Album of the Week: Beabadoobee, 'Our Extended Play'

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Beabadoobee, 'Our Extended Play EP'
Beabadoobee, 'Our Extended Play EP' (Dirty Hit Records)
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The British artist keeps the emotions heightened with that "the world is ending" fervor, but always keeps a focus on real feelings for an album that is looking forward to good times, but knowing we're not there yet.

Beabadoobee recently caught up with Jill Riley on what she's been working on for the past year, how she got her start in music, and some of her dream collaborators--watch the full interview below.

Interview Highlights

Edited for clarity and length.

JILL RILEY: So, "She Plays Bass," can you help me set this one up a little bit? When did you write this one? When did you record it?

Beabadoobee: I wrote this I think like 2018 or 2019 for my EP Loveworm. I worked with this guy called Pete Robertson and my engineer Joseph Rogers. They brought this song to life. It's one of my favorite songs. Yeah, "She Plays Bass". It's about my bassist, Eliana. She's a good friend of mine, she's my best friend.

When we first started playing your music here on The Current, I remember taking a look at your name and going, "Beabadoobee. Okay, I wonder if that's a nickname." I'm sure you've been asked this question Bea, can you tell us the story of--when did that become your stage name?

I never really expected this to be a thing. So when my friend Oscar, who at the time was releasing my music on all the streaming platforms he said, "You need an artist name to go by." At the time, I had a separate Instagram account just for me and my mates--it's called a finsta, and it was called Beabadoobee because none of the names were being accepted on the app. And I was like, "No one's gonna listen to my music Oscar, just use that name. Use my other Instagram name," and now we're here.

And now there's no changing it, you know?

I think it's sweet though.

Yeah, I think it is too. Even going back there to kind of the beginning--just to get you to know you a little bit more, just about kind of the beginning of when you started playing music--between now, today when we're talking, and when you actually picked up a guitar, I mean, things have moved pretty fast for you in a few years. So can you kind of take us back to when you started playing music?

I started playing music when I was like 17? Towards like, going to 18 and my dad had brought home a guitar because he said I looked sad. I just got kicked out of school. So he was like, "You should start playing this, and this would be a good distraction for you," type of thing.

Okay, so now I can't go forward. Now you get kicked out of school, but I mean, everything was okay--you weren't in any big trouble were you?

No, it was an all-girls Catholic school. So, yeah, weird stuff happened in that school. I'm glad they kicked me out because I wouldn't have started making music and then wouldn't have made the friends I did.

Yeah I don't know if I would have lasted either. I think I would have been kicked out of an all girls Catholic school, even though I grew up with a strict Catholic mother, Catholic grandmother, so I know the deal. But you never know! Okay, so this one thing happens and then you're able, because of it, to pick up a guitar. Had you thought about songwriting before, I mean, had you tried your hand at visual art or poetry or anything? Where did the songwriting part come from?

I used to write a lot poetry when I was a kid, I was really into story writing. Loved creating stories. They had this thing at school called Reading Records, and you'd have to read a book and write a little summary of what happened and how it made you feel. I was reading a book at the time and I remember completely not reading the book and creating a whole entire story on my reading record. And I was like, the cover looks like it's about detectives. So I'm just gonna go and make a story by myself and tell my teacher it's about this when it's completely like--I just haven't even touched the book. I did a lot of that growing up and I played violin for like seven years. I remember writing a song for show and tell in year seven, when I was like, 11. I got a girl to sing it for me because I was too shy to sing it, so I taught her how to sing it. She sang it for my show and tell. Yeah, that was quite strange.

That's pretty incredible. I think you're maybe a natural born singer, songwriter, and producer--if you're willing to get other people in the front with you. But I guess if you played violin--picking up a guitar must have felt a little familiar. How did you go about learning? I remember when I learned guitar, and this would have been in the 90s. I had to buy guitar books. But I imagine that you can do just about anything if you hop on YouTube. So what was your kind of path to learning guitar?

Just like YouTube tutorials. I loved Elliott Smith. I still love him. So we learned a few of his songs, I remember one of the first songs I'd ever learned on guitar was Sixpence None the Richer "Kiss Me".

Kiss Me!

The chords to "Coffee" are quite similar. Yeah, it's quite funny--yeah, just literally, just YouTube. When I discovered like tunings, it made it way easier for me because I'm still a beginner and learning tunings make it easier.

Right? I remember that too, playing a lot of open chords when I was learning, just so I could play the guitar and have it sound like something, much less trying to learn to write lyrics and to actually come up with songs but I think that there's--when you're first learning maybe there's a nice kind of simplicity there. If you know three or four chords, then you know what you're working with. Was that your feeling like, "Okay, I can learn some simple songs and out of that, I can do what I want."

Yeah, definitely. It was artists like Kimya Dawson, and her band when she was in The Moldy Peaches. I remember listening to that and being like, oh, you just...you don't need much. You just needed a guitar and you need just a couple of chords and you have a song type of thing. Yeah, that stuff really motivated me. That's how all my songs start off--especially everything that's out currently, it all started from just me on an acoustic guitar.

When you talked about having your first full length record out, Fake It Flowers, and talking about how it's a really personal record for you--do you feel like your fans connect with you in a deeper way because you're able to be so vulnerable with your songwriting?

Oh, yeah. If anything, they watched me grow up. They've seen me go through all of it. Especially the people who have known me since "Coffee". They've seen every hair color every relationship, weird thing. I feel like the people that listen to my music, if I didn't make music, we'd just be friends. They all dress cool and listen to similar music as me.

How does it feel to have people look up to you? Do people ask you for advice? Or even outside of music, I would think that just knowing what I know of musicians and fan culture, that there's such a strong bond that can be formed, you know what I mean?

Yeah, and it's really flattering, it's quite scary at times. I don't want to change myself, with the idea that I'm a role model to people because I want to continue being myself and hopefully that can help girls that look like me do their own thing. I never really had that when I was growing up like, until, like, I obviously discovered Lush and like, Karen O. But I remember just growing up and not having any Filipina women on stage playing guitar. So it's nice knowing that I can be that to at least one girl.

I love that. I love hearing that and I think that there's something to that with this generation of singer-songwriters. There are so many great female singer-songwriters coming up right now. When I was a teenager in the 90s there were maybe like one or two appointed alterna-girls, and then that was it. There were others out there, but they kind of got filtered out through the music business, you know what I mean? But I think that you and a lot of others have this advantage of having the streaming possibility and the internet and social media to connect with people and to get your name out there. But I suppose that there's an up and a downside to that.

Oh yeah, I think anything in excess is bad. The internet is an amazing place to share music, discover music, and it's definitely helped my career. Being able to watch me grow, but that does come with a lot of downsides like the attention and feeling like you're being watched under a microscopes or something, which can be really scary. I hate pressure, but I try not to dwell on that too much. I'm still working on it. I'm still trying not to care about stupid comments, trying to do my own thing and numbers are the last of my worries. I try not to look at any numbers at all, because I remember when you know, "Coffee" blew up with the remix. That was really overwhelming. So I was like, "Oh my god, I'd never expected this amount of people to even listen to me," about a song--a quite intimate song about making my boyfriend a cup of coffee type of thing. So it was strange. But it is really nice to know that people care about the music.

External Link

Beabadoobee - Official Site

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