Touted as a young artist to watch out for, Fil-Brit Beabadoobee coming to Manila
From writing music in the comfort of her own bedroom, rising Filipino-British artist Beabadoobee now finds herself traveling the world, playing shows in places she has never been to.
Although life on the road can be exciting and gratifying, being away from home, she admitted, is something she still struggles with at times. She has been making music for only five years; touring is still an uncharted territory for her. But as the Manila stop of her ongoing concert tour approaches, the singer-songwriter is starting to find some sense of comfort.
“It’s definitely bizarre because this was something that’s totally unplanned… On tour, you get so much love from the fans. But I continue to struggle with being far from home… It’s like a new world to me,” she told the Inquirer in a virtual conference for her concert on Sept. 16 at the New Frontier Theater.
The upcoming show—mounted by Live Nation Philippines—is part of her “Beatopia” world tour, which was launched in support of her latest album of the same title. (Visit www.ticketnet.com.ph)
“The feeling I had [when I played] in Japan, the idea of being close to my actual home is really comforting,” she said. “And I think I’ve been feeling really happy, which is a rare thing to be on tour. And I think it’s because I’m going back home.”
Born in Iloilo City, Beabadobee—whose real name is Beatrice Kristi Laus—immigrated to London with her parents when she was 3 years old. But while her formative years were spent overseas, Bea has maintained her affinity for the Philippines and its culture—mostly through music.
“I will speak Tagalog onstage, which I’m truly excited about. I can understand it fluently and can watch Filipino movies. I can also understand Ilonggo. I just can’t speak them properly, so I will ask my mom to help me come up with something in Tagalog,” said Bea, who grew up loving the music of APO Hiking Society, Eraserheads and Itchyworms.
“I will also meet my family and relatives who will fly in from Iloilo. I think my boyfriend’s also going. That’s going to be nice,” she added. “I look forward to eating lots of food, like ube and halo-halo… I would also love to watch a local gig.”
The 22-year-old singer’s first ever song was “Coffee,” which she wrote in 2017 with a secondhand guitar her father gave her. The dreamy and sparsely produced bedroom pop tune was uploaded to YouTube, where it went viral. It eventually caught the attention of various labels, like Dirty Hit Records whose roster includes The 1975 and Rina Sawayama.
“Coffee” and some of her earlier works exude confessional indie pop vibes and lo-fi aesthetic. But Bea has since diversified her repertoire by exploring sounds and genres that had profound impact on her childhood. Her fun, and at times, angsty, debut album, “Fake it Flowers” (2020), for instance, has an unmistakable 1990s alternative rock influence.
“Sonically, I think it was all part of growing up and maturing. I was labeled as this sort of ’90s revivalist thing—which I’m not mad about. It’s lovely that people find nostalgia in my music. But I also want my music to sound more than a reference,” she said.
Meanwhile, her newly released sophomore album, “Beatopia,” had Bea experimenting with even more musical styles, like midwest emo, jazz, bossa nova and even classic OPM. The concept was inspired by the “fantastical and deeply personal” imaginary world that 7-year-old Bea concocted to escape reality.
As one of the few Asian students in a predominantly white, all-girls Catholic school, she struggled with feelings of alienation and lack of belongingness. “The transition from Philippines to London was also an inspiration… When I look back to what my 7-year-old used to do, I realized that it was a form of escape from what I was going through in life,” she said.
“But now it’s about accepting the feelings I have so long repressed and pushed under the rug. It’s like rediscovering those feelings and choosing to live with them and grow from them, instead of using them as excuses to act a certain way… It was a way for me to jump-start a new life… a new me kind of thing,” she said.
The British press and not a few international critics have touted Bea as a young artist to watch out for. In 2020, she took home the Under the Radar trophy at the NME Awards and received a nod in the Rising Star category of the prestigious BRIT Awards.
Winning awards is nice and all, but it’s not the reason she makes music, she stressed. “I don’t want to see awards for validation. At the end of the day, I make music because I love music. I play the guitar because I love playing the guitar. Music has been sort of my therapy since I was 17. And I think it will always be for me,” she said.
Despite what she has achieved in her young career, Bea’s feet remain planted on the ground. She still possesses a sense of “naivety” and “unknowingness” that keeps afloat above all the hype and noise. And she’s thankful for that.
“I appreciate everything, but I don’t get completely overwhelmed by all of this… I don’t entirely know what’s going on and there’s a beauty to that. I still appreciate everything wholeheartedly—the awards, the nominations. It’s just that, at times, I don’t really know what they are because I’m so new to all of these,” Bea said.
“I didn’t plan for any of this to happen. As much as these things make me happy and grateful, I’m not dependent on them,” she said. “It’s cool, but I’m just going to keep writing songs.” INQ
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