“I miss that physical feeling of playing live, deep in my chest.” With her new album, Fake It Flowers, out today, Deputy Editor for Culture, Georgina Davidson, interviews Beabadoobee about her sound, creating during lockdown, and memories of touring.
The power to harness crowds is something that performers in the music industry covet, despite the ever-growing demands from streaming services and social media. The distant, but still tangible memory of the elation which happens between the first chord to the final applause, is something both audiences and performers have craved for months.
Despite a cultural task force, it seems to have become more complex than ever to devise live shows and gain traction in new UK music. Whilst good writing and carefully considered composition are certainly still needed to succeed in the scene, a new generation of adaptable, active, multi-skilled artists is forming. Yes, quality musicianship can be learnt, but the same, however, cannot be said for a performance that has the power to unleash atmospheric and truly anthemic engagement to rival the acts, genre, and roster which the artist defines themselves from.
It is the relationship between the artist and a crowd which creates breathtakingly liminal moments at a gig – that feeling of a kind of excitement and magic. For Beatrice ‘Bea’ Laus (better known as Beabadoobee) this reaction has steadily become, no rare occurrence.
From the moment of play, her popular single ‘Space Cadet’ rockets ahead with pop punk power and guitar led definition. Her first headline outing on The Dirty Hit December 2019 Tour, displayed her unique handling and genuine enthusiasm for guitar work – rendered her gig wild, well presented, and yet still full of experimentation.
In a phone interview with Bea, we discussed her tour and life around that time. A unique and unbound energy rings clear from her enthusiastic tone when discussing her creativity and her desire to make her sound and style work cohesively. It appears she has found time to unravel her experiences as an artist through the making of Fake it Flowers. Bea seems to bounce from thought to thought, with the fire and DIY aura of a frustrated 90s Alt band.
She was quick to admit that she had developed cycles and coping strategies when she started touring which she feels she no longer associates with. “I’ve definitely moved on creatively,” she explained, “I began tour as a kid with blue hair, dyed in black again, I changed how I looked so often… I think tours can sometimes make you forget who you are and it can get crazy really quickly.”
The lively performance, reckless riff ability and endearing interactions with her band, (“The vibes are immaculate”) surely could not have spawned from a hair colour change alone? But Bea seemed to hint perhaps image and frame of mind may have impacted her earlier experiences of touring and demeanour more than initially realised. The impact of the relentless nature of the lifestyle may have affected her at the time, but her natural confidence shines through even at these, seemingly, more vulnerable moments, and provides a raw advantage to her sound.
It must have been a great change of pace then, to face a release the first album Fake it Flowers in the midst of a globally slower gig economy, which has stripped away so many aspects of being a live performer. It seemed right that the first single release, ‘Care’, hit the ground running, with a fierce and forward approach to the de-construction and realities of a broken down relationship. The lyrics almost run-parallel with the feeling of abandonment that runs deep within places in the music community, in these difficult times.
We discussed the struggle that young creatives are currently facing, alongside tough restrictions on grassroots level activity. How can artists flourish without support or practical mentoring, and with the unbearable constriction of the field during lockdown?
In some ways, Bea seems to have found an answer and a level of peace in her work with online masterclasses. Although scathing of the government’s lack of support for creatives, Bea seemed determined. She commented on the learning process between herself and fans: “It is important to learn from past traumas and I don’t like the idea there’s one way to create and telling people that… I learnt to organise my brain a little and they [her fans] asked questions that I had never really been asked before about song-writing.”
Bea’s sound captures the distinctive garage rock guitar sound of the 90s. Her music is fittingly laidback and layered thoughtfully to create a colossal soundscape; the performance is led by guitars and bass riffs, which hint at a neutralised low-fi sound.
It really seems that Bea is casting her net into a pool of new rock which seeks progression in the way they are viewed and heard, and which seeks space to adapt. She was quick to point out that she recorded live versions of tracks as she felt that they were supposed to have that energy from the start: “I can’t wait to be doing it again live… I miss that physical feeling of playing live, deep in my chest.”
There is room for the fake, the floral, and the forgiven in Bea and her band’s work, but will their live energy be experienced and enjoyed, in the way they hoped? That is yet to be seen.
Beabadoobee’s latest album ‘Fake it Flowers’ is released today (Friday 16th October 2020), distributed via Dirty Hit records. To find out more click the link here.