“Rebel,” “Pop Idol,” “Star Child,” “Biggest Artist on The Planet,” are only a handful of the magazine-cover-monikers attributed to singer-songwriter Billie Eilish. At only seventeen years old, Eilish has logged a bevy of accolades, including three MTV Video Music Awards and two Guinness World Records for most simultaneous Billboard Hot 100 entries by a female and youngest female to reach No. 1 on the UK albums chart. Although the monikers might err on being trite, the artist they currently ornament is anything but.
Billie Eilish’s rise to prominence is archetypal of a post streaming world, where talent is self-made, self-styled, self-produced, and self-promoted prior to being selected for representation by a major record label. Eilish found her audience on SoundCloud through the 2016 release of her hit single “Ocean Eyes.” A-typical of the later-millenial/gen-z star, however, is her maintenance of independence. It takes more than a moment of effortful thought to conceive of another artist (Lady Gaga?) who has entered the limelight within the past fifteen years and managed to retain Eilish’s level of genuine individuality. Her style, dance, art direction, and musicality ring with an authenticity that comes as a refreshment in a Insta-curated world. So real is the production, that her brother, Finneas, remains Billie’s only songwriting partner to date.
It is not only for her powerful music, but also for her commitment to artistic individualism that the Unagi team was beyond thrilled to find out that Eilish is a major fan of the Unagi Model One electric scooter. Billie is so big a fan, in fact, that she doesn’t simply ride her Unagi around her neighborhood – like the rest of us – but also takes it around the studio, on stage, and, famously, across the grounds of music festivals like Coachella.
Having heard of Billie’s love for Unagi, our CEO, David Hyman, decided to prepare a surprise for her. With a concept in mind, David asked Unagi’s head designer to look into creating a custom electric scooter for our wunderkind appreciator, at which point he tapped into his longtime friend, world-renowned graffiti artist Toons.
Born and raised in Los Angeles during the burgeoning nascency of west coast hip, Toons was introduced to “style writing” – later known as graffiti – through a member of his popping and break dancing crew. In time, his artistry would see Toons travel around the world, creating murals for both private and government clients. In addition to the United States, Toon’s art has been displayed publicly in Mexico, Switzerland, Germany, and in the UAE where his work was commissioned by the Dubai Royal Family. Additionally, Toons has created portraits of several notable figures – including hip-hop artist Drake – and, like Eilish, also holds two Guinness world records for largest graffiti canvas and largest glow in the dark graffiti mural.
Keeping a critical ear towards pop culture for the better part of his life, Toons was more than familiar with Eilish’s music, “It’s interesting because I had heard her music before I knew who she was, and I don’t know if she knows the history, but she’s a direct descendant of [hip-hop] – her style of music and her style of get down,” and, given his appreciation for Billie’s work, Toon’s enthusiasm for the project was not unexpected, “When I heard this was the iPhone of scooters and saw the pictures I was like wha[aaaa]t … I was excited to be one of the first people with the ability to customize it, and it was dope to be able to do it for someone like Billie.”
With David’s vision for the customized scooter laid out, Toons got to work, “As far as the technique, it wasn’t an easy task because of the bind and everything . . . it takes time. Using a stencil, you have to mask off each part and do it section by section, a very involved process, but the results were really good.”
After completing his bespoke electric scooter, Toons handed off the Unagi to David, who delivered it to Billy backstage in San Francisco during the onset of her latest tour. Needless to say, Unagi’s No. 1 supporter was more than excited.
All of us at Unagi are grateful not only for Billie’s support, but for all the love you’ve shown us in the short time we’ve been working to bring you the best electric scooter on the planet. Now don’t be a bad guy and go listen to some Billie Eilish.