“I really wanted the whole thing to sound like Animal Crossing”: Billie Eilish and Finneas reveal that Barbie song What Was I Made For? has a Nintendo influence as they break down the track together

Billie Eilish and Finneas have always been refreshingly open about explaining how  they write and produce their songs, and they’ve now given us some further insight into the production of What Was I Made For?, which they contributed to the Barbie movie soundtrack.

A new Vanity Fair video features the sister and brother duo sitting together in front of a MacBook Pro and a 25-note MIDI keyboard, and begins with the pair explaining again that What Was I Made For? Fell into place after a flash of inspiration saw them hit on the title line. We also get to hear a snippet of the original Voice Memo demo of the song which, to be honest, sounds surprisingly well-developed.

Discussing her vocal style in What Was I Made For?, Eilish explains that the held-back falsetto voice she used made it one of “the top three hardest songs I’ve ever had to record,” adding that “It’s not even that it’s high; it is high in my range but it’s not about that, it’s about the delivery”.

Later on, Finneas is keen to praise his sister’s ability to double-track her “jazzy” vocals, noting that he’s never once had to resort to using Synchro Arts’ VocAlign plugin in order to match them up.

We also learn a little more about some of the instruments that were used in the track, one of which was a toy keyboard - a General Electric Tote-a-Tune from the '70s - that was processed using the SketchCassette plugin.

There are some washy, post-prog guitars placed very low in the mix, too, and also an arpeggiated organ that “sounds like a Nintendo DS or something”.

It turns out that there was another Nintendo influence in play, too: “I really wanted the whole thing to sound like Animal Crossing,” says Finneas at one point, as he attempts to pin down the song’s vibe. Whether this revelation will lead the famously avaricious Tom Nook to try and seek out a co-writing credit remains to be seen.

You can check out the full interview at the top of the page.

Ben Rogerson
Deputy Editor

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it. 

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