Photo courtesy of Roger Ho/ACL Music Festival.
Written by: Stephen Thompson
Republished courtesy of NPR Music.
“The thing that’s worked,” Billie Eilish says, “is to just make what I wanted to make and expect nothing.”
Of course, making what she’s wanted to make has delivered far more than that: When Eilish took the stage at the ACL Music Festival in Austin on Oct. 5, she towered over a crowd that seemed impossibly vast. Untold tens of thousands of fans stretched beyond any given sightline as the 17-year-old whipped up a crowd already reeling from the 95-degree heat.
A few hours earlier, Eilish sat at a much smaller spot — the Bonus Tracks stage, which ACL added this year as a low-key place to record live interviews for podcasts such as this one — for a conversation about her life and career. The crowd, though scaled down and situated in a shady oasis next to a wine bar, was no less fervent. Some had watched her brother Finneas perform his own set across a field a few minutes earlier, but many more had hunkered down for hours to secure a prime spot.
Eilish’s career began in earnest when she released “ocean eyes,” a moody bit of synth-pop written by Finneas — whom she calls “the most talented songwriter I’ve ever met in my life” — via SoundCloud in 2016. The singer was 14 at the time. That song led to an EP (2017’s Don’t Smile at Me), followed by this year’s millions-selling debut album, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? Combined, Eilish’s songs have been streamed roughly 17 billion times, while “bad guy” finally topped the Billboard Hot 100 in August after a record-setting nine-week run at No. 2.
Of course, that nine-week run coincided with the record-setting 17-week streak achieved by Lil Nas X’s eternal “Old Town Road.” For her part, Eilish insists she wasn’t following the charts.
“I didn’t give a f***,” she says. “I didn’t even know. Like, I didn’t even know. Like, bro. And then paparazzi followed me around the airport, like, ‘How do you feel that Lil Nas is No. 1 and you’re No. 2?’ I’m like, ‘I don’t give a f***! Let him live! Damn!’ Like, why can’t he have a No. 1, you know what I mean?”
In this interview for All Songs Considered, Eilish talks about getting through her teenaged years, directing her own videos, prepping for a world tour, experiencing art with synesthesia and much more.
When you’re defining Caroline Rose, genre is secondary to personality. Rose’s signature red track suit may at first glance bear semblance to a vulnerable, melancholy Wes Anderson creation, but her lyrics shed light on a much stronger, outgoing, and comedy-inclined character.
Rose is comfortable with rockabilly, pop punk and everything in between those lines, and us here at KUTX have never sated our appetite for her music, even after three Studio 1A appearances and a ton of spins on our airwaves. Caroline Rose plays an official ACL Fest Late Night show tomorrow night at Scoot Inn and 11:45am this Sunday at the Miller Lite stage. Prepare yourself to laugh, rock out, and just in general have a blast, starting with a cut from one two Studio 1A sessions recorded last year, “Jeannie Becomes A Mom”!
Photo: Gabriel C. Pérez
Photo by Gabriel C. Pérez/KUTX. Caroline Rose (center) is the guest DJ.
Caroline Rose is drawn to odd combinations. We fell in love with her 2018 album Loner for its mix of sardonic lyrics and sticky power-pop melodies, and as our guest DJ this week, Rose throws together a wonderfully strange hour of sounds and moods. She highlights classical influences in the Backstreet Boys, shows how songs can be both funny and political, and plays Buddy Guy and Ace Of Base back-to-back. Hear Rose’s My KUTX on Saturday, October 12 at 6 p.m. or listen at any time in the player below, and be sure to catch her at ACL Fest on Sunday, October 13 at 11:45 a.m.
–Art Levy // producer, My KUTX
1. The Dave Brubeck Quartet – “Take Five”
2. Chris Isaak – “Wicked Game”
3. Buddy Guy – “First Time I Met The Blues”
4. Ace Of Base – “All That She Wants”
5. Backstreet Boys – “We’ve Got It Goin’ On” (clip)
6. Edvard Grieg (London Philharmonic Orchestra) – “Peer Gynt Suite No. 1, Op. 46: In The Hall Of The Mountain King” (clip)
7. Bob Dylan – “Oxford Town”
8. Lauryn Hill – “Everything Is Everything”
9. Wax Tailor – “Que Sera”
10. Incubus – “Just A Phase” (clip)
11. Dick Dale & His Del-Tones – “Miserlou”
12. The Beach Boys – “Good Vibrations”
13. Timbaland – “Give It To Me” (feat. Justin Timberlake & Nelly Furtado)
14. Kodo – “Lion”
One of the coolest things about ACL is that it puts local artists on the same stages and in front of the same crowds as the mainstream giants. So it’s great to see that native Austinite Jane Ellen Bryant has finally landed a space out at Zilker for one of her hometown’s most attended events.
The delicate folk-Americana style heard on Bryant’s 2013 debut LP has since evolved into a sassy presence that’s somewhere between Jenny Lewis and Heart, with equally immaculate vocals and guitar. Jane Ellen Bryant plays 1PM tomorrow at the Tito’s Handmade Vodka stage and although Bryant treated us to a new EP last year with Let Me Be Lost, we’re gonna revisit Twenties with her Studio 1A session from all the way back in 2016: “Easy Mistake”!
If you’re on a tight budget and can’t treat yourself to a day out at the festival, you’re not completely out of luck. Among the cast of late night performers is our April 2018 Artist of the Month, and one of Austin’s most soulful multi-instrumentalist-producers, Mobley.
His one-man-band style and auteur approach has secured a steady following for Mobley, who at this point is no stranger to touring non-stop (often with big names) or composing for major television networks. Mobley plays a FREE official ACL Fest late night show 11:30pm this Friday at Stubb’s and you can pre-game with a live Studio 1A session from last year. Just try not to “Swoon”.
Photo: Salvador Castro