2019 has been an incredible year for Beabadoobee. Having been nominated for the Brit’s Critics Choice Award, featured in the BBC’s Sound of 2020 list, as well as touring across the US things are currently looking promising for the London based singer/songwriter.
National Rock Review recently caught up with Beabadoobee backstage at Think Tank in Newcastle whilst on the Dirty Hit tour to talk about her recent US tour, recording at Abbey Road, meeting Stephen Malkmus as well as her forthcoming arena run with The 1975.
You’re out on the road with the Dirty Hit tour at the minute. You’ve only got a few days left of this run. How has the tour been going for you so far?
It’s been good. It’s great being surrounded by people that do the same thing that you do. You are part of the same label. Everyone believes in the same thing, it’s such a family type of atmosphere. You learn a lot from people being with them so much. Everything has been amazing. The crowd and the shows have been great, so It’s been a good tour.
It seems like this year has been a bit of a whirlwind for you. You’ve been out in the US where you’ve been doing shows with Clara. You had your first headline show in the US. What was it like playing in the States? Did you get a great reception out there?
Yeah, I remember the New York show was really good. The fans are amazing. And there’s a different energy in the UK, they just go crazy. I love it though, it reminds me this place is home. But other than that it has been pretty intense for the last few months ago. I finished school this year, and I’ve kind of just been thrown into everything. But yeah, it’s been exciting, overwhelming, but I’m very grateful.
Besides the US, in the last few weeks, you’ve been nominated for the Brit’s Critics Choice Award and also included in the BBC Sound of 2020 long list. It must feel pretty amazing to be in the running for such prestigious accolades? How do you feel about all of that?
I guess I never take it into account. Obviously, I’m super overwhelmed and grateful about it, but I never really think about it. It’s just another thing that’s happening in my career, but I would never let that overtake me. I’m still incredibly grateful for what’s happening with me and I’ve no idea why it’s happening to me. But you know I’m just here for the music that I write, and I’m going to keep on writing and if more stuff comes up, more stuff comes up – I’m not too fussed.
There’s so much buzz around at the moment and a lot of hype. Are you trying to keep your feet on the ground so to speak and just not let it get to you too much?
I guess it’s quite easy for me because I am very self-depreciative of my music and about me as a person. I was never wanting to be a musician, I saw this as a side thing – I still really want to be a nursery teacher. I’m going to try my best at this because writing for me is kind of like breathing, Writing helps me organize the stuff in my brain. It’s more of a therapeutic thing, more so than writing to release music for everyone. I write for myself, for my mental health. So I’m just going to keep on doing that and save up lots of money, and teach kids and shit.
You’re going to be going out on the road with The 1975 where you will be playing arenas. How do you feel about that tour?
Yeah, I am so excited. I can’t wait to watch them every night because I’m a fan of their music and I’m excited to just learn from that experience. Knowing how to perform on a stage like that in front of so many people. I’m so terrified, but I’m trying to not think about that because I keep saying to everyone who asked me how do you feel about that? If I can get on that stage at The O2 in front of all of those people and even utter a word, I can do anything.
I know that you recently released the track I Wish I Was Stephen Malkmus, which is on your Space Cadet EP. I saw on your Instagram that you got to meet him recently. Did you get the chance to talk to him about that song?
Oh, hell yeah. This whole thing was like, he said he was coming and we didn’t hear from him until just before we were about to go on stage. So I completely forgot. Then my manager’s like, Oh there is someone here. So I thought it was some radio person. And I see the back of his head with his two kids and I’m just like, that’s him isn’t it? And he goes in for a handshake and I just leap on him and just like hug him. And then he goes onto the tour bus and we started talking. He was telling me all these stories and we were sharing our inspirations with artists. He knows Kim Gordon and I’m a massive Kim Gordon fan. I give him a little speech onstage. This song is dedicated to a man called Stephen Malkmus – this one is for you brother. It was really cool. I thought he was going to get weirded out by it, but he was super chilled out and he was really nice.
I read a post that you put on Instagram which said ‘It’s really cool that girls on guitars are finally going to get noticed, and one day we are going to rule the world’. Do you hope that your success influences female artists or aspiring musicians?
Basically, I didn’t have a female artist that looked like me on stage. Because I’m an ethnic minority – I’ve always wanted that and I kind of want to be that for kids, because I’ve always craved to look up to someone who looked like me on stage and I want to be that for girls like me when I was 15. And I think it’s sick – girls with guitars rule. My bassist, she’s a female, she’s fucking cool as fuck. So yeah, girls rule.
So is that where She Plays Bass comes from?
Yeah, we are really good friends, I care about her a lot. It’s basically just a whole thing of hyping up badass women who get to go onstage and just rock out? We live in a very male dominant society, especially in the music industry. As an ethnic minority, I want to show that I’m no stereotype.
Is it true that you picked up your first second-hand guitar when you were 17?
Yes, 17 going on 18.
So at that point, had you even dabbled in guitar?
I think to be fair I played the violin for about seven years. So I think I was used to having string instruments. I have a very strict mother growing up with playing the violin, so when you play the violin you have – they call it a waterfall. So when I play the guitar, I just automatically do that with the neck and that’s not how you are supposed to play. I mean, that’s how you are supposed to play when you riff, but I don’t know how to do that. But yeah, it’s just really strange. So I obviously got what I learnt from violin somehow and did it on the guitar. I think the experience of playing instruments helped that.
And you’ve named your guitars as well?
Oh yeah all of them. That first-ever guitar I wrote Coffee on, that was second hand, I named it after my counsellor I had at the time called Liz. And then there’s Manny the guitar that Jamie got me. It’s really old, but then really cool. It’s still going, but it’s super old and it’s named after Manny Pacquiao, because he’s a Filipino boxer, he’s old but still going. And then there’s Aubrey, my Guild. And then there is Bea Jr my pink Strat and I call it a Bea Jr because it’s really cheap and really shit, but then it looks cool as fuck. Oh yeah, there’s loads. There’s ketchup – ketchup’s cute. It used to be called Satan’s Sauce, but I was like, that’s kind of intense. It’s a red acoustic guitar, it’s not even electric, it’s an acoustic guitar. I was like Satan’s Sauce – I will call it Ketchup.
As part of your Spotify singles, you covered Simple Minds. I just wondered what made you choose that song in particular to cover?
It was between loads. So I wanted to do a very 80s song and I would just grunge it up. And I grew up with those movies because my mom used to show me The Breakfast Club, St Elmo’s Fire, Pretty in Pink, Some Kind of Wonderful – all of those 80s movies, I grew up on that. And those songs in those movies resonate with me so much because they soundtracked those films. And every time you listen to a song like that you just think about the scene that you watched. And I kind of want to do that with my music. So I chose that song because I thought it’d be cool to kind of change up.
You recorded that song at Abbey Road, which is such a historic studio. You must just feel the history oozing out of the walls in a place like that.
Basically, I did Kumon just a road down Abbey Road. So I did Kumon basically for about five years straight. And I used to get my dad to walk me by each time I had Kumon every week. Can we please go to Abbey Road, just so I can see it? Because I was obsessed with The Beatles and he’d take me and I would just stand in front. I wouldn’t even cross the road, I would just stand and imagine being inside. And the first time I went in for that session, I walked in and just had a straight panic attack because this is like a dream come true. So yeah, it was insane.
Do you know what’s on the cards for 2020?
I’m currently writing an album, so that will hopefully be released. I want to take my time on it and make sure I have all the sounds I kind of want to create. I’m going to be in America lots. And basically shows, videos and music – just lots of that. Just constantly I want to keep myself busy.