Another song, “Wish You Were Sober,” laments someone who would only admit their feelings for Gray when smashed. “They would always call me at a party, so I made this a party song,” he says. “I like to write songs that sound fun, but when you listen to the lyrics you’re like, this is actually kind of depressing. ” Lead single "Maniac" has close to 90 million streams on Spotify alone, and was recently added to BBC1’s roation. “I think music right now is so honest and so real because it has to be, because people are smart.
He worked with producer Daniel Nigo, best known for contributions to Caroline Polacheck’s “So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings” and songs on Sky Ferreira’s Night Time, My Time. “I wrote all the songs myself, and I’d show them to him,” Gray says. “He’d either be like ‘Oh, this is a crappy song, that’s not going on the album,’ or he’d be like ‘That’s a great one, that’s going on the album.
But for people still figuring out who, exactly, Billie Eilish is, Gray might look like just another model off the record industry’s Gen Z conveyor belt of sad pop. “I started writing songs and putting them up online when I was twelve,” said Gray recently on the phone from Los Angeles. “Nobody gave a flying fuck that I was making songs.
After nearly shedding a tear over the idea of one day getting a record deal, Gray gave tips on how others could gain a YouTube following. “If your number-one goal in YouTube, or anything, is to get famous, then you should probably stop and not be a YouTuber,” he told his followers. “If you have a passion for being famous, but not a passion for making videos, or art, of singing or something like that, you probably shouldn’t be pursuing something that you don’t have passion for.
Some fans make jokes in the comment section (“Director: how cute do you want this to be? ; Conan: yes”) but might not realize that Gray did most of the work on the video himself, alongside his best friend Ashley. “We’d just tape my camera onto a car and shoot it,” he said. “The drum in that song isn’t even a drum sound.
Gray isn’t necessarily chasing career milestones, anyway. “I have so many dreams, but these days, I try to take it day by day because all of this is happening so fast and I just really hope I get to keep making music and people are able to relate,” he said. “Ultimately, I hope that I make my songs, and I disappear off the face of the earth and everyone forgets that I exist.
That’s small compared to YouTube royalty (Makeup guru James Charles, for example, has 17 million), but enough to suddenly push the video viral. “I had 100,00 subscribers and was like ‘Oh, that’s a lot of people,’ but in my head I didn’t really understand what 100,000 people were,” he said. “I put it up and within a week it had gotten a half million views and I was like, ‘Wow, that’s a lot of views,’ but I didn’t really realize that that was a lot, you know? I didn’t get it.