Billie Eilish is perhaps the biggest pop success story of 2019, and in her recent interview with Rolling Stone, the teenage singer opened up about her recent catapult to fame.
The 17-year-old rose to stardom after releasing her debut album earlier this year, titled “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” The week it was released, the singer had 14 songs chart on the Billboard Hot 100, making Eilish the only female artist in history to achieve the feat.
In recent weeks, her hit single “Bad Guy” has become a viral sensation, with the song’s official music video becoming popular on social media. The single climbed to No. 2 on the Hot 100, but couldn’t dethrone Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus’ record-breaking “Old Town Road.”
In a new Rolling Stone article, Eilish opened up about her mental health struggles, dealing with fame, and the connection she’s forged with her teenage audience. Here are some things we learned throughout the magazine’s recent interview.
DANCING WAS HER FIRST PASSION
In the interview, Eilish discusses her past as a dancer, revealing she had danced ballet, tap, jazz, and more styles in her early teens. She also recounted the time where she joined a competitive dance company at 13, which she said made her feel “the most insecure.”
“I wasn’t as confident. I couldn’t speak and just be normal,” she told the magazine. “When I think about it or see pictures of me then, I was so not OK with who I was.”
Eilish also remembers having to wear “really tiny clothes” for her recitals, which, to this day, she remains uncomfortable about. “I was always worried about my appearance. That was the peak of my body dysmorphia. I couldn’t look in the mirror at all,” she said.
Her dancing days soon came to a crashing halt, when she injured herself by rupturing a growth plate in her hip. This forced Eilish to quit dancing altogether, which took a toll on her mental health. Fortunately, she claims to be in a much better place since then.
“I haven’t been depressed in a minute, which is great,” she confessed. “Seventeen has probably been the best year of my life. I’ve liked 17.”
SHE LOVES HORSES
Billie’s parents sat down with Rolling Stone for part of the interview and discussed their daughter’s love for horses.
“We’re trying to find ways to help Billie relax,” her mother, Maggie Baird, told the magazine. “The one thing she’s always really loved is horses.”
From a younger age, Eilish frequently visited a local horse ranch near her home in California, where visitors pay top dollar to ride, and still remembers many of the horses by name. One horse named Jackie O, however, was special.
“I was literally in love with this horse,” said Eilish. However, she was not able to ride her favored horse after another girl “with more money” was able to afford rides. Even so, the singer continues to remain close to the beloved animal.
“But even after I stopped riding, I came here just to be with her,” she said.
HER DARKER IMAGE ISN’T ENTIRELY TRUE
The singer usually discusses edgier topics in her songs, including in “Bad Guy,” where she actually deems herself to be the “might-seduce-your-dad type,” but Eilish’s daring image is mostly an artistic choice.
Her brother and musical partner, Finneas, tells the magazine that her unique image is “by design,” and that she doesn’t drink and has “never tried drugs.” Her music, in actuality, is generally fairly clean, and is described to be “safe to listen to with Mom and Dad in the car.”
SHE CAN ACTUALLY “SEE” MUSIC
As a child, Eilish was diagnosed with synesthesia, a condition in which the senses can blend together or overlap. Because of this, people who experience this condition can often “see” music in different colors and shapes, and Eilish is no different.
“Every person I know has their own color and shape and number in my head, but it’s normal to me,” the singer confessed. Speaking of “Bad Guy,” she describes the song as being “yellow, but also red, and the number seven. It’s not hot, but warm, like an oven. And it smells like cookies.”
According to Psychology Today, synesthesia is defined as “a neurological condition in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway (for example, hearing) leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway (such as vision). Simply put, when one sense is activated, another unrelated sense is activated at the same time.”
HER PARENTS ARE ALWAYS INVOLVED
Despite their daughter’s ever-increasing fame, Eilish’s parents, Maggie Baird and Patrick O’Connell, are always a presence within her career. Both have a background as actors, with Baird having small roles in “Friends” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm” before starting her family, and O’Connell listing appearances on “The West Wing” and “NYPD Blue” in his résumé.
On tour, O’Connell serves as a fixer-upper around whatever stage Eilish performs on that night, while Baird uses her parenting skills to manage her daughter’s mental state while constantly on the road.
“I just understand how things will fit into her mood better, and not f–k up her day,” said Baird of her daughter.
O’Connell also described the intense pressure fame has put on his daughter, saying both he and Baird try their best to “put a buffer” between Eilish and dangerous outside forces in the music industry.
“Her teenage years were wrested from her,” he admits. “She was being shuttled all over the country at 14. That’s really young. So although this has all been pretty wonderful and extraordinary, we try to put a buffer between Billie and the ravenous industry. Because it’s too much.”