For one night only, Billie will join us in Bonn for her first show in Europe in more than two years – prior to the official start of her HAPPIER THAN EVER tour. Billie and Finneas put together an exclusive set list spanning both her debut album and her most recent sophomore album, “Happier Than Ever”.
We will be live-streaming the acoustic on Tik Tok – 1st of June. Make sure to follow us on @electronicbeats. Good news: check our Instagram to take part in the tickets raffle for this exclusive event – find and follow us here: @electronicbeats.
Hello Billie – welcome to Telekom Electronic Beats! I’m really happy to be here with you today.
Me too. Thanks for having me.
Great. So a lot has happened over these past couple of years: You released your second studio album Happier Than Ever, your sold out Arena tour has begun and you won an Oscar. How are you feeling?
I am feeling good. Thank you for asking! I mean even before Covid and then involving Covid. It’s just been like such a roller coaster and I feel like it’s been … It’s been really good lately. We’ve been in a good zone in the last couple of months. So I’m in a good place.
So during 2020/2021, did you use that time for exploring your creativity a bit more in a more focused way? Like dive deeper into your thoughts and your creativity or was there not much difference?
I feel like I did more than I’ve ever done in that year which is weird because I wasn’t doing anything, I wasn’t even leaving the house because it was quarantine.All I did in 2020 is just reflect on myself and my life. When Covid happened it was horrible of course. But also it made it that you kind of had to just sit still and think about your life.And I could think about my past and think about things that happened and kind of actually see them realistically for the first time ever. And think about my life in a different way and be more grateful for things and then it led to so much creativity.
We need to have time to miss things to go back to them. It’s like relationships: you can’t miss each other if you’re together all the time.
We made all of my album „Happier Than Ever“ in that time and that was amazing. There’s never ever been something like that and I don’t know if there ever will be again where you have that time to be creative with that freedom. You know what I mean? Unless you go like: hey guys, I’m not leaving my house for a year and a half which is maybe kind of I think I did, yeah.
So I guess we kind of needed it, this downtime. How did you stay connected with your fans but also with your friends?
I hold so dearly to me my relationship with the fans and I really when I think about what I just said … I think in person and the moments that I get with them and when I can talk to them and see them and hold them and hug them and be close to them. And that’s what means a lot to me. To see their faces in real life. It was really hard and I wanted to see them so badly. As soon as I stepped back on the stage, I felt myself again. It was kind of insane, I was like: wow, It’s been so long I’m not going to remember how to do it, I’m not going to feel like myself. And as soon as I got on stage I was like: oh yeah, this is what makes me feel the happiest and it’s been so so good. So I’ve been really trying to take in every moment and being like: oh my God, I get to do this when I didn’t get to for so long and I’m so grateful for that.
So you really love performing. You once said in an interview that you know you feel so rejuvenated when you’re on the stage and when you walk up the stairs and you see the crowd below you and they’re giving you so much energy. This gives you so much power. So how was your first live show after this long break?
Oh well, you know I did a couple of festivals but the festivals are its own thing and then I didn’t do a headlining show until I played New Orleans in I think January/February, a few months ago now. And that was my first real headlining show back in two years and it was unbelievable. We were just all on such a high. And I also loved my stage design, and that always feels really good. I was so excited for it and I couldn’t believe that it was happening. I mean, because so many things were planned and then canceled and planned and then canceled for so long that I never thought it would actually happen. And then it happened and we went on a full tour all over the US and that leg is already over and it’s so insane how fast it went and how fun it was.
So when you were told that you were going to be performing again like in front of a crowd, was it kind of comparable to performing in front of a big crowd for the first time when you first started?
That’s a good question!I was worried that I would suddenly have stage fright or be nervous or whatever. But it’s funny. I was of course nervous, excited in the adrenaline zone. But as soon as I got on the stage I was like: oh, this is my home.
At my shows when I’m on stage and I’m in front of my crowd, it has never felt like a scary stage fright performance where you’re on stage and you don’t know the crowd and there’s so many people looking at you and the lights are all on you. It doesn’t feel like that. The crowds that I have and the fans, they feel like I’ve known them forever. Like I’m just hanging out with my friends and jumping around and dancing and singing all in a room together.
It doesn’t feel like when you’re a kid and you do a talent show and you’re think: oh my god, it’s just me on the stage everybody is watching me. It feels like you’re in a room with one person. It feels like you’re in a room with every person in the world.
Now that you’ve played some shows, can you say that you really miss touring? Is touring still incredibly fulfilling for you?
Oh yeah, I love it so much, I really, really love it and it’s really nice to be able to say that now, because I really didn’t love it for a couple years. The first few years of my career I was very young and very depressed and didn’t even know if I wanted anything that I had.
And so I was kind of in this zone of: I don’t want to be here. Stupid little kid. I’ve made changes – and then we got a less brutal touring schedule and we got more people, and we didn’t have to do it all ourselves anymore. And it became really really enjoyable. I also made a lot of rules for myself, like: I don’t ever want to be gone longer than four weeks unless it’s talked about and we decide on it. I always want to come home.
