Billie Eilish and Finneas give David Letterman a lesson in the intricacies of vocal production in a clip from Eilish’s episode of My Next Guest Needs No Introduction, which premiered today, May 20, on Netflix.
In the clip, Eilish explains that she crafts her studio vocals through a process called “comping”: Rather than just singing the song all the way through and using that, Eilish records a ton of takes and “makes sure there’s something usable” in each one for every part of the song. After all the takes are laid down, Eilish and Finneas essentially stitch the best parts into the final performance that’s heard on the record.
To illustrate this, Finneas pulls up the ProTools session with Eilish’s final vocal on “Happier Than Ever,” which features a ton of dark lines peppered through the file. Each strike represents the start of a different take, and as the song plays, Letterman watches in awe as Eilish notes how many takes were put together to create the song: “And you would never know!” she exclaims.
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Speaking for probably everyone, Letterman notes, “To hear your voice in this context is a little bizarre, because I’m looking at things there representing, actually, the voice. I’m hearing the voice, which is, ‘Oh my God.’ And you’re just sitting right there. It’s a little crazy.”
Along with taking Letterman through her recording process, Eilish also took the comedian go-karting on her episode of My Next Guest. The show’s new season also features Cardi B, Kevin Durant, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Ryan Reynolds, and Will Smith (Smith’s interview was reportedly filmed before he slapped Chris Rock at the Oscars).