If you were moved by Roma, Alfonso Cuarón’s film about a middle-class family’s maid in Mexico City in the early 1970s, then you have something in common with Billie Eilish. The 17-year-old has released a new song called “When I Was Older,” inspired by the movie.
The haunting song opens with a lullaby-esque sound that evolves into an electronic, uptempo rhythm as Eilish sings the somber lyrics. “When I was older/ I was a sailor on an open sea/ But now I’m underwater/ And my skin is paler than it should ever be,” she sings.
Eilish said that while composing and writing the song with older brother Finneas O’Connell, they kept Roma’s narrative and the scenes that struck them the most in mind.
“When we were composing the song, we wanted to write from within the narrative of the movie and the scenes that struck us the most from it,” the siblings said in a joint statement. “Having access to the sounds used in the film proved to be invaluable to help us convey this.”
They further explained that even the sounds that took place in the film are laced within the song. “Lines like ‘memories burn like a forest fire’ are accompanied by the sounds of the trees burning in the woods outside the house. The chorus, has the ocean sounds overplayed on it. We were also able to take sounds like the student protest shouts and Borras barking and turn them into rhythmic percussive elements to help drive the song,” the pair said.
The song will appear on the album Music Inspired By Roma, to be released by Sony Music Masterworks. The album will feature various artists that were hand-picked by Cuarón, with all of the songs pulling from specific scenes and sounds from the film. There is no set release date for the album yet.
In their statement about the song, Eilish and O’Connell added, “Nothing about this song would exist without the film, which is exactly what we love about it.”
Stream the new song below.