Beabadoobee Is Embracing the Chaos

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“It’s OK to accept that you’re a bitch sometimes,” Beabadoobee says. “And I needed to write a song about that.” She’s giggling, but she’s serious. The indie singer-songwriter has realized, after some deep self-reflection, that sometimes she can fall into a “very fucked up cycle” of chaotic behavior. The mature thing to do is acknowledge the problem and then do the work to fix it; Bea went a step further and wrote her latest single, “Take A Bite.”

“Lyrically, the song is about just acknowledging my side of relationships where I can be toxic,” she explains on Zoom from London. She finds comfort and familiarity in chaos, she says. “So when it comes to relationships, when I’m finally in the healthy, most loving relationship, I’ll find everything to sabotage it…I think the song is me acknowledging it and hopefully soon accepting it.”

That’s why she writes music after all—to better understand herself. “On my old records, it’s like a blame game. I’m like, ‘Well, I’m like this because this happened.’” Now, she’s looking inward.

It’s perhaps the dark flip side of her 2023 single “Glue Song,” a sweet and sappy love ballad that had TikTok swooning. The adorable music video features the Filipina-British singer introducing her current boyfriend, photographer and director Jake Erland, to her family in her hometown of Iloilo City, Philippines. (They’re still happily together; he even directed her latest music video.) “The thing is with ‘Glue Song,’ everything is so good, and then ‘Take A Bite’ is like, ‘Maybe I’m the problem. Whoops,’” she jokes.

When it came to writing the song, Bea “actually fucking hated it” at first, but her producer Jacob Bugden made an “incredible demo” that changed her mind. It switched up her writing style, too. The verses have a faster, conversational flow, as if she’s talking to the listener directly. Her inspirations were Fiona Apple and Incubus, which are evident in its moody, ’90s-’00s rock feel.

This is just the first taste of her third album, This Is How Tomorrow Moves, due August 16. It follows her stunning 2020 debut, Fake It Flowers; 2022’s sophomore LP, Beatopia, inspired by the imaginary world she made up when she was seven years old; and a collection of EPs. It also comes after she played at Coachella and Glastonbury, got nominated for the BRIT Rising Star Award, and opened for Taylor Swift on the Eras Tour.

As she weathers all these changes in her career, Bea is also continuing to come of age in her early 20s, which is a central theme on the new album. “The record is just me navigating and understanding this new world of entering womanhood and just trying to figure out [that] I need to be mature about things, I need to look at things in a different light,” the 23-year-old says. It might cover some topics from Beatopia and Fake It Flowers, but there’s a hopefulness and understanding that she’s “never really written about before.” For example, there’s a track called “Girl Song” about self-esteem issues. “And that’s something that I will probably continue to struggle with for a bit, but I know that it will get better.”

Rick Rubin (whose legendary resume includes Beastie Boys, Adele, and more) produced the album, which is still sinking in for Bea. “Honestly, literally, what the hell?” she laughs. “I just didn’t think an opportunity like that would ever happen to me in my career.” The collaboration began with a casual meeting that felt “like a therapy session.” Bea played him a couple songs off the record for fun, still with no plans to work on the album together. But a week later, Bea says, Rubin’s manager reached out to hers and offered to produce.

‘Take A Bite’ is like, ‘Maybe I’m the problem. Whoops.’”

“It was really interesting experiencing that and the magical-ness of Shangri-La [Rubin’s recording studio] in Malibu and his notes and his advice,” she says. “I just feel like it benefited the record so much, and I’m just so glad I decided to do this, because a big part of me was very scared, and then I just jumped in.”

She actually wrote a song about that very feeling on the album, called “Beaches.” “It just talks about how I was scared to take this opportunity, because I find comfort in being in my house and working with Jacob in a little fucked-up studio in West London.” But there’s a feeling of triumph in the end. It’s “probably the song that I’ve always wanted to write,” Bea says.

beabadoobee’s this is how tomorrow moves album cover

Jules Moskovtchenko

Beabadoobee’s This Is How Tomorrow Moves album cover.

The album’s title is inspired by the past year of her life. “So much had happened. Not only just the album stuff, but a lot of personal stuff,” she says. This Is How Tomorrow Moves is her “learning how to move past that bit of my life, but not being so angry about it.” It’s her accepting the cyclical nature of life. “There’s always going to be hardships, but it’s like, you’re always going to come out the other end, and then something’s going to hit you again. But that’s just how it is.” Even though she was literally and physically out of her comfort zone while making the album, she found the beauty in it. “Ironically, I wasn’t wearing any makeup, and I was wearing the same fucking clothes every day, but it was the most beautiful I ever felt.”

Asked whether she’s excited to tour these new songs, Bea responds with a resounding, “Oh my God, bitch, yes.” She used to dread tour, as it used to take a toll on her physical and mental health; she’d often get sick on the road. But she’s learned to set some healthy boundaries. “The amount of times I had a breakdown on tour is actually insaaaaane,” she sing-songs. One of the lowest lows came when, in 2022, she was broken up with via DM 10 minutes before going on stage.

