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Finneas does it all.

Besides writing, producing, and touring with sister Billie Eilish, Finneas (born Finneas Baird O’Connell) also works with pop’s biggest names, including Camila Cabello and Justin Bieber. His solo career isn’t off to a bad start, either.

Finneas released his debut album, “Optimist,” on Oct. 15, but not before racking up eight Grammys with Eilish and being named the world’s No. 1 songwriter by Spotify in 2020, all at 24 years old. Despite his numerous collaborations, Optimist” is a feat accomplished all on his own (with the exception of string instrumentation in “A Concert Six Months From Now,” his opening track about a fantasy at the Hollywood Bowl).


His album addresses themes from love to the intricacies of fame to today’s Internet-consumed society. The album even features a song called “Peaches Etude,” dedicated to his beloved pitbull.

In advance of his show Thursday at House of Blues, the Globe sat down with Finneas (virtually) to hear more about “Optimist,” why a pessimist like him would pick that title, and which artists he’d like to produce.

Q. Where are you right now?

A. In Chicago, I played the Vic Theatre last night and have a day off here before I continue on tour.

Q. How was the show?

A. It was super fun. My girlfriend is from Chicago, so I get to spend time with her family this week and bring them all to the show.

Q. What’s been your favorite song to perform on tour?

A. “Around My Neck” has been really fun. My favorite song on this whole album is “Only a Lifetime.” I’ve been trying to write that for years and years, and I’m really proud of that one. Playing that live and hearing the crowd sing along brings me a lot of joy.


Billie Eilish and her brother, Finneas, accept Record of the Year honors for "Everything I Wanted" at the Grammy Awards in March.
Billie Eilish and her brother, Finneas, accept Record of the Year honors for "Everything I Wanted" at the Grammy Awards in March.Chris Pizzello

Q. At what point did you come up with the title “Optimist”?

A. When I knew “A Concert Six Months From Now” was going to be on the record, I loved that line — the “I guess I’m an optimist” line. I don’t feel like a default optimistic person. I feel pretty pessimistic, to be honest. But I thought of optimism as an aspirational quality, like wanting to be an optimist was something I felt especially in the last 12 to 18 months. I like the idea of calling the album “Optimist because there are so many heavy songs on this record. I like the connotation it would give those songs of, ‘Wow, he’s saying he’s an optimist. That’s crazy.’”

Q. You wrote “A Concert Six Months From Now” in 2017, so how did you choose to bring a song back from so long ago to this album?

A. The way I measure songs I write a long time ago is if they stopped meaning something to me, like I articulated that better on a later song, or that’s not how I feel anymore. But something about that song always mattered to me. Part of the reason I never put it out was I always thought it was such an album song.

Q. How does it feel to have performed, arranged, and produced everything all on your own?

A. It’s pretty fun because it sounds exactly how I want it to sound. I love collaborating with other producers and writers, and it’s something I would totally be open to doing on my solo music in years to come, but this one feels really good to have just me.


Q. You have synesthesia, right? Are there any colors you associate with the album?

A. The album itself is this dark, starry night kind of a thing. “The Kids Are All Dying” has this yellow hue to it, like a sunrise. “Happy Now” is blue. “How It Ends” is an autumn, sort of rusty leaf looking thing.

Q. Why did you decide to write a song for your dog, Peaches?

A. During COVID, [I] was sitting around my piano a lot, and Peaches would be sitting on the couch eating a dog treat or gnawing on a bone. I didn’t know what the word “etude” meant when I wrote the piece, but an etude is typically short, written on one instrument, [and] designed to make the person playing better at the instrument. That was the exact truth of what that piece is for me because I’m not a very good pianist, and so in writing, I got way better at playing piano keys.

Finneas with Peaches at the musician's studio in Los Angeles. One of the songs on "Optimist" is dedicated to the pitbull.
Finneas with Peaches at the musician's studio in Los Angeles. One of the songs on "Optimist" is dedicated to the pitbull.Chantal Anderson/NYT

Q. You have all these different sounds in your music. How do you pick up on these details?

A. I used to go crazy on sounds in the first couple Billie projects and the first stuff I was working on. I really enjoyed that, but I also became self-conscious and a little worried I might be becoming a gimmick. I don’t want to be the sound effect guy. I’ve made a conscious decision to be more restrained when I’m using sound effects. That’s been a fun experiment as a producer. Initially, it was like, let me see if I can use the sound of this door slamming in this song. Now it’s let me see if I can use no sound effects in the song. I’m always trying to make sure I’m producing the song as best as I can without relying on some trick I’ve already used.


Q. Besides Billie, you’ve produced for a lot of other artists as well. Who is one artist you’d love to produce for that you haven’t already?

A. There’s so many. I’ve been a big fan lately of Nessa Barrett and a big fan of Lexi Jayde. I’d love to work with them in the coming period of time.

Q. If you could live in an era that isn’t the ‘90s, what would it be?

A. Maybe the Medieval times, maybe the Renaissance period. Maybe when Shakespeare was posted up at the Globe and go see all of Shakespeare’s plays. That would be fire.


At House of Blues, Nov. 18 at 7 p.m. www.concerts.livenation.com

Riana Buchman can be reached at riana.buchman@globe.com.