There is something to be said for bedroom hobbyists.
That can be for those who create videogames in their bedroom to those who produce smash-hit records.
One such artist who has achieved success is Billie Eilish.
Her co-writer, producer, and older brother, Finneas O’Connell recorded the album in his bedroom where he lives with his family.
With the right talent and support, you can go from posting a song on Soundcloud that explodes overnight to having a career trajectory like a rocket aiming for the stars.
Billie Eilish was the first artist who was born in the 21st century to get a number one hit on the Billboard 200 in early April 2019.
Fast forward three and a half years later and Billie Eilish has amassed over one billion on-demand streams before she released her debut album.
This full-length album, titled When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? achieved 3.75 billion streams by April 25.
That’s quite the achievement.
12 out of the 14 album tracks also made Billboard’s top 100.
Did I mention that she was only 17?
O’Connell has gone on to say that the fact that her album was recorded and produced in her bedroom has become part of her history.
She says that it was great to be able to create an album there, a place where she is both familiar and comfortable, but she also said that it is important to be able to create music wherever you are and whenever the mood strikes you.
It also makes sense to her the right tools for the job too.
You don’t want the latest and greatest DAW and VSTs if you are not going to use them or you do not know how to.
And the bedroom in question isn’t a properly kitted out studio either.
It’s simply a regular bedroom.
Eilish sat and recorded her vocals whilst O’Connell got to work on his modest production setup.
And when I say modest, I do mean it.
What DAW Software Does Finneas Use in 2020?
To answer the title question of what DAW software does FInneas use, the answer is Apple’s Logic Pro X.
This is combined with a Universal Audio Apollo 8 interface and two Yamaha HS5 nearfields and a subwoofer that is an H8S.
Since moving out, O’Connell has slightly upgraded his recording gear in his new home.
This includes an Apollo X and a pair of Yama HS8 monitors.
It was only when O’Connell started recording in a different location that he realized how different recording in that bedroom sounded.
He mentioned that the sound was very tight, intimate, quiet.
It was great for how it made vocals sound, which is evident throughout the album.
But Eilish’s next album may not sound like the previous one.
That’s because she records all her solo material at her new house and so the room acoustics are different.
But O’Connell believes that he and Eilish will work together again whenever Billie is ready to.
And even if they don’t record a full album together, O’Connell knows he can go back to that bedroom and just record the vocals to capture that unique and specific sound whenever he needs to.
When you listen to Eilish’s music there is a clear hip-hop influence, but it also covers other genres as well.
These sounds often feature vocals that have heavy effects applied to them.
This is what is termed as ‘Billie Eilish music’.
She also likes to use specific sound effects in her songs, such as from a dentist’s drill or an Easy-Bake oven.
When you listen to the song ‘Bad Guy’ it’s the three-part harmony and rhythm that grabs you, says O’Connell, not the vocal melody you hear on the verses.
What VST Plugins Does Finneas Use in 2020?
That’s all down to the secrets of Logic Pro X and its Vocal Transformer plugin.
O’Connell says that the plugin is good at making unique and crazy sounding vocals.
However, the plugin is not the easiest to use, nor is it that intuitive.
But if you mess with it a bit, twiddle the knobs and slide the dials, things get interesting and inspiring.
He goes on to say that this was the plugin that helped to achieve the rattlesnake vocal effect used on the song ‘Bad Guy’.
O’Connell also uses a lot of harsh tremolos.
Setting it at zero percent smooth.
This chops the signal and then he sets it to eighth or sixteenth note values before setting the depth.
When O’Connell and Eilish first worked together, producing such songs as ‘Ocean Eyes’, ‘Six Feet Under’ and ‘Bellyache’ he used an Audio Technica AT2020 cardioid condenser mic on the vocals that his sister recorded.
More recently though this has changed.
He now uses a Neumann TLM 103 large-diaphragm mic.
He goes on record as saying that he recommends this mic to anyone because it is so good.
When you have some free time, he plans to do a microphone shootout and try some things to see which one is best for his needs.
He has also bought a pair of TLM 103s and wants to use them to eventually record his piano.
But when working on Eilish’s productions he has always only ever used virtual instruments (VSTs).
This includes Keyscape by Spectrasonics.
O’Connell rates that as being amazing, especially in Dark Indie pianos.
He believes that his piano, located in his parent’s room, is not suitable for recording.
For him, it’s more fun to write on it than to record on a MIDI keyboard.
He especially enjoys tweaking MIDI parts to change and perfect them.
When O’Connell has finished working on Eilish’s tracks producer Rob Kinelski takes over.
Everything that O’Connell receives from Kinelski is mixed, pre-compressed, and pre-panned.
All the delays and reverb have also been added.
O’Connell doesn’t look for everything to be fixed, more for it to be more balanced and to make sure it sounds good everywhere.
O’Connell also works with both Justin Hergett, a Grammy-nominated mixer, and engineer, to help him mix his solo work.
He believes that Hergett is quick at getting stuff done and that it is fun to watch how he mixes.
There was a time when Finneas couldn’t afford a sound engineer or mixer to help him.
However, he believes that a lack of budget should not stop someone from making music if they want to.
O’Connell believes that ‘Ocean Eyes’, which he mixed and mastered and was uploaded to Soundcloud, saved their lives.
After all, it caught the attention of the management team and record label who are now behind Eilish.
O’Connell thought that when he started out making music, he could only do so by paying people to make it all sound professional.
He now understands that he was wrong.
Instead, it’s important to think that nothing is out of your reach and to focus on simply creating a song that people will like.