Listening to a Billie Eilish song for the first time feels as though you've entered an alternate dimension. The Grammy Award-winning singer somehow manages to blend her family dynamics with world experiences to warp music and sound into being an emotional experience.
Eilish has spoken at length about how synesthesia — a neurological phenomenon where stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway, such as hearing, stimulates the other senses alongside it — impacts her work and creative construction. As Pharrell Williams put it simply back in 2008: Seeing Sounds. Synesthesia is often spoken about when it comes to music, but let's be real: everyone would buy a perfume created by a person who can see words as colours, as well as being able to taste sounds. That's pretty awesome, and Billie Eilish was smart enough to jump into the market.
Just like her music, Eilish's new fragrance — Eilish No.2 — is another form of expression. It's almost a year on from Eilish by Billie Eilish (the singer's original ambery, musky, vanilla scent, which sold out in a day) and this new fragrance, comprised of woody earth notes contrasted with a wet poppy note, is designed to complement it.
"Fragrance and scent is something that has literally led my life to be what it is, and I feel incredibly knowledgeable about it," Eilish told Refinery29. "I feel very protective about it, inspired by it, and I really know a lot about scent. It has narrated my entire life." In fact, Eilish has always wanted to make a fragrance, even before it was a possibility.
Though she's on tour in Australia, Eilish took the time to walk me through what makes Eilish No.2 different from the original, not to mention her real thoughts on every celebrity suddenly launching a beauty line...
The Inspiration Behind Eilish No.2, And How It Differs From Eilish
While developing the perfume, Eilish wanted the same level of cohesion between the original and the new version, exactly like her albums. "Each piece should feel very different, but part of the same project," said Eilish. In my opinion, the second fragrance accompanies the first in the same way that "goodbye" (the final track on Eilish's debut album) contains notes and interpolations of the previous tracks. Cosy and warm red berry, mandarin orange and cocoa notes are entwined with vanilla, amber and bergamot at the tail end.
As a result, No.2 is a surprisingly brooding scent, like wearing a weighted blanket. "I wanted it to feel really dark, wet, gray, metallic-y, and cold, but also warm in how it makes you feel," said Eilish. "I wanted it to be a spicier, more gender-fluid feeling — a little bit more in the realm of a spicy, pine needle-y, peppery kind of world," like a stroll through the woods.
Eilish won my heart when she described wanting a rain-type note in the perfume. She describes her favourite, nearly-daily use fragrance as "sexy, salty, sweaty rain". "I wanted it to feel like rain and like water and mist," said Eilish. "Rain smells like something, and damp pavement smells like something. And I wanted to involve that in Eilish No.2."
How Eilish Perfume Is Different To Other Celebrity Beauty Lines
This year has brought us more celebrity skincare, makeup, fragrance — you name it — than ever before. The fatigue is setting in for sure. I come from the land of Fantasy by Britney Spears, Glow by J.Lo (bring it back!) and Heat by Beyoncé, but I recognise that fewer celebrities are working solely in the fragrance industry nowadays. Even Ariana Grande has her fragrances in addition to R.E.M. Beauty. Of course, I had to ask Eilish her thoughts on why she chose to enter fragrance solely — and why she feels hers is different.
"I could care less about making a beauty line, making a makeup line, making a facial whatever-the-fuck line."
Bottom line: Eilish recognises, and even begrudgingly respects the celebrity hustle, even if it's not her thing: "I think about [celebrity beauty lines] too, because the way that the world works is, you know, you're a celebrity and you make fucking this and that, and you put stuff out and you sell it and you make money. And I get it. You make money how you make money, and a lot of beauty products make you a lot of money. So I understand where people are coming from when they make some sort of beauty product."
I could feel the "but" coming...
"But," continued Eilish, "I just don't give a shit about that kind of thing. I really give a shit about fragrance, though." And you know what? More power to her. The assurance that a celebrity is true to this endeavour, and not just in it for the cash-grab, is almost always going to help get people interested and intrigued.
"I could care less about making a beauty line, making a makeup line, making a facial whatever-the-fuck line," Eilish continued. "I don't know shit about any of that, except for what I use personally, and I would never wanna be the spokesperson for something I don't understand."
Billie Eilish fragrances is born from Eilish's passion as much as her music. She is as authentic about this topic as she is talking about her creative process. "Like everybody else, I've been offered lots of beauty things and putting out this and putting out that and putting out a line like this, and I just say no, cause I'm like, 'I don't fucking know anything about that.' And I don't wanna be a fake and be telling people, 'Here, buy my product and gimme money that I have no idea about,' you know?" Eilish says she doesn't care about the money. "I literally don't give a shit at all. I just love fragrance so much and I am so passionate about it, it's not even funny. So there you go."
She's so cool, it's really not fair.