Last week, Billie Eilish came under fire when a compilation video surfaced on TikTok depicting Eilish mouthing an anti-Asian racist slur while singing along to Tyler, the Creator’s 2011 song “Fish.” In another clip, the pop singer-songwriter is seen what many have surmised as imitating an accent.
Videos by American Songwriter
Eilish took to Instagram stories on Monday (June 21) to address the controversy, claiming she was “13 or 14” at the time the videos were filmed. “I mouthed a word from a song that at the time I didn’t know was a derogatory term and used against members of the Asian community. I am appalled and embarrassed and want to barf that I ever mouthed along to that word,” she wrote. “This song was the only time I’d ever heard that word as it was never used around me by anyone in my family. Regardless of my ignorance and age at the time, nothing excuses the fact is that it was hurtful. And for that I am sorry.”
The other video, she says, is just her “speaking in a silly gibberish made up voice… something I started doing as a kid and have done my whole life when talking to my pets, friends, and family. It is absolute gibberish and just me goofing around, and is in NO way an imitation of anyone or any language, accent or culture in the SLIGHTEST. Anyone who knows me has seen me goofing around with voices my whole life.”
“Regardless of how it was interpreted I did not mean for any of my actions to have caused hurt to others and it absolutely breaks my heart that it is being labeled now in a way that might cause pain to people hearing it,” she concluded. “I not only believe in, but have always worked hard to use my platform to fight for inclusion, kindness, tolerance, equity and equality. We all need to continue having conversations, listening and learning. I hear you and I love you. Thank you for taking the time to read this.”
Eilish will release her second album, Happier Than Ever, next month (July 30).