Sometimes the very thing you thought you wanted the most turns out to be a nightmare. That’s how Billie Eilish describes feeling at times over the past year as her debut album, When We Fall Sleep, Where Do We Go? exploded her into global stardom, even as she just wanted to shrink away from it all. On Gayle King’s Grammy Special on Thrusday night (Jan. 23), Eilish, 18, describes falling into clinical depression and feeling suicidal after her sudden fame made it hard to relate to her old life.
“I was so unhappy last year… I was so unhappy and I was so, like, joyless,” says Eilish, who is nominated for six Grammys at Sunday night’s (Jan. 26) show. “I didn’t ever think I would be happy again, ever,” says Eilish over footage of her joyfully driving around Los Angeles in her all-black muscle car with King in the special that also profiled the Jonas Brothers, Lizzo, Lil Nas X and Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani..
“I never in a million years would have thought I would be anywhere near where I am now,” she tells King over a montage of footage from the quirky upbringing she and musical collaborator brother Finneas enjoyed in their unconventional Los Angeles home. Hitting upon her famously baggy fashion sense and decidedly non-sexual visual presentation, Eilish says she has purposely tried to hide her body, explaining, “Me and my body’s relationship… pffft, has been the most toxic relationship you could even imagine.”
Discussing her depression last year after fame had isolated her from old friends who drifted away, Eilish says, “I don’t want to be too dark, but I genuinely didn’t think I would, like, make it to, like, 17. Worried she would hurt herself, Eilish recalls a moment on tour in Berlin where she looked at a window and thought about how she was going to die, thinking that it would come at her own hand. She also describes grabbing young fans by the shoulders who she suspects might be self-harming — a subject she’s familiar with — and encouraging them to not to do something they can’t take back.
When King asks if the line “I’m gonna end me” from “Bury a Friend” is Billie talking about herself, Eilish says, “I was,” quickly adding that it also happened to be a good rhyme. She obviously didn’t, though, and she credits her mom, Maggie Baird, for helping her to scale back on the touring, getting some therapy and finding joy in her music again.
Watch the Eilish interview (beginning at the 4:30 mark) below.