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Billie Eilish recalls moment she realised her ‘friends’ were employees

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Billie Eilish has claimed she lost all of her friends when she shot to global fame as a teenage pop star.

The “Bad Guy” singer, 22, achieved widespread recognition with her debut single “Ocean Eyes” before shooting to global fame upon the release of her first album, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? when she was just 17 years old.

In a special episode of Lily Allen and Miquita Oliver’s podcast Miss Me?, Eilish answered listeners’ questions around the theme of ghosts, prompting her to open up about not having any friends when she first experienced fame.

“I lost all of my friends when I got famous,” she said. “Literally all except one. My best friend Zoe who I’ve been friends with since I was like two. She is still my girl.

“But she’s pretty much the only person that remained. I suddenly was famous and I couldn’t relate to anybody. It was tough. It was really hard.”

Oliver then asked her whether she tried to call those people up when she got back from tour, only to find they weren’t answering.

“I tried but I think I felt resentful that I didn’t feel… Like I don’t know I was so young,” Eilish responded, revealing that she realised all her “friends” were in fact her employees during a moment at her 20th birthday.

Billie Eilish says she realised she had no real friends when she looked around her at her 20th birthday party
Billie Eilish says she realised she had no real friends when she looked around her at her 20th birthday party (Getty Images for ABA)

“I remember looking around the room and it was only people that I employ,” she said. “And all 15 years or more older than me. And then, one of my best friends, who worked with me, quit. Out of the blue and didn’t talk to me. And it was the worst thing that happened to me.”

“I had this realisation that oh no, I might be actually alone for real,” she said. “So since then I’ve become very distant in that way from people that I work with and I have a very weird relationship to being friendly with people that I work with because I’m very freaked out by loss and I have a lot of abandonment problems.

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“Also I would get into relationships and that would be my one friend… even if it was a relationship that I didn’t necessarily really want after a second, I’d be like well, that’s all I have.

“And then I worked really hard on friendship and making friends, and making new friends, and rekindling old friendships and about exactly a year ago, I reconnected with a bunch of old friends and now, I have so many friends.”

Lana Del Rey and Billie Eilish onstage at Coachella 2024
Lana Del Rey and Billie Eilish onstage at Coachella 2024 (YouTube)

Eilish revealed that she then grew emotional during Coachella festival this year, in April, when she was on the way to a party.

“We get in the car and my friends were like what’s going on are you ok? And I was like totally fine… And I burst into tears,” she recalled. “And they said what’s going on and I was like guys, I have friends and I just love you guys so much and it’s been so long since I’ve had friends. I cried… and it’s literally because I actually have friendship now again.”

Eilish is currently supporting the release of her third album, Hit Me Hard and Soft. Read Helen Brown’s review here.

Miss Me? is available every Monday and Thursday on BBC Sounds.

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