“I just write music to kind of take stuff away from my brain.”
She may have only just finished school, but Beabadoobee is on her first world tour, supporting fellow Gen Z star Clairo across the States before heading over to the UK for a string of shows with her label, Dirty Hit. With her ever-changing hair colour, grunge aesthetic and affinity for the 90s, the 19-year-old (real name Bea Kristi) has carved out her own brand of bedroom pop on her most recent EP, Space Cadet.
“I love Pavement and Sonic Youth, that’s kind of what I listened to a lot,” Bea says, as she discusses her early influences over the phone from Washington. “Growing up, it was a lot of The Cranberries, Suzanne Vega – who’s incredible – and a lot of my mum’s music that she used to show me. And Keane. I grew up on Keane and Maroon Five’s first album, Songs About Jane,” she giggles while radiating a kind of slacker coolness reminiscent of her heroes.
Echoes of these can be heard in her uncomplicated, soothingly melodic chord structures, which glide between folk and punk influences. Therefore it comes as little surprise that she notes Green Day’s Dookie as the first CD she ever bought. “I still bang out that album to this day,” she says. “It’s just crazy, the chords are so powerful, and that’s so sick. I guess I get inspired by that album a lot because all of mine are super simple, but you know, Billie Joe just finds an amazing way to carry it.”
However, what really makes Bea’s music particularly gripping is her honest lyricism. Touching on themes of depression, anxiety and insomnia, it’s relatable, not just to Gen Z, but to anyone who has experienced those feelings. The response to this is why she chose to pursue music as a career. “Seeing so many people relating to the things I say motivated me so much,” she says. “I just write music to kind of take stuff away from my brain.”
Particular moments of poignancy within her third EP, Space Cadet, derive from this candidness. One example being ‘Sun More Often’ with lines like, “In your head / You’re scared / So just sing along / To the song / In your head.” Bea points out this track as embodying what she hopes to achieve within her music. “It’s sentimental, because it pulls heartstrings, but you can rock out to it,” she explains. “I wrote it when I was really sad and I was telling myself to go see the fucking sun more often, because I was depressed all the time.”
Nevertheless, there are flashes of defiance within the five-track collection. The song ‘I Wish I Was Stephen Malkmus,’ is a direct homage to one of her heroes, which champions owning your uniqueness. It was meeting the Pavement frontman at one of her shows (his children happen to be fans) that Bea recognises as a highlight of the past year. “He pulled out his hand and I just went in for a hug. I was like, ‘oh my god, you’re amazing, I love your music,’” she chuckles.
“It’s sentimental, because it pulls heartstrings, but you can rock out to it.”
This has not been the only encounter Bea has had with an idol, as she’s found a somewhat unlikely kinship with labelmate Matty Healy. Ever since they bonded over feeling ‘out of place’ at the London Fashion Awards, they now regularly hang out together, and she even steals his clothes. The best piece of advice he’s given her? “I literally have so many text messages,” she ponders. “But one time he told me to just always make music for myself and not for other people.”
Having released what she refers to as her ‘favourite songs ever’ and embarked on a global tour moments after completing her A-Levels, Bea shows very few signs of slowing down. “I’m currently writing an album and I’m obviously going to be touring a lot,” she says. “I can’t say much, but basically new music and more shit is coming.”
Beabadoobee is one of In Stereo’s ‘New Sounds’ artists to watch for 2020.
LISTEN TO: I WISH I WAS STEPHEN MALKMUS
See the video for ‘I Wish I Was Stephen Malkmus’ here: