Photo by Jordan Curtis Hughes.

how beabadoobee went from bedroom artist to indie rock wunderkind

On her new EP ‘Space Cadet’ the 19-year old musician takes us on a journey through her sonic solar system.

by Nicole DeMarco
|
Oct 18 2019, 4:08pm

Photo by Jordan Curtis Hughes.

On her new EP, Space Cadet, Bea Kristi is singing on the moon. Well, not quite literally. But the 19-year-old blue-haired musician better known as Beabadoobee takes us on a journey through her sonic solar system, replete with roaring guitars and big drums. The EP (which was released on October 14) is the artist’s fourth in two years and contains some of Bea’s most expansive work yet — though with a full length already in the works, she’s moving right along. The new “full on, super hyped songs” pay tribute to 90s indie rock stars like Kim Gordon and Stephen Malkmus, who guide Beabadoobee on her interstellar mission.

“It’s basically the music I’ve always wanted to make. All of my inspiration, who I am as a person, and who I aspire to be really influenced this EP,” Bea says over the phone, as she’s getting ready for her first US tour with Clairo. “I just let myself go and wanted every song to be a song that people can jump to.”

It’s all quite impressive given that the Filipino-British artist only started playing guitar about two years ago. Bea took violin lessons for seven years and wrote simple songs in school, but never imagined a musical career — let alone even singing her own songs herself — until her dad brought home a second hand guitar one day to cheer her up. Bea couldn’t put it down. Aged 17, the first song she learned was “Kiss Me” by Sixpence None the Richer and not long after, it inspired her to write “Coffee” with a similar chord progression.

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Photo by Jordan Curtis Hughes.

“Honestly, I was kind of bored. I didn’t know what to do with my life and I had so much feeling. I didn’t know how to express it any other way except expressing it through music,” Bea explains. “I was really stressed about what I wanted to be, what I wanted to do… Music was the only thing that was really fun doing.”

In addition to being a teenager trying to find her way in the world, Bea had been kicked out of her Catholic school and had a lot of time on her hands. She began uploading her tracks online under her finsta name, Beabadoobee, and never expected much to come of it: “I was like, ‘No one gives a shit, I’ll just call it some random name...’ I never really saw it picking up or saw people liking my music.”

Naturally, the intimate acoustic track “Coffee” went viral on YouTube almost overnight and her hazy, hushed vocals earned her mention as one to watch among bedroom pop artists. “I never thought that was going to happen,” she says. “And then, it just did. People started to like [my music] and I started to fall in love with it even more.”

Though she still makes music in her West London room, which is lovingly covered in photos of a young Tom Hanks, she quickly outgrew the bedroom pop genre to become the next indie rock wunderkind. Beabadoobee was signed to Dirty Hit, home to The 1975 and The Japanese House, and she released her first two EPs Lice and Patched Up in 2018. Not to mention a cover of “The Moon Song” by Karen O. Beabadoobee’s earlier releases are largely inspired by Elliot Smith, The Moldy Peaches, and Daniel Johnston, but for her third EP Loveworm (2019) Bea took it to the next level by adding a full band with bassist Eliana Sewell and Louis Semlekan-Faith on drums.

“It happened quickly, but then within the quickness of it all I released a lot of music...It still feels really overwhelming. I just finished school and stuff,” Bea says, having only completed exams at her new school last June. “When I got into the studio and could record everything properly and got a band, that’s when it all became exciting. It feels so cool. It just feels like a dream.”

When we meet for ice cream just days before her debut New York show, the fact that she’s touring the country hadn’t even set in yet. “I haven’t prepared myself for any of this. I just write a shit ton of songs. I would have never thought that I’d be doing gigs or going on tour,” Bea says later. “Now it just seems so real and now I’m in America!”

Though Bea is particularly worried that her American fans won’t know how to mosh. “I think Londoners have some crackhead energy when they mosh,” she says, laughing. “They want to throw themselves across the pit.” However, the raucous crowd at Chelsea Music Hall on September 27 proves themselves, singing Bea’s lyrics right back at her. Perhaps most notably when she launches into “She Plays Bass” and “I wish I Was Stephen Malkmus,” two standout songs on Space Cadet.

“A space cadet basically means an individual who’s just very weird and strange…,” Bea says, explaining the EP’s title. “I feel like a space cadet sometimes. I think everyone does. It’s okay to feel out of place. It’s never a bad thing. I always have to tell myself that.”

Otherworldly references occur both literally and figuratively on Space Cadet, in her lyrics and arrangements, centering the universe as Bea’s main source of inspiration. “I was always curious about it. I wanted to find out more,” she says. “It’s just vast. It’s massive. You have no idea what’s in it! It’s so terrifying.”

Though it’s much more than that. Through these songs Bea is trying to make sense of her own journey, which has been quite unpredictable, all the while fearlessly hurtling forward through space. She tackles her anxieties, her fears, and feelings of being misunderstood head on. “Writing this EP helped me with my anxiety a lot and it helped me explore myself as a musician, with different instruments, different sounds,” Bea says. “I hope it helps people with theirs too.”

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Photo by Jordan Curtis Hughes.

On “Are You Sure,” Bea explores her own mind, her way of thinking, and ruminates on the fact that sometimes not everyone gets it. And that’s perfectly fine. “I wrote ‘Are You Sure’ with a lot of anger, but I think it’s my favorite song. It sounds lyrically sad and angry, but it’s very cool,” Bea says. “We tripled the guitars and it sounds huge. With the chords and production, I wanted it to sway from what you expected into a completely different route for just a second, like ‘Oh that’s a bit strange,’ then you get back.”

Though it’s the title track that is without a doubt the “most space-y one” of all, boasting a playful melody and a guitar part that “sounds kind of like a spaceship going in and out in the background.” Chronologically, the song was written first and the lyrics are a bit nonsensical at times, as Bea sings of “extraterrestrial beings” and “a candy floss made spacecraft.” But most importantly, a place where she can escape: “through the Milky Way/ past the morning sun/ Pluto is lightyears away/ and all our worries they’re all gone.”