Music artist FINNEAS and sister Billie Eilish were having, by all accounts a banner year. Cleaning up at the Grammys, performing at the Oscars, writing the most Bond theme song and then the pandemic put the world on pause and, over the past weeks, both FINNEAS and Billie have been lending their voices to the ongoing Black Lives Matter marches sparked by the killing of George Floyd.In a wide-ranging sit-down ahead of his etalk Open House
performance of "Let's Fall in Love for the Night," FINNEAS chatted with Liz Trinnear about his reasons for marching, his belief in the next generation's ability to enact change and touched on the highs—like getting a personal letter from Bono—of a complex and unpredictable 2020.Liz: How is L.A. right now? How are you doing?
FINNEAS: I’m doing great. I think it’s been pretty beautiful to live in Los Angeles during these weeks of peaceful protests. I’ve gotten to participate in a couple of them and just trying to do my part to raise awareness and donate as much money as I can.We really couldn’t have pictured what happened with George Floyd and the social movement that happened after. What have the marches been like for you? And what kind of learning are you doing right now?
I’ll only speak personally because it’s the only thing I feel I’m qualified to do. I would say that to me, when you see something that seems as clear-cut as injustice—in terms of what happened to George Floyd and what happens across the country with sort of systemic oppression and racism in terms of police brutality—because it’s at the behest of law enforcement, it has a tendency to make you feel ostracized and isolated because you’re looking at this status quo and you’re going, 'Oh my god, the status quo is horrible.' I find going to protests to be a very meaningful personal experience because you walk alongside all these people who share the same feelings that you do about how important a human rights issue it is. So I find it very uplifting and encouraging and powerful. So it’s been great to go out.
[video_embed id='1980426']WATCH: FINNEAS performs 'Let's Fall in Love for the Night'[/video_embed]What’s the takeaway for you? Do you see change coming? Do you feel like we are moving in a better direction?
You know, I’m like a pessimistic optimist so yes and I wish it would come faster and swifter and sooner. Yeah, I see change coming. There’s an incredible [Martin Luther King Jr.] quote
that I heard in the midst of this about: the moral arc is long but it bends toward justice—that’s an unbelievable quote but it seems to present itself as true. I think if you look at where we were 50 years ago, we’re somewhere better than that now. I wish we were further along.I’m 22; I look at the generation that’s already a couple years younger than I am and I get really hopeful. So, yeah I think there’s a lot of work to do and I think it depends on how focused this generation can be on it. And truth be told, there’s a lot of work to do and a lot of different directions—I care a tremendous amount about climate change and that’s been a focus of mine these past two or three years.The important thing is finding a way for our generation to take up all of these causes as a kind of unified front—of like, these all
need to be addressed because they’re all for the advancement and betterment of the human race. I see some people get overwhelmed in terms of 'Oh wow, this is so pressing and also that is so pressing and then there’s this other thing that’s so pressing' and I think it’s like, yeah, but it’s important to recognize that they don’t cancel each other out, they just further your argument to why all of [these injustices] are wrong.[video_embed id='1977627']RELATED: Megan Thee Stallion, more celebs attend All Black Lives Matter protest [/video_embed]One special moment you created was with Bono introducing your version of “Beautiful Day” with so many talented young collaborators—what a powerful message and then to also have Bono co-sign. Walk me through that moment—how did it come to happen?
So Bono, on his own birthday, wrote notes
about songs that had been really meaningful to him and he wrote Billie and me a note about the song “Everything I Wanted
.” And it was so sweet and unprovoked and flattering and that was really awesome. And then when I got asked if I wanted to be part of this graduation ceremony
and I found out it was “Beautiful Day,” I was like, 'Well, at least I can go into this thinking that Bono won’t be mad that I’m the one doing it if he likes something else we’ve done.' And then it was just a very cool—the couple-day period where I was just getting sent like Chris Martin’s vocal and Leon Bridges’ vocal and Ty Dolla $ign’s vocal—that was just really cool—popping in the vocal and isolating it and listening to it. I mean, Ty Dolla $ign murdered it. Ty Dolla $ign is so good—that’s the greatest thing about collaboration. Would I have been like, 'You know who would sound amazing singing ‘Beautiful Day’ by U2? Ty Dolla $ign?' But there he is, singing “Beautiful Day” and sounding amazing. I just… I wouldn’t have been able to use my imagination as well as, thankfully, he is. So it was awesome.
You’ve had such an incredible year—it started off with the Grammys—and then the world kind of hit pause. So what has your year been like? If you could sum up 2020 so far, how would you walk us through it?
The first like, 60 days—like all of January, all of February and then the first two weeks of March—were like a blur and just exciting and thrilling and crazy. It was like the Grammys and then I went to New York and did Jimmy Fallon
and then we came back and did the Oscars
and then we went to London and then we did the Brits
and we got to do the Bond song
with Hans Zimmer and then we came home and we went on tour
and then the tour got cancelled and then I’ve been sitting in the same kitchen for like 100 days. I mean, it’s been eclectic. I’m going to be part of the few people that look back—I think most people are going to look back at 2020 as this watershed, like 'Forget that year. That year was terrible. I was born under a bad sign.' And I’m going to be one of the few people that looks at it and goes like, 'Yeah, there was a lot of terrible stuff but on a personal level it was pretty great.'[video_embed id='1976070']RELATED: Niall Horan performs 'Black and White' from his new album 'Heartbreak Weather'[/video_embed]I think we have a tendency to do two things—we look at something that’s great and we forget the bad parts of it because it was great and we think back on the memory and we’re like 'Ah, that was so great! and you forget you go like the worst sunburn of your life that day and you’re just like, 'That was so great!' And then on the other end is like, you do have a really good time and then something terrible happens and you just go like, 'Wow that was terrible.' And I think it’s really important to just remember your life three-dimensionally—just remember that there were good things that happened in bad times and bad things that happened in good times and that’s par for the course.etalk Open House
is a weekly series that features performances and exclusive interviews with incredible talent like The Killers
, Tones and I
, Niall Horan
and more. Catch the series on Thursday night as part of etalk’s regular broadcast at 7pm ET on CTV
and 7:30pm on CTV2.[video_embed id='1967598']BEFORE YOU GO: The Killers frontman Brandon Flowers tells us about leaving Las Vegas[/video_embed]