan spoke with her about her debut EP, don’t smile at me, and her songwriting process.

DT: What was your source of inspiration musically for don’t smile at me?

Billie Eilish: There are so many inspirations I couldn’t really name one. We started working on don’t smile at me about a little less than a year ago now and honestly it was a lot of different stuff combined. You should be inspired by so many things that you come out with something completely different. Inspired does not mean copying other people, it’s taking all the things you’ve learned and saw that were interesting and turning it into something that’s unique to you.

DT: What is your favorite song on your new album and why?

Billie Eilish: It is “COPYCAT.” It’s my favorite song to listen to. I feel like if it wasn’t even my song I’d still love it… I think “COPYCAT,” “&burn,” and “my boy” are definitely the most ‘me’.

Songs don’t have to prove some shit that nobody knew already because everybody copies everybody. I’ve copied people before, you know like you have to do something that somebody else has done in the world or else you can’t even be alive.

DT: What is your songwriting process like?

Billie Eilish: I write with my brother. He produces my stuff, we perform together, we travel together. He’s like my best friend so it works. We started writing together because when I was 12 or 13. I wrote music and he wrote music and we live in the same house and we’re 3 feet away and we like each other. We were like why the fuck are we not doing this together. So that’s when we started doing it together.

DT: Why did you name your debut EP don’t smile at me?

Billie Eilish: I think titles are so sick when they’re like a sentence, or sound like you would say it to someone. Sometimes how I find new music, I’ll look up that name and I’ll listen to a song with that title and normally I like it. I click on songs because of the title, because of the artwork. That’s what’s interesting to me, so I sort of try to do that. “idontwannabeyouanymore” is like that. If I saw that title I’d click on that because it’s interesting to me. I’m not trying to shame anyone, there’s no shame towards anyone.

Daily Texan: How do you feel about performing at SXSW and what are you most excited about?

Billie Eilish: I’ve only been to SXSW once and it was last year, and last year I wasn’t doing any announced headlining shows. I don’t know what to expect. I’m prepared for it to be a lot of work. I think it’ll be tight like I really liked it last time I had a lot of fun.