As a solo artist, Finneas O’Connell (stylized as FINNEAS) delivers a delicate lyricism and minimalistic production style. Similar to his music, the young artist’s background is humble and bohemian; he was born into a creative family who took pride in fostering an artistic household rather than a lavish lifestyle. “I was always inspired by my parents, who were both actors. We were always on the verge of being broke growing up but they still seemed really happy,” he says. “My parents would be like, ‘You know how we have food on the table every night, a tiny house and an old car? Well, we’re still really happy because we’re doing what we love.’”
The talent borne out of the O’Connell household doesn’t stop with Finneas, though. His younger sister is Billie Eilish, grungy starlet slated to perform at Governors Ball, Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza this summer. When I spoke with Finneas, he was nestled in the bottom bunk bed on the budget bus for Billie’s tour, accompanied by his parents. “Mom is like the day-to-day manager for Billie and Dad is our pseudo-lighting director, which he’s actually pretty good at for never doing it,” he explains.
With piano lessons from dad and songwriting skills gleaned from mom, Finneas was destined to thrive in a musical world. But with his first band, on which he now looks back fondly, he encountered the conventional hardships all young musicians face. “We would play the most ridiculous shows. Like, in the middle of a field. We’d have to bring our own power supply and by the time we’d play, everyone was drunk and nobody was paying attention,” he says. “We’d joke that at least we were getting paid but we weren’t. We never were,” he adds with a chuckle.
While transitioning from a band to working as a solo artist can be problematic, for Finneas, he saw the change as a musical evolution rather than a personal one. “It was fun to have those formative, cut-your-teeth experiences with your best friends. We’re all still friends but I just realized that the music I wanted to make wasn’t going to be fun for a band to play,” he says.
As a solo artist, Finneas has demonstrated the versatility and creative eye of a true star. Earlier this year he released a single “Break My Heart Again,” a track about on-again-off-again communication through texting. “The lyrics in the verses are basically verbatim text conversations I had with an ex-girlfriend,” Finneas says of the song’s inspiration. “I thought it’d be cool to double illustrate that point so I added text and typing sounds to the production.” The song is soft and relatable, highlighting the insanity of millennial love stories.
On the opposite end of the spectrum lives the newest single from Finneas called, “Heaven.” When comparing the recent singles sonically, Finneas says, “If ‘Break My Heart Again’ was a two, ‘Heaven’ is a nine.” The song offers haunting vocals backed by dark beats, building into a creepily beautiful chorus.
Paralleling his musicianship, Finneas crafts his visual aesthetic just as painstakingly. Working with graphic designer and typographer Avis Designs, Finneas has developed an atypical personal brand through his album artwork. “Is it a picture of your face? That’s so boring. No offense to James Blunt but, I just don’t feel that way about my face,” he says. With new singles on the horizon, listeners can expect much more visual and sonic creativity from Finneas in 2018.
Main image credit: Cameron Postforoosh