In this weekly series, we spotlight the performers and other participants who will combine for the Emerge Music + Impact Conference on the Las Vegas Strip November 16-18. Tickets are available now at emergelv.com.
The word that springs to mind upon first listen of indie-pop singer-songwriter Billie Eilish’s layered, lilting tracks is “how.” As in, how does a 15-year-old sound like she’s been living and singing for at least twice that long? How does she write lyrics that hearken back to old-school pop-soul before twisting in surprising ways? And how has she not exploded into a full-fledged star yet?
Those questions will likely be answered at November’s Emerge Music + Impact Conference, where Eilish, born and raised in LA by actors and musicians, will take the stage among other up-and-comers sure to break big in Las Vegas.
Eilish originally collaborated with her brother Finneas O’Connell in releasing two songs to Soundcloud, but it was her first solo track, “Ocean Eyes”—a song O’Connell had been playing with his band—that set fire to her name. The ballad, which was eventually released by Interscope Records, showcases Eilish’s sugary voice, emotional tone and melodic style.
But it’s the more recent track “Bellyache” that will stick in your head forever. Soft percussion and acoustic guitar strumming rotate into an indie-electro chorus over which Eilish coos, “Where’s my mind/Maybe it’s in the gutter/Where I left my lover/What an expensive fate.”
How has such a young artist carved out her own take on modern pop music?