Billie Eilish, yep the young gal who’s absolutely dominated 2019 with her debut album of goopy, industrial-tinged pop, has revealed that her utterly humungous single ‘Bad Guy’ has a tiny little bit of Australia in it. Specifically, a sound that we hear every god damn fucking day; a pedestrian crossing.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, Billie and her producer/musician brother FINNEAS talked about how they crafted together arguably one of the biggest songs of the year, ranging from compressing and layering vocals, working separately in their own bedroom studio setups, and recording voice memos on the streets of Sydney.
While Billie was on tour over here (I’m assuming for Laneway Festival back in 2017, considering the voice memo is dated ‘February 5th’) she heard the pedestrian crossing sound and was instantly obsessed.
“My mom and I went for a walk in Sydney, we were like across the street from the hotel,” Billie said.
“The crosswalk was this little, like, you press it and it’s like ‘doop…doop’ and I was like that’s hard! That’s the sound that it makes when you have to wait.”
So Billie whipped out her phone and recorded the sound of our humble pedestrian crossings, which she admits spooked her a bit when the ‘walk’ sound kicked up.
Saved as “Grart” in her phone (which is apparently the name of the official sample file too), Billie took it back to Finneas to muck around with. He compressed the shit out of it, sped it up a touch, and it’s now the hi-hat that drives the beat of the chorus of ‘Bad Guy’.
Finneas also plays the sample unaltered as its meant to hit in ‘Bad Guy’ and it sounds hilarious. But compressed down, it’s perfect.
Yes. The song that has just landed Billie Eilish a handful and a bit of Grammy nominations shot her to the top of the charts, and will probably take out the Hottest 100 for 2019 has a fucking pedestrian crossing from Sydney weaved into it. Christ on a bike this has absolutely made my day.
Watch the whole breaking down of the mammoth track below, and their story of nicking crossing samples from Sydney kicks in at around the 6:50min mark. I’ll never be able to un-hear that ever again.
Billie, you’re bloody welcome. We’re happy to have you here anytime.