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Singer/songwriter Beabadoobee pairs delicately sung confessions with guitars that pack a wallop. When she first emerged in 2017 with “Coffee” — the first song she ever wrote — her intimate, lo-fi sound reflected her love of indie songwriters like Elliott Smith and Kimya Dawson and fit in perfectly with bedroom pop contemporaries such as Clairo. By 2019, however, she’d stepped out of the bedroom’s confines with releases such as the Space Cadet EP, an homage to the sounds of ’90s Sonic Youth and Pavement that featured the track “I Wanna Be Stephen Malkmus.” Even as she cranked up the volume, Beabadoobee held on to her music’s frank yet vulnerable viewpoint on her 2020 debut album, Fake It Flowers, and 2022′s Beatopia, which expanded her horizons to include folk, Latin, and psych-rock influences.
Born in 2000 in the Philippines’ Iloilo City, Bea Kristi and her family moved to London’s Camden neighborhood when she was three. Growing up, she took years of violin lessons and listened to Pinoy music as well as the ’90s artists — the Cranberries, Liz Phair, Natalie Imbruglia — that were her mother’s favorites. As a teen, she felt like an outsider. The only Filipino student at an all-girl Catholic school (where a screening of the 2007 film Juno introduced her to the music of Kimya Dawson, a major influence on her sound), she struggled with depression and discrimination, and was expelled at age 17. To cheer her up, her father bought her a secondhand guitar. Teaching herself to play with online tutorials and taking the performing name Beabadoobee from an old social media handle, she created a delicate, intimate style informed by Dawson’s music as well as that of Alex G, Florist, and Karen O. Beabadoobee recorded the first song she wrote, “Coffee,” in a friend’s bedroom and put it online in September 2017. Though her goal was to share it with her friends, the song soon had hundreds of thousands of views.
“Coffee”’s online success piqued the interest of London’s Dirty Hit label, which signed Beabadoobee early in 2018. She released a pair of EPs on the label that year: March’s Lice and December’s Patched Up, both of which built on her viral single’s quietly confessional approach. However, she wanted her music to sound fuller, so she recruited bassist Eliana Sewell, drummer Louis Semlekan-Faith, and guitarist Jacob Bugden to flesh out her sound. Working with former Vaccines drummer Pete Robertson as producer, in April 2019, Beabadoobee issued the Loveworm EP, which introduced a heavier grunge- and shoegaze-inspired attack to her melodies; an acoustic version, “Loveworm (Bedroom Sessions),” appeared in July. Once again featuring production by Robertson, that October’s Space Cadet EP was an even bolder homage to ’90s indie and alt-rock. Beabadoobee closed out the year with a cover of Simple Minds’ “Don’t You Forget About Me” and nominations for the 2020 Brit Awards’ Rising Star Award and the BBC’s Sound of 2020 critics’ poll.
Beabadoobee’s success continued into 2020. Along with a February tour supporting labelmates the 1975, the Canadian rapper Powfu’s single “Death Bed (Coffee for Your Head),” which sampled “Coffee,” became a viral hit with billions of plays when it was used in a social media meme. The track entered the Top Five in several countries and earned gold and platinum certification in several others, including the U.K. and the U.S. That October, Beabadoobee released her debut album, Fake It Flowers. Produced by Robertson and engineered by Joseph Rodgers, it expanded on the ’90s alt-rock-goes-pop feel of Space Cadet. A Top Ten hit in the U.K., the album also charted in Australia, Japan, and the U.S., and made fans out of Harry Styles and Taylor Swift.
In May 2021, Beabadoobee returned with the Our Extended Play EP. Featuring the COVID-19 pandemic-inspired single “Last Day on Earth,” she co-wrote and produced the EP with the 1975′s Matty Healy and George Daniel. During this time, she worked on her second album with Budgen, using her time in quarantine to write songs about her traumatic past that also borrowed from folk, bossa nova, and hip-hop. Named for the imaginary world she created when she was seven, July 2022′s introspective Beatopia featured contributions from Daniel and Healy as well as PinkPantheress and Black Country, New Road’s Georgia Ellery. “Glue Song” appeared in 2023. ~ Heather Phares