Billie Eilish on the lack of female headliners at festivals: “I remember thinking that I would never be able to headline anything”

Billie Eilish shares her thoughts on how it feels to "a young woman and headline festivals" ahead of her Glastonbury headlining set

Billie Eilish has commented on the expectations put on female performers to have “the biggest show”, sharing that she remembers thinking “I would never be able to headline anything”

Speaking to NME for this week’s Big Read cover story ahead of her headlining performance at Glastonbury Festival, Eilish shared that she felt it “was so cool to be a young woman and headline festivals, because it’s so male-dominated,” adding that she had felt “hopeless” for the future of women in music in 2017 and 2018.

“I would see these line-ups for festivals and it was all dudes. And it was all artists I liked, but it was just like, ‘When will women be involved?'”, Eilish continued. “Women have to have a million back-up dancers and a million costume changes and their hair done, and crazy costumes and stage set-up. I love male performers, but they barely have to do shit to have a show that people like, and women are expected to have the biggest show.”

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“I’m tired of feeling like we have to do that to feel adequate. If you want to do that, then that’s so great, but I remember thinking that I would never be able to headline anything because of those expectations.”

Billie Eilish on the cover of NME
Billie Eilish on the cover of NME

Eilish also touched on her struggles with Imposter Syndrome on The Big Read, describing her need to win over the crowd at Glastonbury. “I often feel like I don’t deserve to be here right now doing this show and on this stage. Any time in the last year I’ve headlined a festival, I’ve felt like, ‘Why would you choose me?’ With that in mind, I’m going to go even harder to prove to myself that I can do it and not to half-ass it… I will be going out and full-assing it,” she explained.

She added that while gigs like Glastonbury helped with the negative thoughts associated with Imposter Syndrome, “Half of me is like, ‘This is so stupid and so humilating that I’m here, I shouldn’t be allowed to be up here or ready for this’. And then the other side says, ‘No, you’re here; they chose you and they’re here for you’. I have to convince myself that I’m not a huge loser and accidentally there… I find it very hard to process this life sometimes.”

Billie Eilish
Credit: Matty Vogel

Read our full NME Big Read cover interview with Billie Eilish here, where she also delves into her new material, her work with sibling Finneas, and her pursuit of happiness in a transitional period in her life.

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Eilish recently added another leg to her ‘Happier Than Ever’ world tour, announcing six tour dates in Asia this August. The shows will mark her first-ever headlining shows in the continent, having previously performed in Singapore, Tokyo and Osaka in 2018 as part of the Laneway and Summer Sonic festivals.

Eilish is currently on tour through Europe and the UK, with a previously announced tour of Australia and New Zealand set to kick off in September.

NME have also announced a limited edition print magazine to celebrate our Big Read cover story with Billie Eilish ahead of her historic set as Glastonbury’s youngest-ever headliner. The printed magazine will be limited to just 1000 copies with Billie’s cover feature included.

Stay tuned to NME.com and socials to find out how to get your hands on a copy very soon.

Check back at NME here for the latest news, reviews, interviews, photos and more from Glastonbury 2022.

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