beabadoobee says her next album sounds like 2006—interview
beabadoobee has built a career and dedicated fanbase through her artistic transparency and humble nature. Despite amassing billions of streams and selling out tours across the globe, the U.K.-based artist has never let success get to her head. For beabadoobee, she writes music as a form of therapy. Music has always been the coping mechanism she needed throughout so much of her life, from her childhood to her newfound status as a critically acclaimed superstar in alternative music. First and foremost, beabadoobee will tell you that she doesn’t feel any different than those who listen to her music. However, she’s also aware of the importance of keeping her material and presence as relatable as possible while her fame continues to grow.
After releasing several fan-favorite EPs, beabadoobee began to show her strength as a songwriter with 2019 release Space Cadet, which could be seen as one part Liz Phair, one part Mazzy Star. Even elements of Nirvana and Pixies made their way into her signature sound. For such a young artist, it’s remarkable to see the influences that comprise her artistic palette, but what makes her music even more compelling is her ability to draw the line between ’90s nostalgia and modern Gen-Z anthems.
Then another unexpected event occurred: The first song she ever wrote, “Coffee,” became an overnight sensation on TikTok after it was sampled by Canadian artist Powfu. Though she was happy about reaching a broader audience, the artist was admittedly eager to show the world stronger and more refined material in the form of a proper full-length to prove that she was here to stay.
For the release of her debut full-length, Fake It Flowers, beabadoobee again linked up with the influential British record label Dirty Hit. However, the record arrived while the pandemic was still raging across the globe. It’s only now that she’s feeling the material and physical rewards of her hard work as she’s finally able to tour and engage with the world again.
In addition to being labelmates and close friends with British superstars the 1975, they became even closer in 2021. Together, they hunkered down in a secluded location in the English countryside to pen a short but diverse collection of songs titled Our Extended Play. To date, one could argue that this release is her most left-field in that she was beginning to experiment even further with sonics. The result is a bridge between her past, present and future.
As an artist, beabadoobee is still discovering what her sound is by diving deeper into her musical roots and influences to develop the truest representation. With her upcoming record, due to drop sometime in 2022, she’s confident that it will be her most authentic release to date and will surely venture into uncharted territory sonically.
At the tail end of 2020, you released your critically acclaimed debut album, Fake It Flowers. While it was an enormous success in terms of units and streams, the world was still largely at a standstill due to the pandemic. How did you have to adapt as an artist and performer during this time to keep the momentum rising and redirect your expectations?
It was overwhelming because it was hard to really appreciate everything when you can’t physically see it or feel it. Shows weren’t happening, and tours were canceled, but it was almost a blessing in disguise because it took away the stressfulness around it and allowed me to focus on the creative aspects, the music and just my passion for the record in general. I didn’t really expect the record to do that well. It came across as a huge shock. I’m obviously so grateful and appreciative, but I don’t think it fully hit me yet. I haven’t fathomed how well it actually did since I didn’t get to feel it physically or live in it, as I was mostly separated from everything. I was more so focused on how I felt about the record as opposed to how other people felt towards it.
With the creation of Our Extended Play, it was a different experience, with you going to a secluded destination to write the material as opposed to writing in your bedroom. In addition, you collaborated with Matty Healy and George Daniel from the 1975 for the writing and recording. How did this change in process inform you as a songwriter, and do you plan to continue this new process of collaboration?
Definitely. I have been currently writing a record with my guitarist Jacob [Bugden], and it’s one of my favorite things I have done so far. It has opened a whole new world of being collaborative with people who I am passionate about. Matty and George are big inspirations to me, and it was a really fun experience because we’re all just mates at the end of the day. It didn’t feel intense or serious. It just felt like we were creating something that we wanted to create.
With you being so open lyrically, have there been any experiences within this last year that have been learning experiences that you feel you want to cover more with your next release?
Because of COVID, it gave me time to be in my own thoughts. With the new record, I really explore that and talk about that more. I’m still going to keep the transparency with my lyrics. That’s never going to change because I need to write music to be OK. It’s really therapeutic for me.
You are very candid about your experiences in your childhood — dealing with feelings of isolation and not fitting in at a Catholic school. What do you hope to give to the next generation of your fans who might be going through a similar experience?
Everything is a learning experience, and you should never regret any decisions you made because making mistakes is all a part of growing up. Your experiences build you as a person. I feel like at the end of the day, I am just like anyone else who is listening to my music. I’m still just a 21-year-old girl living in London, and I have the same problems as any other girl, so I want to stay as relatable as possible.
In addition to your incredible professional milestones, whether that be two successful releases, sold-out tours and critical acclaim, are there any personal achievements that you are proud of within this last year?
Obviously, creating Fake It Flowers was a big milestone for me. I also bought a house, and that was really fun. [Laughs.] I slowly began to find my independence and became comfortable with who I am. With people continuing to support me, it has really helped me become sure of myself and the music I create.
Your popularity in the U.S. grew exponentially during the lockdown. Now you are on a largely sold-out headline tour across the States, your first time being here in two years. It must have been interesting to engage with these new fans as opposed to the ones back home in the U.K. Did you gain any new insights from the experience of connecting with your U.S. audience?
It was definitely a really interesting experience. I didn’t know what to expect in the U.S. In England, I know people will know my songs. London is my home, but I didn’t expect people to know the words to my songs in the U.S. My first show back was in Washington, and the kids went crazy. I remember being backstage expecting the kids here to not go as crazy as my fans in the U.K., but they went crazy, and it was amazing. The kids have been so lovely, cool and so chill. It’s been a really cool experience here in America.
You have mentioned before that Our Extended Play is somewhat of a bridge between your debut full-length and your upcoming sophomore record. What are you hoping to explore sonically with this next release?
It’s a lot of different vibes. There’s not one song that sounds the same as the others. I’ve been really getting into a band called Stars, and I’ve always loved Stereolab as well. I’ve been working with my guitarist Jacob and using a lot of teenage engineering, drum machines, mixtures of guitars. It’s been really fun. I don’t know how to explain it, but it sounds very 2006. [Laughs.] I feel like this new album is what I am meant to sound like.
This interview first appeared in issue #401 (the AP Yearbook), available here.