The party had an open bar, but Billie Eilish was nowhere near the free champagne. At 17, the evening’s star and musical guest was a good 10 years younger than most of the hip Manhattan crowd filling the cavernous Lower East Side gallery on a February night. The occasion? The launch of her magazine cover for Garage, created by the renowned artist Takashi Murakami.

Eilish, a singer-songwriter beloved by Gen Z–she has 15 million Instagram followers–is not yet a household name. But with her debut album, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, out March 29, she’s well on her way. Even before its release, she has nearly 6 billion streams across platforms and is Spotify’s second most popular female artist this year. And she got there on the strength of an image that’s equal parts enigmatic and open, and music that swings from eerie trap-pop to whisper-sweet balladry, all wrapped up in existential pain. Her refusal to conform makes her a voice of a generation that desires authenticity above all. “I don’t care what you don’t like about me,” she says. “I care what I have to say.”


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