Bea Kristi is still getting used to all of this attention. Known by her stage name, Beabadoobee, the 20-year-old musician thought that her mom and friends would be her only listeners when she first started making music a few years ago. That’s certainly not the case now, with a viral TikTok song under her belt and a critically acclaimed debut album, Fake It Flowers, in the books.
“It’s really overwhelming,” she tells BAZAAR.com over Zoom from her West London home. Don’t get her wrong; she appreciated the anticipation to her album and how her music has touched listeners, but she’s “getting used to [people] caring.”
How could they not care about music like hers, though? Beabadoobee’s grungy, ’90s and ’00s-inspired repertoire isn’t just worth noticing, it’s worth celebrating. Her tender lyrics range from relatable to simply devastating, sung nonchalantly over fuzzy guitar chords. She brings to mind the mellow, bedroom appeal of Clairo and the Y2K nostalgia of Soccer Mommy and Snail Mail. Anyone who’s scrolled through TikTok has probably heard her 2017 song “Coffee”—the first song she wrote on her guitar—sampled by Powfu for a sped-up, high-pitched remix that soundtracks everything from makeup tutorials to dog videos. But this fluttery rendition is a far cry from the raw, angsty sonics of her EPs like Loveworm and Space Cadet, let alone of the mastery of Fake It Flowers.
It will come as no surprise that Beabadoobee, who was born in the Philippines but was raised in London, grew up listening to ’90s rock icons. Suzanne Vega, Alanis Morissette, and Veruca Salt were on rotation, thanks to her mom, a nurse with great music taste. Kimya Dawson of The Moldy Peaches and Elliott Smith were songwriting inspirations, as were Pavement and Smashing Pumpkins (one of her obsessions at age 14). She revisited a lot of the music from her childhood for this album. “I just love that feeling of nostalgia. It’s like a warm blanket.”
Beabadoobee’s love for the ’90s is also evident in her wardrobe, which often includes belted cargo pants, platform boots, and baby tees. On our video call, she layers an oversized blazer over an even more oversized sweatshirt, the sleeves so long they cover her fingers. Her jewelry is layered, too—a gothic mix of necklaces and chokers. Dangling earrings peek out from her bedhead, bleach-blonde hair. I am not shocked when she admits her favorite movie is The Craft (fashion, soundtrack, and all). “That movie made me, bro,” she says in a Nancy Downs-approved smoky eye.
Making and releasing Fake It Flowers was “way more intense” than her past EPs. “It feels like I’m about to give birth,” Beabdoobee tells us a week before the album release. But at the time, she wasn’t feeling any pressure. “I just feel like I want to sleep,” she laughs. She’s also eager to get writing and put her energy into something new. “I want to make the next thing already.” But in the meantime, she sat down withBAZAAR to talk music.
How did Fake It Flowers start for you?
Well, I remember I wrote Space Cadet thinking I knew myself and that I was going to have blue hair for the rest of my life. And then, I went on tour and realized I didn’t know myself at all and experienced a lot of stuff and grew up a bit. I started therapy again, and it made me realize a lot of things, and I just had enough to write about. I wanted to write. I wrote Fake It Flowers and that’s what inspired it lyrically. I think sonically, it was just this rabbit hole of finding music and rediscovering all the artists my mom used to play.
Who are some of those artists?
My mom used to play a lot of Alanis Morissette, a lot of The Sundays, lots of Cranberries and Susanna Vega. And then, I started listening to them again and again went into this massive rabbit hole, then started listening to Veruca Salt, and just these amazing women from that time, like Juliana Hatfield and Liz Phair. I remember her playing The Cardigans a lot as well.
Where did the title come from?
Actually, it was a strange one. Every time I had an idea in my head or a nice chord progression or a melody line, I recorded on Voice Notes. Voice Notes does this thing where it will automatically save as the location you’re in. It would automatically save it as Fake It Flowers. I’d do it in my rehearsal place, but then it’s weird, because I would change location and go back to my own home, which is the complete opposite end of my rehearsal place. It would still save it as Fake It Flowers, and there was nothing called Fake It Flowers around the area, but there was a little flower shop near my rehearsal place called Fake It Flowers. I just thought it was a really cute name—rolls off the tongue nice.
How long were you working on the album? Was it something that you realized you wanted to start doing, and then you created all these songs for this project? Or did you take other compositions that you might’ve made earlier and tie everything together?
It was a mixture. I think there were two songs on Fake It Flowers that I’d written prior, I mean, one song that was meant for Loveworm, one song that was meant for Space Cadet. Most of the songs I’d written started during tour and finished in my bedroom. Every song was finished in my bedroom, really. I guess it was during a period, and recording it took about two, three months.
What would you like listeners or new fans to take away from the album?
