Step into the brain of a seven-year-old and we’ll find things bound to be hidden, sooner or later. Blame it on society or the looming cloud called “cringe culture.” But if our kid personas taught us anything, it’s that being brashly unapologetic makes way for big idealistic leaps—something that we probably need in our lost grown-up selves.
This, in a way, is the concept behind Beabadoobee’s sophomore record “Beatopia.” In a virtual press con with media outlets from across the globe, Bea—real name Beatrice Laus—talks in detail about the make-believe world she had constructed when she was seven years old. And like the cynical reality check placed at a climactic point, all of a sudden, it was shoved aside.
“I made this amazing poster of Beatopia with all the country names and all the languages. I drew this amazing world, which I left on my desk at school,” she retells. “When I came back from my violin lesson, I was like, why is everyone staring at me? My teacher at the time–who was an absolute douche—said, ‘Is there anything you’d like to tell us, Bea? ‘Beatopia’?’”
“He had pinned the poster on the whiteboard for everyone to see. And everyone just started laughing at me. So, from that moment onwards, I had deleted Beatopia from my mind. I was like, I will never speak of Beatopia ever again.”
Fast forward to a 21-year-old Bea, and it’s a 180-degree flip. The Filipino-British musician is on the brink of releasing her album named after her once-forgotten make-believe world, just as she’ll wrap up her stint in Coachella as the youngest Filipino to perform. “Beatopia” is the follow-up to 2020’s “Fake It Flowers,” and while her debut wallowed in the past, “Beatopia” is its present-looking sister all set to accept herself.
“[‘Beatopia’] is really like accepting who I was as a person and maturing and becoming an adult, which is still happening,” she says. “It was always inside of me, something that I completely deleted off my mind when I was seven, and revisiting that and being like, well, this is kind of badass.”
On Y2K nostalgia
While her second record is more forward-thinking in the case of lyrics, the Y2K sound and look are a prevalent presence. Take “Beatopia’s” first single “Talk” for example, where a guitar-strumming Bea is surrounded by a crowd of fans, visuals that wouldn’t be out of a place in a segment on MTV’s “Total Request Live” which thrived in the 2000s.
“The idea of wanting it to sound nostalgic is something that I always crave,” she says.
For Beabadoobee, the 2000s influence was a response to a generation of kids “obsessed with categorizing things into things.” According to the artist, Y2K musicians were branching out to other genres so as to not be defined by one label. “Beatopia” was her way to fit into that “no pressure” zone.
“What gravitates me towards that time is the unapologetic-ness of every artist, and just them creating music because they wanted to create, not for anyone else but for themselves,” she tells Scout. “They weren’t sticking to a specific genre or any specific rules. They just made music. They just created art. And that is what I want to do.”
On being influenced by Filipino artists (and influencing them, too)
As a kid, Bea spent her summers in her birthplace Iloilo, where most of her family still stays. If “Beatopia” were a real place, Filipino influence would probably surround it in hoards—even as a musical soundtrack.
Aside from the international 2000s artists the album revolves around, Beabadoobee also takes cues from old-school Filipino musicians. She credits “amazing songwriters” like Apo Hiking Society and Eraserheads, whom, she says, “seeps into [her] music without realizing.”
“Every time I listen to a Filipino song, [there’s] a feeling that I can never really get with music in English. It makes me feel like I’m at home.”
And at some point in the distant future, Beabadoobee could drop a Filipino track as part of the “Beatopia” ’verse, saying that she’s been “thinking about making an acoustic EP off of ‘Beatopia,’” which could potentially feature a Filipino song written by her and her mom.
But if Filipino artists played a part in her artistic coming-of-age story, then so does she with up-and-comers. Growing up in London, representation wasn’t a frequent deal—on the top of her head, Beabadoobee can recall Mutya Buena from girl group Sugababes, at the least.
“I definitely wanted to see a Filipino artist making rock music or making music that I wanted to make,” she says. “And I was just like, fuck it. I’ll just be that for myself.”
True to that, the situation has flipped: Filipino folks now approach her in thanks. “The amount of times a Filipino girl comes up to me after a show and tells me a short story about her life and how she picked up a guitar—that always just hits harder than anything,” she recalls. “It hits harder than any gig I play, it hits harder than any award I get. That’s way more important and sentimental to me.”
In spite of the efforts of her primary school teacher, Beabadoobee now sits where she’s supposed to be—on the throne of blissful Beatopia, with her success seeping from make-believe to the real world.
Next on the list of Beatopian domination is this year’s Coachella, which she’ll play for two Sundays. Bea doesn’t have an actual ritual for prepping, she says—just the luck of people who wish her that, along with a cup of tea to keep her stamina in check. Rituals or not, Beabadoobee is pretty certain: She’s gonna pull through. (In her words, she “usually does.”)
“Beatopia” is slated for release on July 15. Pre-order the album here.