LA Singer/Songwriter Billie Eilish's "When I Was Older" is a stark, downtempo electro ballad inspired by Alfonso Cuarón's Roma.

Alfonso Cuarón's Roma has been receiving rave reviews since it first debuted at international film festivals, including the Best Foreign Language Film at the Golden Globes. Cuarón's stark, monochromatic glimpse into life in late '70s Mexico City was immediately snagged by Netflix for worldwide distribution. The arty, evocative black-and-white period drama instantly set the world on fire, which is no easy feat for a moody, somber period piece.



Billie Eilish, working with her brother Finneas O’Connell, took inspiration from a line of dialogue in the film "When I was older I used to be a sailor, but I drowned in a storm." Time and causality are turned on their head, where past, present, and future all converge in a singularity of dream logic and poetic imagination.

Eilish is no stranger to working with characters. “I don’t necessarily want to write about my life — there’s only so much going on in my brain," Eilish told Consequence of Sound. If only all Pop Stars would practice such selflessness and radical empathy.

Eilish is only 17 years old. She's wise beyond her years, and people would be wise to listen to her. She speaks candidly on what it is to be young and politically involved during these troubled times. "Bro, teenagers know more about the country that we’re living in right now than anybody," she told the NME in an extensive interview.

Some critics feel that Roma is unable to escape the gravity of its presentation. Slow-burning, black-and-white arthouse dramas are always going to be a niche interest. Pop music has much more crossover appeal. Heavy messaging's much more palatable when it's paired with a sick beat.

"When I Was Older" is not only an exquisite slice of shivering synth pop. It's also an example of excellent film music. Billie Eilish and O'Connell were granted access to the film's incidental music and sound effects. The downtempo ballad is laced with the sounds of ocean waves, student protests, dogs barking. It's like a sonic diary of life in a Mexico City in the late '70s, putting you in their shoes and letting you walk a mile.

Mexico has been all over the American airwaves for the last year, for terrible reasons. Our southern neighbors are being used as a smokescreen and diversionary tactic for an ethically corrupt political machine. Radical empathy is required to put an end to it, remembering that these are people with real Human lives, worthy of Human dignity and respect.

We Are: The Guard love it when good music comes along with a pertinent, powerful message. Listen to "When I Was Older," open your eyes, ears, and heart.


J. Simpson occupies the intersection between criticism, creativity, and academia. Based out of Portland, Or., he is the author of Forestpunk, an online journal/brand studying the traces of horror, supernatural, and the occult through music, fashion and culture. He plays in the dreamfolk band Meta-Pinnacle with his partner Lily H. Valentine, with whom he also co-founded Bitstar Productions, a visual arts collective focused on elevating Pop Culture to High Art.