The record is just me navigating and understanding this new world of entering womanhood.”

“I was having a mental breakdown in the trailer, and I was like, ‘I can’t play this show.’ There are kids outside waiting to see me perform, and I had to get up and play.” Somehow, she powered through. “It was my Katy Perry moment,” she says half-joking, referencing how the pop star performed moments after her ex-husband asked for a divorce. When I mention the similarities to Taylor Swift’s new song, “I Can Do It With a Broken Heart,” about touring after her Joe Alwyn split, Bea responds, “Bless her. I mean, the best people go through it.”

She’s doing much better now, though. “Now I’m in a really happy relationship, and I feel like you grow as a person [from breakups], and you just have to understand life happens, part of the plan, I guess. Pardon the pun, it’s just the way things go,” Bea laughs upon referencing her own song about that last breakup, tucking her hair behind her ear. “I feel like it definitely made me see playing shows in a different light, because I was so happy as soon as I got on that stage. I was so happy to see everyone.”

Beabadoobee was born Beatrice Laus in the Philippines and moved to the U.K. when she was three. She used to go back in the summers until she was 15, but the visits became less frequent as she got older. Her last homecoming was to film the “Glue Song” video. But the culture continues to influence her in other ways. “I grew up listening to Filipino love songs, and I feel like they write so beautifully,” she says. She covered an OPM (Original Pilipino Music, mostly from the ’70s and ’80s) song, “Panalangin” by APO Hiking Society, which has over four million views on TikTok. “APO Hiking Society was a band I listened to when I was growing up, and it reminds me of my grandma, reminds me of my mom. It just has a very special place in my heart,” she says. She hopes to do a “proper” cover one day.

With all the changes she’s gone through the past year, Bea credits her mom, a nurse, as an integral—and humbling—part of her support system. “It’s so interesting hearing myself talk about all the hardships I went through. And then I look at my mom [and dad, who emigrated from the Philippines to the U.K.] and I’m like, ‘Holy fuck, I should not be saying anything.’” The album drops on her mother’s birthday.

She also turns to her friends, the first people who hear her songs, as well as her boyfriend, Jake, who actually helped her write some of them, in challenging times. “I just have a really lovely support system, which I’m really, really grateful for.”

I’m also a 23-year-old girl that wants to post a video about my cats. Shoot me.”

In the wider scheme, that might also include her fans, who buzz with excitement at her shows and belt her songs along with her. Their connection to Bea doesn’t end with her heart-wrenching lyrics or sticky melodies; they’re also engaging with her on TikTok, where she boasts 3.2 million followers. “I love talking to them. I actually talk to people so much because I think they’re all so fucking funny.” They probably feel the same way about her and her unfiltered videos. “I post the most unhinged shit, and then I forget I posted about it,” Bea says. At this point, everyone is a Close Friend.

Bea used to hate the platform before she first joined. “I was like, ‘What the fuck is this app?’ And then I started using it, and I was using it like a millennial.” But alas, she got hooked. It even helped her career; her breakout moment happened in 2020 when a remix of her 2017 song “Coffee” became a viral sensation. Now, she’s a carefree natural, whether she’s posting videos with her boyfriend and cats or lip-syncing with her friends. The key is not taking herself too seriously. “Yes, I love making music, music is my fucking life,” she says. “But I’m also a 23-year-old girl that wants to post a video about my cats. Shoot me.”

In recent months, she’s teased a snippet of “Take A Bite” in her videos, building up fans’ excitement, but to her it wasn’t planned promotion. “I love my ‘Take A Bite’ snippet so much that if it wasn’t my song I’d be making TikToks [with it]. It’s the same way I use Lana [Del Rey] songs hanging out with my friends.” If TikTok does get banned, the thing she’ll really miss is being entertained by the videos on her For You Page. But when it comes to her music, she’ll survive. “Even if TikTok shuts down, even if Instagram shuts down, even if the world is ending, you’ll still catch me with an acoustic guitar. Let’s be real.”

In the past four years since releasing her debut album, Bea has become less concerned with what other people think. “I just have more important things to worry about than what people say about me on the internet now.” She adds, “I feel like I’m much more sure of what I want and of myself.”

She’s also become more confident in her songwriting, especially while creating this album. She remembers a moment when she and Bugden prepared demos to play for Rubin. “And he said, ‘No, I don’t want to listen to any demos. I want you to relearn the entire album the way you wrote to on acoustic guitar and play it to me tomorrow morning,’” And that’s what she did. Hearing the stripped-down compositions made her appreciate her own skill. “I’m like, ‘Oh, I know this is a good song, because even without all the instrumentations and the production, it’s still a good song.’” The epiphany brought her back to how she would write music at 17, like “Coffee.” “There’s an innocence in that that I want to keep,” she says.

“I hate overthinking when I write music. I don’t need the most complicated chord progression, I don’t need to study music theory. I just write what I feel. And if I think it’s good, then that’s what matters the most. What happens after is out of my control,” Bea says. “If people like it, that’s amazing. If people don’t like it, sucks for you.”

And if that comes off as bitchy, maybe she’ll write a song about that one day, too.

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