Listening to 19-year-old Filipina-British singer-songwriter Bea Kristi, a.k.a. Beabadoobee, is like curling up in your favorite oversized band hoodie, binge-watching My So-Called Life, and airing out your latest existential musings in your diary: it’s warm and fuzzy, deeply nostalgic, and ultra-cathartic, all at once.
The London musician signed to Dirty Hit Records (The 1975, Pale Waves) first drew attention with her independent 2017 debut single “Coffee,” a dreamy little acoustic ballad strummed on Bea’s guitar (which she learned to play that very same year) and uploaded to her YouTube channel on a whim. It went viral, and what followed — a string of songs and EPs (2018’s Lice and Patched Up, 2019’s Loveworm) marked by Bea’s ‘90s alt-rock love letter sound, soulbearing lyrics about growing up, and sugar-sweet vocal delivery — captured the hearts of teen listeners searching for an introspective Gen-Z voice they could relate to.
Bea’s latest EP, the aptly-titled Space Cadet (released October 14), finds the artist leaning heavily into the frustration of being misunderstood and the awkward uncertainty of inching closer towards adulthood. Over an emotive soundbed of fuzzy indie-rock (“Sun More Often,” “I Wish I Was Stephen Malkmus”), melancholic grunge (“Are You Sure”), and breezy pop-rock (“Space Cadet,” “She Plays Bass”), Bea reassures listeners that it’s okay not to fit in.
Teen Vogue caught up with Beabadoobee to chat about her “pop-punk phase," touring with Clairo, and why she wants her fans to embrace what makes them different.
TV: You’re currently on tour with Clairo. What’s your relationship with her like?
BK: I have a lot of respect for her. We talked on DM for a while [before we started touring together]. She’s an amazing artist, and when I met her, she was so lovely and welcoming. It was weird because I remember listening to her [2015 song] “Bubble Gum” and falling in love with the song, and now I’m on tour with Claire. It’s amazing.
TV: You write about lots of complex and personal topics, from growing up to mental health. What are some of the most challenging, or perhaps cathartic, topics you’ve tackled?
BK: I was young and a teenager when I was negatively influenced by a lot of things that college kids usually do, and it brought me to a really dark place that I felt like I couldn't get out of. It was a mixture of that and some childhood traumas I had to face. It was really hard, and it’s still really hard, but [the more I] grow, the better it gets.
TV: Your music also speaks to issues and feelings that teens often experience. Do you find that teenagers and young people, who are often patronized to, are beginning to be taken more seriously by society?
BK: I think they are! With the help of music, they definitely are. Music is a form of expression and for myself, I see music as a way to get rid of feelings that bug me a lot. It’s very therapeutic. I think the more people speak out about it, the more people will start to listen and take us seriously.
TV: Have you ever felt like an outsider? How did you navigate that?
BK: I have always felt like an outsider, especially in a white-dominated school growing up, [where I was] surrounded by girls from privileged backgrounds. It was hard and confusing because there was a point where I wanted to be them, which makes me feel gross to say, but I managed to find an amazing group of friends who made it feel okay to be different.
I always struggled with self-confidence also, as no boy has ever liked me except for [my current boyfriend] Soren. I’m not just saying that — genuinely, I was always in the sidelines, waiting to be liked or loved, and now I’ve realized that it doesn’t matter and I should just love and accept myself. I think I’m pretty cool now, and Soren does, too.
TV: Are there any artists you listened to growing up that made you feel it was okay to be yourself?
BK: Yes, there were so many — like Elliott Smith and Daniel Johnston. Listening to them makes me feel less alone. I found the group Lush around the time I was finishing up [my 2018 album] Patched Up, and I’m so glad I did, because it was the first time I saw an Asian frontwoman who was bad*ss and had red hair!
TV: Space Cadet celebrates embracing the in-betweens and being yourself. Why is that message so critical to share with listeners?"
BK: Acceptance of oneself is so important, it makes you feel good inside and it shows on the outside. I always struggled with it and I don’t want anyone to go through the same thing. I wrote “Space Cadet” when I was getting better and I hope that it will make people feel better, too.
TV: “She Plays Bass” is a sweet rock ode to your BFF. Why is that friendship so important?
BK: Friendship is so important to me, especially the relationship I have with [my bass player] Eliana. She’s a very special person in my life and every time we hang out we have the best time. So, I’m very lucky to have her.
TV: Pavement frontman Stephen Malkmus literally tweeted about your song, “I Wish I Was Stephen Malkmus,” which was a moment. Was that surreal for you? What inspired that track?
BK: I just remember being very angry when I wrote it, and it was during a point where I was finally accepting myself, and I was getting so tired of people not liking who I was or what I did. I really look up to Stephen Malkmus. Pavement is one of my favorite bands. I listen to them a lot when I’m by myself and when I want to air guitar and scream to get my anger out, so it was super surreal meeting him in person. He’s everything I imagined he’d be.
TV: You’ve said before that you went through an “emo phase.” What was on your playlist during that time?
BK: It was more of pop-punk phase! I listened to a lot of Green Day and Blink-182. Man, I still love Green Day though. That whole Dookie album rocks. I still love the Smashing Pumpkins, too. I don’t think my playlist has changed a lot.
TV: As your fan base grows and your music continues to reach more people, how are you navigating related shifts in your career and life?
BK: It’s pretty scary and super overwhelming to be honest, but I’m so extremely grateful. I think my main priority is making music that I love. I still write songs as a hobby and when I’m bored. I’m going with the flow and just staying busy. It’s best to stay busy and not overthink everything. I need to stay creative.
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Originally Appeared on Teen Vogue