Beabadoobee remembers snow the first time she came to London. Back then, it seemed like such a big deal. A lot has changed since that first trip, having gone past OPM music her mom used to put on rotation, her dad making adobo for school lunch, and regular visits back home to the Philippines.
She’s still on that constant journey of growing-up and self-acceptance, but she’s a lot more comfortable now in her Filipino skin than she was as a teenager. This is something that translates into her music, inspired by the honesty of the songs of her childhood—bands like APO Hiking Society, Itchyworms, and Eraserheads. “Every time I listen to those bands, it makes me feel this comforting feeling I always crave. And that’s what I want my music to portray when people listen to it.”
She goes by Bea for the remainder of our talk, casually perched in front of the camera, signature freckles on full display. There’s some talk of lockdowns and teleseryes to break the ice a little bit, but she’s easily relaxed as we go through the motions of your typical Zoom interview.
Outside of that affinity for sultry rock and hard grunge, she’s also a big fan of strings—currently hoping to re-learn the violin and play the harp next year—and classical music. “I’ve always wanted to be a Disney princess, that’s always been my dream…I also love Lea Salonga, and literally every Disney princess that exists,” she gestures with both her hands and a big smile on her face as she touches on both sides of herself, the typical rock fan, and the overindulgent princess-at-heart. “It’s like, what if I just combine the two? And that’s how Fake it Flowers was born.”
Fake It Flowers is Beabadoobee’s debut album, which came out on October 16 this year. It’s a marriage between the 90s style-music Bea has come to love and new experimental sounds of the alternative range. But she’s quick to dispel a definitive genre for her music, finding them “quite limiting” and “just a bit of a label.” To Bea, “music is music” and the beauty of music is that “you can do whatever you want.”
“I just don’t really believe in genres, but I definitely do believe in growing and exploring new concepts and ideas,” she explains. “I’m not necessarily saying Fake It Flowers is the sound of Beabadoobee, like this whole 90s thing, whatever—because that in itself is another label. I feel like I’ve yet to discover myself and I’ve yet to explore new sounds.”
Her journey to the making of Fake It Flowers certainly helps in this respect. Having found an “amazing, talented band,” she has become more open to the idea of writing and sharing opinions when it comes to her music-making. “I still write and do everything in my bedroom,” she says, perfectly fitting as she tours us around her bedroom with these shots of polaroid. “I find the chord progression, I find the melodies, I find the lyrics, but now…I have these amazing producers called Pete and Joe [who] are able to kind of create these songs from my bedroom and make them come to life and make them sound exactly how I wanted them to sound in my head.”
One of her favorites to record is Yoshimi, Forest, Magdalene, the last song off the album. “That was the only song recorded live in the live room, and our live room is tiny so we were all just jammed together. There were two drum kits and we recorded it a complete mess, like actually such a mess. And we just put it out like that,” she says with a shrug. “I wanted the last song to kind of be just this crazy, doesn’t make any sense, just kind of fun type of song.”
With all of that over with, Beabadoobee is writing just a little bit of whatever is next to come for her music, taking inspirations from artists she’s currently listening to such as Portishead and The Cardigans. Stuck in another lockdown, she takes this time to just have a little break and live in the world post the release of her debut album. However, Bea’s story is far from over. She’s come a long way from dreams of becoming a nursery teacher and bad grades.
“I wish I was that type of person to be like—yep, I did both [music and education] amazing. I mean one of those things had to fuck up to make the other one soar,” she recalls. “And I honestly did absolute shit in my exams, like I did not revise—all I did was actually just draw on the exam paper.”
Now she’s making drunk decisions at karaoke bars in Dublin, and touring and living with The 1975—learning from Matty Healy himself all the little ways of songwriting. Gone are those timid days doing photoshoots and being unsure of what to do—now she has fun and openly misses them.
Her talent is big and her experiences are unlike any other, but it doesn’t take much to make her happy at all. “If I can continue to make music and earn enough money to get a really nice house and to make sure my parents are okay, then everything’s good.”
While there are still battles to be had for Beabadoobee, conflicts of misogyny in the music industry, and her continued journey towards self-acceptance, she remains undeterred and optimistic. Such roadblocks only energize her to empower women, and provide a sense of hope, especially during these really uncertain times.
“You know, it’s shit right now, but it’s going to end up okay.” And for her, it helps to know that there are people out there who anticipate her music and find solace in what she has to say. “I don’t think I’m going to accept myself for like a while,” she laughs sheepishly. “[But] it’s like—oh, people actually give a shit about me.”
Creative direction and produced by ELYSE ILAGAN
Art direction and final art by KENNETH DIMAANO