2018 was a great year for Billie Eilish. She headlined GovBall and Lollapalooza, completed her second North American tour, and closed out December with a hugely successful single, “Come Out and Play”. Now, she’s kicking off 2019 with a new single, “When I Was Older”, inspired by the critically-acclaimed Alfonso Cuarón-directed film Roma (2018), which documents a year in the life of a Mexican domestic worker in the early 1970s.
Written by Eilish and her brother Finneas O’Connell, “When I Was Older” takes many of its sonic elements direct from the movie itself, sampling pieces of the film’s audio track and placing them strategically throughout the song. “When we were composing the song, we wanted to write from within the narrative of the movie and the scenes that struck us the most from it,” the two reveal. “Having access to the sounds used in the film proved to be invaluable to help us convey this. Nothing about this song would exist without the film, which is exactly what we love about it.”
While a bit difficult to see just how this track was inspired by the premise of the film, the idea for the song (and its title) reportedly came from the line, “When I was older… I was a sailor… but I drowned in a storm,” spoken by Pepe (Marco Graf) towards the end of the film. Other than that, parallels between film and single are purely aural
“When I Was Older” is not on the film’s soundtrack, but is instead taken from the upcoming full-length, Music Inspired By Roma. Set to be released via Sony Music Masterworks sometime in the near future, the album will feature various artists hand-picked by Cuarón himself, with each song inspired in some way by specific scenes and sounds from the film.
Listen to the single below.