Interview: beabadoobee Talks Growth and Her New EP Space Cadet

Tuesday, October 15, 2019
Photo by Jordan Curtis Hughes 

London-based artist beabadoobee continues to evolve as an artist and her third EP Space Cadet (released via Dirty Hit) showcases her growth as a songwriter and musician. The EP was expected to be released this Friday, but instead, she released it earlier overnight. She's as open as ever on her new release, with her words on the EP's five tracks appearing like pages straight out of her diary. Along with sharing Space Cadet, she's currently on the road with Clairo for her North America and Canada dates. A few weeks ago, we spoke with beabadoobee about pursuing music full-time, Space Cadet and the cathartic power of music.

You're currently on the road with Clairo, how has it all been going?

It's been really cool! Also really overwhelming because I just kind of finished school, but I'm getting more comfortable every single day, so that's a good thing.

I write these songs in my bedroom and the fact that I can share them with a lot of people helps me. It's really therapeutic for myself and hopefully it kind of makes people feel less alone as I can feel like shit too.

Do you have a favourite show that you've played so far on the American tour?

So far it has been Milwaukee. The crowd was super nice to me and Eliana, who plays bass, and we had a little cry beforehand. We were really emotional and really homesick. We played and it was probably one of my best shows because I guess we kind of felt the music a lot. We didn't really care about what everyone thought. We just sang and just played, it made us feel so much better, because we were really sad beforehand.

And probably Chicago too. We hung out with some Chicago peeps the day after and they were really cool and really nice and they showed us around the city.

Have you noticed a difference between crowds back home and in America?

Oh yeah, definitely! In London, the kids have some weird crackhead energy where they literally do not care if they get injured (laughs). When we tell them to mosh, moshing to them means flying across the venue to the right side to the left, literally just a riot. I think in America kids think moshing is jumping on the spot, which is cool too. But I guess Americans are way more chilled than London kids, London kids literally just do not care if they get injured at a show.

Since finishing school, music's now your full-time gig. How's it been?

It's been really cool. It's something that I really love doing, and now I get to do it full-time. It's pretty liberating to have this opportunity to get to do what I love every single day. It's just pretty sick. But it's also kind of overwhelming because I've just been thrown into it very quickly. I write a lot of songs in my bedroom, so to step outside that can be scary. This [the American tour] is one of the first things I've done since graduating and I've never been to America before. It's really hard to process, but I'm also super grateful for everything that's happening.

Was there a moment at school when you realised that you wanted to do music full-time?

I remember the specific moment where I kind of knew I didn't want to conform to education and shit like that. It was a meeting about universities and my dad was being hella serious about, "Oh, you need to know about universities you want to go to".

And then I was just like, "No, I want to do music and I'm going to do music. I'm going to write songs." All I did when I got home from school was write songs. During that time, I wasn't even signed yet, I was just doing music as a hobby and as a fun thing. I didn't take it seriously. But I was like, I kind of want to focus on it a bit more and probably not go to uni. That was when 'Coffee' was getting a bit of recognition and I was like, "I really want to make this a thing".

Honestly, though, I also really would love to become a nursery teacher, it's something I'm really passionate about.

You have your EP Space Cadet coming out soon, and though the first two EPs were incredible, this one really shows your growth as a songwriter. How do you think you've evolved as a songwriter and as an artist across the three EPs?

I think I've become so much more comfortable with the kind of sound I’m doing. I'm just becoming more comfortable with the songwriting process and the type of route I want to take my music. I've tried exploring every element of music that inspired me. For Patched Up, Simon and Garfunkel inspired me. Then I started liking Sonic Youth. Then for Space Cadet, It was very Pavement-inspired, also Dinosaur Jr, My Bloody Valentine, The Cranberries, and all my favourite bands all mushed into one. Also growing as a person helps me grow as a musician more.

You said online that you really loved your new music because it sounds like what you would listen to on your playlists. Is that important for you to constantly listen to music and be surrounded by sounds that you're inspired by?

Oh yeah, I've always wanted to make music that reminds me of the music I love, it's always been a big goal of mine, you know, to make a song that I would listen to myself. Like if I didn't know me and I found 'I Wish I Was Stephen Malkmus' on Spotify, I'd bang out that tune, (laughs) I'd put that on my playlist.

'I Wish I Was Stephen Malkmus' was named after the legend himself, what inspires you most about Pavement?

Just absolutely everything about Pavement. I love the way Stephen Malkmus plays the guitar, the way he sings, I am just so intrigued by Pavement. I kind of mimic it in the song, I guess it's deffo a very obvious tribute to Pavement.

Outside of music, what are some things you find yourself drawn to when trying to keep inspired?

I watch a lot of movies, like a shit ton of movies. I also love hanging out with my friends and just watching a lot of shows.

I grew up on every eighties film you could ever think of because my mom was obsessed with them.  St. Elmo's Fire, Some Kind of Wonderful, Pretty in Pink, and they're just some of my favourite movies. And I also love Tom Hanks, so pretty much every Tom Hanks film.

How would you say Space Cadet captures where you're at in life right now?

I think Space Cadet was written at a time where I started accepting myself and I was becoming much more sure about myself. I was calm and I stopped giving a shit about what people thought. It was during a period where I started not caring about what people were thinking and that's when I wrote most of the songs.

I can't really say that now because I guess I go through waves where I feel great and then feel crap. So Space Cadet, that was during a really good time in my life when I was like, "Yeah. Fuck everyone. Fuck what everyone's doing, because I'm just going to do this and then do that".

Just like the EPs that came before it, Space Cadet is very personal and reflective. Does it make you nervous being open and candid?

It can feel very strange. I'm quite open, and I've become used to expressing myself. I've had a lot of counsellors throughout life and I've become more comfortable talking about myself and being honest about how I feel, it's something that comes naturally with my songwriting.

You mention being honest and that's something you can really feel as a listener when hitting play on your music — how important is it for you, as both a person and an artist, to prioritise authenticity above anything else?

I never really think much of it, it's something I just do. When I write my music, it's coming from a vulnerable place and it feels like therapy. It's like giving myself some peace of mind. When I write a song, it gets what I'm feeling out of my system. It helps me a lot. I do it as I know I need some help or an outlet and music helps me express myself. If I didn't have music, I don't know what I would have done so I'm glad it's in my life.

The therapeutic element of music is so powerful. I've read online that some places call your music 'therapeutic alt-rock', what's your take on that?

That sounds like a pretty cool genre. I obviously don't want to limit myself with genres and kind of keeping myself in one genre, but if that's what people think it sounds like, I'm not complaining because that sounds really cool. I guess it is very therapeutic, because it's therapeutic to me. And with the alternative rock element, that connects to my inspirations, which is hard to avoid — there's a lot of similar chord progressions inspired by artists I listen to on Space Cadet

To finish up, what do you hope listeners get out of their listening experience of Space Cadet?

I hope it helps listeners with self-acceptance. Hopefully, people listen to the music and are inspired by my growth as an artist and how much I've changed through every EP I've released. Even listen to it lyrically and get that it's okay to feel this way. I wrote Space Cadet during a time where I was starting to accept myself.

Compared to my other EPs, I focussed more on instrumentation on Space Cadet. I wanted to focus more on the sounds. A lot of effort went into the EP and I'm proud of how much I've grown musically.

Written by Amy Smolcic (@amysmolcic)

Listen to Space Cadet by beabadoobee:

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