My ideal would be to be gone for three weeks and then home for at least a week.I really don’t want to be gone for too long because what happens is this: The thing that you find so much joy in and that you have so much fun in, becomes this chore and you don’t want that. No matter what you do and who you are and what you like and what you don’t: if you do something too much, too often, for too long of a period of time, you get tired of it and you need breaks. It’s just how we are.
We need to have time to miss things to go back. It’s like that whole thing people say about relationships: you can’t miss each other if you’re together all the time. You gotta have space and go do things without each other and then be like:I want to see you. Istead of just suffocating each other. So that’s kind of what a tour is like. You don’t want to suffocate yourself because you love it so much.
Yeah I can relate to that and it says a lot. When you see what works and what doesn’t but also when you know yourself enough, where you can create boundaries.
Totally. Totally, so important.
It’s easy to say now that you’re happy to be able to socialize again.
Yes, for sure. Oh yes.
Do you think that now that you’re on tour a bit more and you’re seeing more of your fans, do you think that people are appreciating the irl moments more now?
It’s tough because something that I’ve noticed – just being human and looking at how humans are – is: no matter what you do it’s really hard to live in a moment and so we always are trying really hard to live in the moment.
It’s like when you have a stuffy nose. And all you can think about is: oh my god I wish I had a not stuffy nose. But when you don’t have a stuffy nose, you don’t even think about it. You decided it doesn’t even cross your mind. And when you have one, you’re like: I took for granted all those moments when I didn’t have a stuffy nose. And whenever I don’t have a stuffy nose I’m gonna be so grateful and I’m gonna think about it all the time and then of course your nose is unplugged and then you don’t ever think about it again. It’s kind of how we are.
It’s very easy and it’s really hard and vulnerable to be aware and grateful for things that you have, that you feel like you would never be able to lose. But I think we all just should remember that clearly. You can lose anything at any time and we should be grateful for everything all the time.
So I would say that people are more excited to be with each other. But again you get used to stuff really fast. I mean, I remember in Covid somebody being as soon as there’s a mask mandate like: I don’t know how, I’m gonna be so confused, it’s gonna be so hard to feel normal and no mask. I was like: that’s not true, human beings are really good at adapting. So it’s good to be consciencent, try making sure that you are aware of your surroundings and not taking them for granted though. I think that’s an important thing.
So do you notice this in others? Do you find people more grateful these days or even more conscious? Do you notice a difference in the crowd when you’re playing, for example?
I don’t know if I can say that.I think that the people that are really grateful, are because a lot of these people bought tickets before Covid, not just for me. But for things. People were planning on doing stuff and had all these plans for their life. Everybody had these. plans and things they were looking forward to and they worked really hard to. hat’s been really nice is the amount of people that I have seen and they are like: I’ve been waiting three years for this, I worked so hard for this, I went out of my way to do this and then it got canceled and then I stuck with it.
And that’s been really nice to see these people that seem so grateful to be there because they have been waiting for so long and hoped that it’ll happen. So that’s I think the main thing that I’ve noticed. I see signs held up in the crowd:: we’ve been waiting two years for this. Yeah, it’s really nice to see. I’m so glad that they get to come and they didn’t have to just throw away the idea of it.
You can’t suffocate yourself by touring all the time just because you love it so much.
Yeah, you have some very dedicated and committed fans. What is your impression about people filming with their mobile phones during concerts? Do you find that they’re filming less or more? Do you find that people are engaging or enjoying the present moment of the shows?
When I’m on stage I don’t really think about the phones because I just think about the people and I just ignore the phones. But there are moments when I’m on stage and I think to myself: let me only look at the phones. And I see how many there are and I’ll look out and it’ll freak me the fuck out because it’s literally thousands of phones just hovering above people. And I have this haunting idea of what if all the people disappeared and it was just the phones and they stayed exactly where they were. How creepy that would look and that kind of haunts me. And I do make it a moment in the show to be like: let’s put down our phones for a second and actually look at each other.
I’m totally fine with people filming and taking videos because I love taking videos of stuff that I want to remember and have a video of. But for me when I go to a show or go to something where I want to have a moment, I don’t look at my phone the entire time. And then there’s one song or one moment or one thing that I’m like: ooh I want to have a video of that.For me I have specific things. Some people want to film the entire show, some people want to show everyone that they are there. I think it’s great, I think people should be allowed to do all of that.
For the most part people are seriously present but something that happens a lot is: I’ll be on stage and I interact with the front row. And I like to have moments like looking at them and them looking at me and singing to them. And sometimes I’ll go up to someone to have that moment and they’ll be filming me and because I’m coming close to them they’ll be like: ahhh but and they’ll shove the phone in front of their own face so that they can’t even see me with their eyes.
Oh my God she’s coming over, I could get the best video of her – getting all close to me and everyone would like it which I totally get. But then they miss the actual moment because they want to get it on film which is really like a conflicting thing. Because I totally understand wanting to get the best video. But then you miss the experience and you miss the moment and that really sucks.
