Billie Eilish’s 22-Year-Old Brother Finneas O’Connell Is Her Producer, Songwriting Partner, And Best Friend
While many of her fans may think she’s a single entity, Billie Eilish is a two-person project.
Almost every song the 17-year-old has ever released was co-written and produced by her 22-year-old brother, Finneas O’Connell. If you’ve ever attended an Eilish concert you may remember her introducing him as “my big brother and my best friend.”
“She’s incredibly generous about it,” O’Connell recently told Variety. “It’s crazy and cool to me that people are so aware of the creative circumstance.”
O’Connell doesn’t mind at all that his younger sister gets all the spotlight. He actually prefers it.
“I’m not very interested in fame or notoriety at all — in fact, I’d be pretty bummed out if I woke up one day and I was, like, super, super famous,” he said. “But the flipside of that is that I’m really passionate about my music, I’m really proud of it and I want it to be heard by as many people as possible, and I’m willing to embrace whatever comes with that.”
How Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell became songwriters
It all started with a songwriting class taught by their mother, Maggie Baird, an actor and amateur songwriter.
“I always say it was actually the Beatles who taught them to write songs,” Baird told Variety. “Because the class was for kids, I had to simplify it: ‘Here’s “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” let’s give these pieces of the song a name.’ The class was just an hour a week for 10 weeks or so — but Finneas was like [mimes a ‘Eureka!’ moment], and in a few months he formed a band. All I had to teach him was the basics, and he immediately got it — and the same with Billie.”
Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell work alone (together)
Most successful artists today are surrounded by a team of people. Eilish and O’Connell, however, write almost all of their song themselves with O’Connell producing. It took some convincing for the duo’s label and management to let them at the creative process themselves.
“Who would have believed that Billie’s [then-] 18-year-old brother would be her only cowriter and producer, and that he’s as good or better than anyone else?,” Baird says. “They were not pushed to do it by the label or their managers, but they did say ‘Let’s just try it and see how it works.’”
Eilish, from the beginning, thought the idea “was so stupid.”
“My managers and label are so incredible and I’ve been so lucky with my team that I think I’m pretty spoiled,” she said. “And it wasn’t like they were forcing us into it. But that was so stupid. It was horrible for a lot of reasons. I was a little tiny teenager who hadn’t written with anyone besides my brother. And there I was, 14, in a room with 40-something-year-old dudes who were trying to write a song with me and Finneas, who was 18. I didn’t want to be doing that! Jeez! Stuck in a room with a bunch of adults, trying to write a song? Gross!“
At the end of the day, the singer’s glad she tried working with more than just her brother.
“I’m glad that we tried it so we knew that we didn’t want to do it. And also, all the songs we wrote with [others] were not as good as the songs me and Finneas wrote alone,” she said.