Billie Eilish is going down a rabbit hole like the rest of us during quarantine. In a wide-ranging interview with British GQ Eilish says being locked down due to COVID-19 is “pretty bad, but with good reason.”
She lamented that we “should be living in a ghost town,” when the magazine caught up with her in mid-March as she was stuck at home and angry that when she went to visit her brother and musical collaborator, Finneas, there were “still people all over the place.”
What’s weirder, though, is after three years of hard grinding and being incredibly overbooked, “now, suddenly, nothing for the foreseeable future,” after her world tour was postponed and all other public appearances fell by the wayside.
The magazine initially caught up with Eilish after her Grammy triumph in January — before the coronavirus shutdown — so the previous night’s wins, and icon Tyler, the Creator’s comments about the ridiculousness of genre categories, were fresh in Eilish’s mind.
“Look, if I wasn’t white I would probably be in ‘rap.’ Why? They just judge from what you look like and what they know. I think that is weird,” she said. “The world wants to put you into a box; I’ve had it my whole career. Just because I am a white teenage female I am pop. Where am I pop? What part of my music sounds like pop?”
If she’s being honest, the five Grammy wins brought her validation, for her and brother/producer Finneas’ vision and their decision to stick to the style they believe in.
Eilish, 18, also opened up about her “huge” body issues, some of which she thinks were a result of how her exes have treated her. “I have never felt desired. My past boyfriends never made me feel desired. None of them,” said Eilish, who has long made a point of wearing baggy, billowy clothes that obscure her figure. “And it’s a big thing in my life that I have never been physically desired by somebody.”
That’s why, she said, she dresses the way she does. “I dress as I don’t like to think of you guys — I mean anyone, everyone, judging it, or the size of it,” she said. “But that doesn’t mean that I won’t wake up one day and decide to wear a tank top, which I have done before.” She’s not above getting excited when she switches it up and, suddenly, “my boobs are trending on Twitter. Which is fine — that s–t looks good.”
Eilish released a provocative video earlier this year about body image that was scrolled during the shows she played before the pandemic shut things down and she says that it’s still something she thinks about, but it’s complicated.
“Sometimes I dress like a boy. Sometimes I dress like a swaggy girl,” she said. “And sometimes I feel trapped by this persona that I have created, because sometimes I think people view me not as a woman. That tour video was about all that. It is me saying: ‘look, there is a body underneath these clothes and you don’t get to see it. Isn’t that a shame?'”
Billie Eilish on the July/August cover of British GQ
Asked if she sees herself finding a mate, Eilish wasn’t sure if there’s room for someone else. Maybe eventually, she says, but for now she can’t see it. “All I ever wanted was a boyfriend,” she said. “Any time when it was rainy or cloudy, all I would wish is I was with some boy. That was my thing. Whenever we were somewhere nice, a beach or a balcony with a sunset, I would never be able to enjoy the experience as I just used to wish I was with some boy. And I couldn’t be further away from that. I’ve had my heart broken, sure. People have done some terrible s–t to me. The crazy s–t I have gone through. I have never felt powerful in a relationship.”
The bottom line, she said, is she’s just “not attracted to people anymore.”
Asked about the potentially negative impacts of social media, Eilish called it “unbelievable,” revealing that “I almost killed myself because of Twitter a couple of years ago… Like, for real.” The singer, who has been open in past interviews about her struggles with mental health, described trying to disengage from social media, but knowing deep down that it’s the place where her most die-hard fans live.
“Even if I try to avoid it, which I do now, I end up seeing it, because those fans, who are actually defending me, repost and respond to the original criticism in their feed. I can’t win. I tried turning comments off on Instagram, but, you know, I feel equally as bad doing that,” she said. “I can’t shut myself off completely. Instagram puts comments by those you follow, my friends, at the top of your post, but if you go one comment too far, my whole world is destroyed. I try so hard not to read the hate…”
As she has in previous profiles, Eilish described her family’s quirky, incredibly close home life, a moment when she considered suicide in a German hotel room during a tour several years ago and how an injury in dance class at 13 was incredibly traumatic, but also a gift, because it pushed her toward music. She also, once again, grappled with the idea of being one of the most famous teenagers on the planet.
“The thing I realized recently is this: when you get to a certain level of fame or notoriety, it doesn’t matter what you say or do, you are a certain level of known,” she said. “You will be super hated. And super loved. There are a million people who don’t like Beyoncé – and I don’t know how the hell you can’t love Beyoncé. Same with Rihanna. Same with Trump – people actually like that fool! How can you like this man? But everyone is hated and everyone is loved.”
When it comes down to it, though, paradoxically, the bigger Eilish has gotten, the safer she feels. She said success has made it earlier to figure out what she actually wants to do. That has come at a steep price, though, as she again describes the friends she’s lost along the way due to “touring, jealousy, misunderstanding… One day I had, like, 50 friends, and the next I had two.”
Billie Eilish on the July/August cover of British GQ