And I have been in a place where I’ve missed the moment because I was taking a video and I was really excited about the video and then later in life I was like: I wish that I had put my phone down and looked at that person. Where’s the experience going?
Yeah, it’s about you and me.
I know and I really love to go up and have a moment and interact and I love to point the mic to them and they shout the words or we both sing it to each other or they point to a tattoo of theirs and I smile or whatever.
Yeah, making that connection. I can definitely relate to that. Do you think that the impact of Strong Gen Zs can really make a change. Like people being more environmentally conscious for example. You had a huge impact on Oscar de La Renta because you convinced him to stop selling fur. What do you think about Gen Z’s making this positive change?
I spend so much time during my days starting to wallow in worrying about the state of the world. And I do as much as I feel like I can do.There’s so many people and young people and people that are fighting for what I believe in as well. And it’s funny because when you’re trying to convey something that you believe in about the world you feel very alone in that But there’s millions of people that are with you. It warms my heart. We should do as much as we possibly can. It’s all about doing our part.
I know that you do a lot, you even directed some of your own music videos. What’s it like to work on your own videos and what’s your process?
It’s hard. It’s a lot harder than I expected that it would be, but it’s been so satisfying and so worth it. I still occasionally will use different directors just because I can’t do it all. Or it’s an idea that I need somebody that’s more experienced than me or better at it than me.
Some people are like: I just want to do everything because I’m the best. But I don’t at all think I’m the best. The only reason I direct my own stuff is when I have a really solid idea and I feel that I can do it myself and I can get it across.Growing up, I always wanted to be a director. I used to make little movies when I was a kid and I was obsessed with it. I thought it was the coolest thing in the world and visuals have always been the most important thing creatively for me. I can’t have one thing without having visuals being the other part of it.
I guess at the beginning of my career I didn’t really know that I could do it myself. So I would find myself really frustrated because I would know exactly what I would want and then I would have these people trying to change it all because they’re hired for this and they’re gonna do it their way.When you’re 14 and you have no experience people arenot going to trust you. But my team trusted me.
That’s when I started directing and it’s been so amazing – I would love to direct other people’s videos and and direct something bigger eventually. But it’s a lot of work and I need help.I’m not out there doing every single thing alone, I got a big crew and they’re very helpful and I’m still learning and I don’t know any of the technical terms. I really just know exactly what the eye needs and all the technical stuff I get help from the team.
You said you wanted to write and direct other people’s music videos. Would you have anyone in mind that you would love to direct a video for?
I don’t know yet.I think anytime I have an idea of something I would like to do, I kind of like to keep it to myself just because if it doesn’t happen then it’s embarrassing.
Like a quiet manifestation.
Exactly! But also I am up for whatever happens, I kind of am just like: we’ll see how it all goes.
Do you have a favorite director who inspires you?
I don’t actually know anybody by name. But I have a giant list of the movies that changed my life. All because of the cinematography. Or the music videos that changed my idea of what music videos could be. I then show them to everyone and I’m like: who did this? I’ve been able to meet with and work with all these people that created things that for me were part of making me who I am when I was younger. And that’s really amazing, getting to work with directors that I looked up to as a kid and changed the way I thought about visuals. I really love cinematography and photography.
When I was a kid I thought I would be a photographer. That’s what I thought I would be, what I would do when I was older. And so I was always really interested in cameras and stole everybody’s cameras to just go and take pictures somewhere. I made my friends pose and I would set up my bed sheets and hang them up in the backyard so that they looked like a white backdrop. And I would set up the camera and put it on a timer and do all these little stupid photo.That’s so much fun.
So, on June first you and your brother FINNEAS are performing at the Telekom Forum in Bonn. It’s a rather intimate setting and a very special acoustic show. You’re saying you really love visuals. How important is stage design to you for your shows and how much influence do you have on it?
Stage design is super important. It really really changes the way that you move on stage. And it changes the way that the audience feels and feels comfortable and feels kind of distant. I think stage design can really change the kind of comfort level in the room. I have all these criteria for what it needs to be. I want it to be scary and intimidating but very inviting and comfortable and not chaotic, but big but also simple. All these things. Touring for as long as I have been, all you do every single tour is learn more about what you need the next time and what you want to do the next time.
I had this idea to make my stage look like a giant spider or something. I don’t know, I think that was like a mix of my ideas with a bunch of these really talented creatives’ ideas. I really was into spiders and I wanted something to do with spiders and we made this big spider that I could kind of go on and climb on. And it lit up and it was really cool.
So it’s been a collaborative thing for me since the beginning and I’ve always been involved and had a big say. And I work with a really good team called Moment Factory now and they are really really good. They come up with such cool stuff. So yeah, it’s really important.
Amazing. I’m excited to see what else you do in the future. So I really appreciate our conversation today. It’s been a pleasure, I’ve loved it. I wish you all the best and thank you!
Thank you! Thank you so much. It was great talking to you.