In a recent video for SPACES, a YouTube series from independent music label AWAL, Finneas O'Connell—pop singer Billie Eilish's brother and producer, known professionally as FINNEAS—gives a tour of his home studio in Los Angeles, the house where he and Eilish grew up.
The video is a softly-lit snapshot of Finneas' creative process and lends some confidential context to the duo's brand of emotional electronic pop.
Amid shots of the classic markers of a childhood home—old framed photos, a sweet and tired-looking dog, height markers etched up against a door frame—O'Connell guides the camera through the house to the titular home studio itself, a bedroom cramped with monitors, a piano, and various recording equipment. O'Connell tells the story, as the camera pans over to the small bed pushed against the wall, of how Eilish recorded most of her vocals for her latest release WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO? cross-legged on the comforter. His production style relies on accessibility and intimacy, as he himself explains: "[I]t's all about...immediacy. The way I want any home studio to function is...as fast as I can think of an idea, I want to be able to articulate it." The viewer watches O'Connell as he fiddles with audio tracks on Logic Pro, plays with vocals on a sample pad, and performs a rendition of his own song, "Break My Heart Again," on the piano, experimenting with the tools that built his and Eilish's musical world.
It's intriguing to see the way O'Connell's constructed the space, being invited into it this way, and even more so once you understand what comes out of it. Billie Eilish is one of the biggest names in pop right now, and the sound that made her so popular came out of this small, repurposed family space. The home studio has been gaining traction for years, as new artists have been leapfrogging the gatekeepers of music production in order to keep their sound intact, not to mention the exorbitant cost of professional studio time. More and more artists like O'Connell and Eilish are producing music in intimate spaces like this, spaces that value their artistic vision and manage to come out with songs that take up considerable room in conversations about pop. It'll be interesting to note, as time goes on, whether larger labels will acquiesce to support artists sustaining creative environments like this, or if more artists will trend towards home studios to keep the creation of their music as something that belongs to them.
SPACES: Inside the Tiny Bedroom Where FINNEAS and Billie Eilish Are Redefining Pop Music www.youtube.com
Matthew Apadula is a writer and music critic from New York. His work has previously appeared on GIGsoup Music and in Drunk in a Midnight Choir. Find him on Twitter @imdoingmybest.
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