In September of last year Beabadoobee flew over to the United States for her first tour. She’d written a song, “Coffee.” Her first song. And it was kind of getting big. She also released a handful of songs, including, “If You Want To” which really grabbed our attention and we played heavily. We invited her to play at 88Nine and she did. I remember being on stage, and she was opening for Clairo that night and saying, “See her open tonight at Turner Hall so that next time she comes through and headlines the Riverside you can say you saw her open for someone at Turner Hall.” I don’t usually say things like that, but it felt true and inevitable with Beabadoobee. Now, less than a year later, that first song she wrote, “Coffee” got picked up by Powfu who remixed it and then it blew up on Tiktok and has over 600 million plays on Spotify. It’s only been a short time, but me and Beabadoobee had a lot to catch up on. The written version is here too, but I would suggest watching the video, Bea is just so fun and likable.
You have been busy. Last time you were in Milwaukee, it was like your second day on tour. And I wanted to do some catch up from then. You had not met Stephen Malkmus and you met him like two or three days later. What was that like?
Dude, it was so sick. I remember. We knew he was coming and then it was coming really close to me being on stage and Chris wasn’t like saying anything. So I was like, didn’t want to get my hopes up. In my head, he’s not coming. And I got off the tour bus and I see the back of his head. I’m like, that’s him. I’m like, “Oh my god!” I hug him and I’m like, “I love you so much, I love your music.” And his kids are like, “we love your music too!” I’m like, “Oh my god, that’s so cool.” And then he watched the show and then he came back on the tour bus and I was like talking to his kids and his kids were like, I was telling me all the other bands they liked, I was telling them about Sonic Youth. And then they were like, “Oh, we were just at their house. And I was like, you’re kidding.
I was geeking out, I remember that day. It was like the sickest day on tour and I love Portland.
Yeah, isn’t Stephen Malkmus funny?
He’s just a cool guy. Like he’s super chill. Like he’s the coolest.
He is like such a goof. I remember talking to him and I was like, have you ever thought of doing standup comedy? And he was like, “Yeah!“
He’s amazing. It was crazy.
So we caught you on the beginning of tour and you’re excited about it. And then you went out, how was your first US tour? How did it compare with expectations? What was different than you thought it was going to be? What was better and what was worse?
Hmm. I guess like, it was strange because I hadn’t even played live a few times and I looked back at the videos of me on stage and I just like stand completely still and I have no stage presence, I look so scared on stage. I think that’s, I guess obviously, hadn’t developed my stage presence to it’s, you know, full form. But I think I’ve improved from that point. I think I was just super scared about playing and doing live shows was like super new to me. And I was just like a scared girl who didn’t do any of this before.
And the crowds are super nice. It kind of went as I expected. I was kind of learning it as every day goes. I remember the crowd being super nice and super welcoming and I mean, Claire’s crowds are just so lovely because her music is so lovely. I had nothing to really worry about that. And then I did the UK tour after and I think they had built like how to move on stage and how I communicate with the audience and that was definitely a big difference between that tour and the tour after.
That’s interesting thinking about your state presence. What was your, what was your favorite part of tour? What was the high moment?
Probably just the idea of playing shows every night and then hanging out with my best friends, which are my bandmates. That was the first time I was away from home for that long. And it was really sad. It was going to be a really strange experience and it was, but I couldn’t have done it without the people around me and you know, my support group, it was just like being on holiday with my friends. It was very stressful though. And we were still pretty shit playing live. I’m not saying we’re amazing live right now. Like was the sickest we’ve ever been.
Also since the last time we talked “deathbed (coffee for your head)” just really blew up. How did that happen?
I guess it was like, it just happened out of nowhere. Like he sampled my song and I knew it already existed on SoundCloud and you know, Chris mentioned to me like, “Oh, do you want the song?” I was like, “Oh yeah, I didn’t mind it happening.” Because I didn’t imagine it to go that well. I was like, “Oh, it’s very not my type of music.” And it’s like one of my purest forms of creation, “coffee” my first thing I ever wrote, and any attention on that song, any attention on me as a human being is super overwhelming for me, because I’ve always used to kind of just being in the background and all of a sudden they had all this unwanted attention and this pressure and it was really strange and super overwhelming. And at first I was kind of distant with it. And now I’ve come to understand that and appreciate everything that’s happened because of that and the opportunities that song has given me. And Powfu, despite the difference of the type of music, the type of song it is with my music. People listen to that song and they find the music I make. And I think that’s an amazing thing, but it is super overwhelming how fast it kind of went. It’s the soundtrack to everyone’s TikToks, it’s the weirdest thing. Because my brother’s on TikTok and he’s scrolling and I just hear my song I’m like, what the hell? And it’s like I’ve become desensitized with it, that every time I hear it I’m like, OK.
