bea isn't in a hurry to get famous

Her name is buzzing through the music world and record labels are lining up to sign her, but BEA is patiently awaiting the right moment. We talked to the future pop icon about anonymity and artistic patience.

by Sander van Dalsum
06 May 2015, 4:10pm

In the 21st century, it's not every day that an artist creates a buzz without any social media effort. With her experimental and romantic pop music and her no-media profile, Dutch singer/songwriter BEA proves that you can still become a star without being thirsty. The Amsterdam-born singer has only released one EP so far, but the record labels are already lining up to sign her. The promising talent has given only a few interviews, so we're pretty psyched we got the chance to talk to the future pop icon about anonymity and artistic patience.

Hi BEA! You don't do a lot of interviews, but we finally got a hold on you…
No, I don't like to talk about myself that much. I find it more interesting to just do something and see how people react. To trigger something instead of telling people what they should think of it.

There are a lot of musicians who just want to be famous as soon as possible. I feel like you just don't really care about fame.
Well, I think fame is a relative thing. There is this sort of stigma surrounding the word, because it has a lot to do with vanity and getting attention for things that are superficial. At the same time, it also means getting recognition for the things you do. But if fame means talking about yourself a lot, then no, I'm not interested. I just don't feel that with something like an interview I can tell a lot more than I'm doing with my music already.

One song got you all this attention. How do you handle that?
Yes, but the attention already faded away a bit you know, which illustrates just how that works. My first single was critically acclaimed, and ended up in The Guardian. But I think it's a bit like designer clothes, a hip restaurant or whatever: in the end we're all sensitive to status - me too. If you see it all happening, you're like "oh wow, it's all going quite well," you know? It's still really cool, so sometimes I try to keep myself from making it smaller than it is.

Are you more self-conscious because of the early recognition?
Absolutely! But also I learned a lot because of everything that happened last year. I released Good Thinking within a certain structure because of the people I was working with at the time. Back then I thought that was fine, but now I know I'm not into this "EP" format. Next time, I want to do things differently. I just want there to be as little time as possible between the moment a song is ready and the moment that song is going online. That feels really honest to me; this way I can be really productive because I know the music will get a place right away.

But this way we'll never get an LP from you!
Haha, there will be an LP, in good time. I'm quite fickle in that sense. Also I already made so much music that I'm absolutely sure an album is possible as well. I won't say too much though, in case it spoils the magic. All I can say is that something is coming up that will show all the work I've been doing. 

What did you do before BEA?
I was born and raised in Amsterdam. When I was a little younger I worked with DJs a lot. Back then I found it interesting to just make myself available as a vocalist. I would drop by the studio and write some lyrics on a song that was there and ready for me. I was quite subservient back then, but ever since I started working with Tim (Benny Sings), I really learned I want to be a songwriter.

Besides Benny Sings you also worked with Dev Hynes of Blood Orange. Will we be hearing anything from that collaboration?
The only thing I can say is that we met, and that writing and recording together was really fun. He really has his own sound and it was great to see how it all came together. To give you an impression: I never sang anyone else's lyrics for them, but for him I did. Also I wrote some lyrics he sang, something he hadn't done before either.

Dropping something like that could bring you the 'fame' we talked about before...
Yeah, but at the same time I just feel like knowing him is already a huge addition to my musical inspiration. Even if we don't release it, I still think it's really cool I met him. I'm not going to force it. The best thing about collaborations like this is that you'll immediately hear how much fun the people had recording it, and that it wasn't done just because it was convenient.

In your latest EP there were a lot of influences from the 90s British music scene. Your parents are from England, is that a coincidence?
Probably? I think that a lot of my influences came from home because there was always music playing. My mom used to listen to a sort of agricultural deep house, trippy stuff. I don't know whether the 90s trip-hop feeling in my music comes from that, but I'm sure home had its influence on me. I used to do a lot of aerial acrobatics and listened to Cirque du Soleil to serve as my own performing soundtrack. Some seeds must have been planted there, too. But in the end, I'm just not too good at naming different genres. I was talking to this 70-year-old lady the other day. She said "oh, you're a singer! How fun! Are you in classic or modern music?" And I really didn't know how to answer her. For me, there actually isn't a distinct boundary between the two. Actually I don't know that much about music at all, but I know what I like.

Would you like to make a living from making music?
Yes, but right now I think I'm just too stubborn. You never know, though, maybe at the end of the year I'm signed with a label and I'll be able to do more. I'm limited now because of different jobs that I have - my life is quite hectic because of that. A lot of labels have approached me and I researched some of these people, a few of which I'm very flattered that they're talking to me. I just think I need to have more music first.


Text Sander van Dalsum
Photography Violette Esmeralda for Eric Elenbaas Agency

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