- 30 Oct 20
Dirty Hit darling – and the best thing to happen to grunge-pop in recent memory – beabadoobee discusses her debut album Fake It Flowers, getting tattooed by Mac DeMarco, and why she might yet become a nursery school teacher.
“Dublin and Canada are two of my favourite places!” Beabadoobee says enthusiastically, down the line from her home in London. “My band and I supported Mac DeMarco for his Dublin show, and we got super drunk afterward, and went to a karaoke bar.”
She can’t remember the name of the place – “It’s probably the only one in Dublin,” she frets – but I’ve since deduced from a hazy description that it may well have been the cavernous basement karaoke room of Marrakesh, on Capel Street. “He stick-and-poked a face on my arm! His really nice friend – I forget his name – helped out, and we used vodka to sterilise it. It was quite fun.”
Since then, Bea’s situation has changed drastically due to (say it with me) the global pandemic. Though she assures me the overall situation has been good for her mental health, it’s been difficult for the burgeoning rock star – whose stage name is derived from an old Instagram handle – to stay off social media. “Twitter is a fucking hell hole,” she laughs darkly.
Nevertheless, it’s where a growing number of the population get their news. Even she is susceptible to its trappings.
“There are definitely times of the day where I’m scrolling through post after post about everything that’s happening in the UK, and it blows my mind that people in this world are that corrupt,” says Bea. “Sometimes I get off Twitter after scrolling for ages, and realise I have so much boiled anger in my body that isn’t being released. I feel like all I can do is repost, share and bring awareness to issues as much as possible.
“I try to be a positive person. When the world is in a better place, and shows are on, and I’m able to play live, I hope people can really appreciate the world, music and each other so much more, because of everything that’s happened. I feel like we’ve gained togetherness because we’ve all been through it.
“But I’m trying to take it one day at a time. As if I’ve been given this time to reflect on everything so far, and really appreciate the hard work I’ve done.”
Bea’s accomplishments have indeed been remarkable. In the short space of three years, the 20-year-old has picked up a guitar, decided she wanted to release music, and signed to a record label (The 1975’s Dirty Hit). From humble beginnings as a shy loner, stoner, and the unsuspecting brunt of jokes in a Mean Girls-style group chat, Bea has shared stages with the likes of Clairo and Matty Healy, and can count Rina Sawayama and The Japanese House among her labelmates. Does sheregret not finding her niche sooner?
“Everything happens for a reason,” she says, her usual giddiness deflating ever-so-slightly. “I feel like I found my ‘thing’ at the best time, because that was my saddest point. Still, there were definitely moments in secondary school where it would have been nice for me to know I could write songs and play guitar. If I had known that at 14, I would have been able to enjoy it more, and be passionate about something. But it made everything so much more precious when I finally did find it”.
Bea was given her first guitar by her father in 2017, and released ‘Coffee’, her first song, shortly after. Minimalist and cutesy, the track speeds up and slows down at Bea’s will. The tripping-over-its-own-shoelaces melody is offset by Bea’s lyrical gravitas, and before the singer-songwriter (then 17) knew it, she had a viral hit. Now, with her debut album complete, it’s possible to work through her catalogue chronologically and observe Bea’s musical progression in real-time.
Her debut album, Fake It Flowers, beautifully marries her idiosyncrasies to her obsession with ‘90s grunge rock.
“The one sound that really inspired this album was Veruca Salt, because I was listening to ‘Eight Arms To Hold You’ constantly,” she says. “I came into my career without expectations, or thinking that this would ever happen to me. Going into the industry, I had no idea what a lot of things were. That lack of understanding has helped me separate myself from everything that’s happened.
“I was never a music nerd growing up. I still want to be a nursery teacher. I enjoy making music for now, but mostly, I just don’t know what’s going on! I was speaking to my boyfriend’s Mum about it, and I said, ‘I feel like I’m not a hundred percent satisfied with who I am, and I think I still need to figure out certain things about myself’. I’ve always had a passion for teaching, especially young kids.
“I’ve always wanted to inspire them, and at the moment, I feel like I’m doing that in some way with people who are listening to my music. I get satisfaction from knowing people relate to and are helped by my songs. I do want to make music for as long as I can, but I also want to teach.”
In signing with Dirty Hit (back in 2018), Bea feels like she’s been given a licence to do both things.
“Honestly, I’ve just been given the freedom to be myself without changing. I’ve been wearing what I want, making the videos I want, exactly the way I want them to look.”
It’s a common thread with female artists on Dirty Hit. Rina Sawayama told me the same thing.
“Rina is so badass,” Bea enthuses. “Her album is so good.”
Might the two artists collaborate?
“I would never say no to that,” Bea laughs. “I really look up to her, especially as an Asian woman. It’s great that we’re in this scene, representing ethnic minorities. Even though we make quite different music, I feel like it’s still for the same purpose. I really respect her.”
• Fake It Flowers is out now.