It is wild that that is the first song that you wrote. I mean, that doesn’t happen.
But I mean, if you listen to the song, it’s like two chords. Of course that’d be like the first song I’d ever written and it’s like mysteriously the same chord progression as “Kiss Me”, which is the first song I learned.
That’s great. So you are going to release the debut album, which is big because you have released a couple songs and then some EPs. What is the significance of the album? What did you want to say with this kind of big first statement?
I think just being on the tour and kind of growing up. Obviously I’m not saying like I’m a wise old man. From being a teenager, to kind of everything that’s happened so far, it really made me see everything that’s happened in my life and everything that has been changing. And I experienced a lot on tour. I made these mistakes and I made some mistakes when I was younger. And I experienced a lot of things that really affect me to this day that I wanted to kind of discuss it with myself. Like I wanted to write music as like therapy so I can get it off my chest. And writing this album, like essentially the whole idea behind it is everything I was supposed to tell someone, but couldn’t, so every song is super personal to me or it’s stories I’ve heard from other people saying that this is something they can’t tell the person it’s about. And I just thought it was time to really, I was getting much more comfortable with playing guitar and comfortable with myself. And there were times where like, there’d be situations that happen on tour and I’d write a song about it. And I’m terrified about putting these songs out because I know there’s going to be people messaging me and saying, this song is about me, isn’t it. I’m like “Oh god.” But I guess, you know, sonically, I feel like I want to stick to that feeling of nostalgic-ness that my music creates and I became more sure of that because I discovered so much more music and I guess discovered many more tunings I made and I have this Sonic Youth book, which has every single one of their tunings. And so it was like, you know what, I can write an album now.
Great. You did a songwriting workshop yesterday that I wasn’t able to go to. What was the central message that you had there for people that weren’t able to go?
I think it was just the idea of being confident in your work. And there were a lot of questions saying, I can’t finish a song. I always go off a song or it’s just like, always just caring about what other people think of their music. And I’m like, that’s what’s limiting you from creating a song that you love and you’re confident about. Because you constantly think about what other people are going to think about it. And essentially it’s for you, that song is for you, who gives a shit who listens to it. You put the song out and don’t expect anything of it, but do it because you want to do it. And you’re passionate about music. And that was kind of the message that I was kind of saying a lot during the whole thing. It was that and just a lot of tuning questions.
Tuning seems to be a big issue in your life, or a thing that’s going on right now.
Yeah. Because I cannot play, like, I am not amazing at guitar. And I feel like, Oh, you know, what’s easy. If I tune my guitar and I just use one finger? Sick, my career, done. It’s so helpful, you can find so many pretty melodies and amazing sounds when you kind of experiment with that realm. At the end of the day, it’s just a little cheat isn’t that?
What is the last song you really fell in love with?
Oh my God. There’s literally like, literally like two days ago and it’s been on repeat, it’s called “One With the Freaks” by The Notwist.
OK. I am vaguely familiar with this band. What do you know about the band, how did you find the song and why do you love it?
Basically Matty sent me the album that that song is on. I’m going to try to find what the album is called, but I listened to the whole album throughout and I was really stoned and I was in an Uber. I think back from Oxford and I was like, all right, let me listen. Let me listen to this whole album. And I was honestly in awe, like, this is what I want to make. You know when you just listen to something like, damn, I wish I thought about that first. It’s crazy. It’s like a mixture of electronic and like grunge rock and it’s like super minimal at the same time. And the codes are so open and fresh and yeah. Matty showed me that band and I just think they’re amazing.
I remember listening to them for the first time and feeling, like you were saying you want to have that nostalgic sound, I remember listening to that and being nostalgic for it as it was happening. And being like, “Man, they really just captured something that is like old and new at the same time.”
Yeah. Literally it’s oddly kind of like the future at the same time. They’re awesome. They’re just so good.