I wear my heart on my sleeve in this record. I wrote it for my 15-year-old self. I don’t know. I’ve always wanted a record to make people dance, to make people feel happy. When I’m sad, I do this thing where I dance in front of my mirror in my pants and put on a Veruca Salt record and just go crazy. I want Fake It Flowers to be an album for a girl like me, or anyone really. It’s okay to be loud. It’s okay to be annoying. It’s okay to whine about your problems, because I did on this record, and I don’t give a fuck. [Laughs.]
I just want girls, especially girls, to feel empowered when they listen to it. I mean, the whole theme across Fake It Flowers is everything I was supposed to tell someone but never did. It’s all really honest and personal lyrics, and hopefully, it can relate to some people out there.
It’s okay to be loud. It’s okay to be annoying. It’s okay to whine about your problems, because I did on this record, and I don’t give a fuck.
I feel like you can see all that emotion come out in the lyrics, especially with songs like “Care” and “Worth It,” which I personally love. Where did those songs come from?
“Care,” I think, was probably after a therapy session. It was me thinking about how my past experiences as a child have affected me as a young woman today and how that affects the way I treat situations and react to them. And “Worth It” was actually about a specific time in my life. I don’t think I regret it, but I think I’ve learned from it. They’re really two honest personal songs.
Was there a certain song that felt the most challenging or made you feel the most vulnerable when you were writing it?
“Emo Song” and “Sorry,” those two songs. I don’t know if I can sing “Emo Song” live really, because it just hits home a bit too hard. But “Sorry” was a hard one to sing. I think it’s the song I’m most proud of off Fake It Flowers.
Your album ends on a really strong note with “Yoshimi, Forest, Magdalene.”
I just thought it was really funny, kind of dumb, and it ended it with a happy note. That’s what I want to call my kids and why I want to call them Yoshimi, Forest, Magdalene.
Yoshimi, because of The Flaming Lips album. Forest, because of Forrest Gump, because I love Tom Hanks. And Magdalene because the Pixies song, “Magdalena,” and this really cool girl at my school called Magda.
When did you notice that people were starting to pay attention to “Coffee” and that it was making rounds on TikTok and social media?
I think people were talking about it, and there was all this attention that I never really expected I’d ever have in my life. At first, it was really overwhelming and I was just distancing myself from it, which I am. At first, it was really daunting, but you just grow to love it and be super appreciative of its existence and all the opportunities that song has given me, despite it sounding so different to my music. I think Powfu is a talented guy, and he’s really made that song his own.
Who did you expect to be listening to your music at first, when you weren’t expecting to have such a huge audience?
I just thought my friends would like it, and my mom. That’s honestly who I thought would listen to my music at first. That’s the only people I thought would listen to it, but then people gave a fuck, and it’s cool. I write for girls who are like me.
After realizing that more people are paying attention, did that change who you wrote for, what kind of music you wrote?
Not really. I think there are more eyes on me, and there’s this perception of how I should behave. But you know what? I’m still going to be myself. I’m still going to write the music I want to write. If my mom likes my album, then I’m pretty good.
Do you run a lot of ideas by your mom when you’re writing?
I show her my songs. Every time I finish writing them in my room, I probably go downstairs and show it to her. But she introduced me to loads of bands when I was younger, or had so much amazing music playing in the background of my childhood. I remember her showing me a Nirvana music video when I was seven, and I remember being terrified, and her showing me “Luka” by Suzanne Vega, which is a song about child abuse. I remember being so touched by it, and just always constantly watching it, being obsessed with Suzanne Vega. My mom’s a cool mom. She’s badass.
When did this whole music journey start for you?
I got kicked out of school, and my dad had bought me a guitar. I was 17, and I started writing music and realized how much it helped me mentally. I was like, “Fuck, this is sick.” It’s nice to put my feelings down on paper. It’s when I got really passionate.
As you’ve pursued music, what’s been the biggest challenge you’ve overcome?
I think it was just being away from home for tour so much and being away from my friends and being away from my boyfriend and people I loved. And then learning how to be by myself and be comfortable being by myself. That was a struggle. And also, just the fast pace of it all, just how fast it happened. It’s been daunting. It’s honestly the coolest thing, and I think I’m still learning. I’m still glad I’ve had this time at home.
What’s been the biggest pinch-me moment so far?
Just something as simple as playing a show and people actually caring and people singing the lyrics back, and actually giving a fuck about me. I’m not used to that. It’s such a weird feeling, people singing back your songs, and I miss it so much.
Who is your dream collaborator?
Man, there’s so many. I’m obsessed with Alex G.
Have any other artists or celebrities reached out to you or DMed you just to praise your work and left you starstruck a little bit?
Taylor Swift liked my music, and just people even knowing who I am is crazy.
Taylor Swift reached out to you?
Yeah, she came up to me at the NME Awards. She said, “I love your music. No skips.” I was like, “What the fuck?!”
How will you know if you’ve “made it”?
When I become a nursery teacher and am still able to make music, even soundtrack films maybe, and have really cute kids.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
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