The spirit of Pavement’s Stephen Malkmus has regenerated itself in 2020 as a bleach-haired teenager named Bea Kristi. Born in Iloilo City in the Philippines in 2000, and raised in west London, the singer-songwriter better known as Beabadoobee (an Instagram handle that stuck) is the very definition of DIY. She uploaded the first song she ever wrote after getting a guitar – and one of the first she learned how to play – “coffee”, straight to SoundCloud in 2017. Since then she’s continued learning while also signing to The 1975’s Dirty Hit, being nominated for BRITs Critics’ Choice, and spotting Malkmus himself in the crowd at one of her shows.
Bea’s music is more than a nostalgic throwback to grunge bands gone by. Her lyrics are spiked with all the anxieties and experiments of real teenage life, and she offers a genuinely new perspective in the overwhelmingly white, male world of indie.
As she recently told Dazed, “I always felt like I was an outsider. I always felt like no one really got me, or I was different because I was Asian... (But) writing (my latest EP) Space Cadet made me so happy to be who I was.” Now, she’s hoping to win a Dazed 100 grant in order to encourage other girls who feel like outsiders to pick up their guitars, too.
How did you start doing the work you do, and what inspires it?
Beabadoobee: I went home one day and my dad had got me a guitar; he knew I was sad and had a lot of things on my brain that I had to let out and express. Elliott Smith really got me into writing tunes because his songs were so personal and made me want to do the same. Kimya Dawson has really honest lyrics, so honest that it sounds almost stupid but I love that about her.
“I went home one day and my dad had got me a guitar; he knew I was sad and had a lot of things on my brain that I had to let out and express” – Beabadoobee
What or who gives you hope and why?
Beabadoobee: The other women rocking out on stage like Soccer Mommy, Snail Mail and Clairo. It means that there are strong powerful women setting an example to all the girls out there that think they can’t do it.
What creative or philanthropic project would you work on with a grant from the Dazed 100 Ideas Fund?
Beabadoobee: I’d do a songwriting school of rock for girls – strictly girls. Help girls to come out of their shells and be badass as fuck. It’d be an opportunity to give something back to kids. Music and art really helped me get through school and some dark times, and it’s important for kids to have a safe space where they can express themselves and be with likeminded people.