When Beatrice Laus (aka the popular songwriter and performer beabadoobee) was first thinking about what her life might look like professionally, she didn’t consider being a global pop star. Who would ever assume something like that could happen? Instead, she wanted to be a nursery school teacher. Bea loved the idea that she could be the first person for young children to learn from outside of their homes and help explain to them what the world was all about. She would teach them about music and culture. “Just the very basic stuff,” she says, just to help them get on their first feet.
Videos by American Songwriter
Bea on her latest LP, Beatopia
But as a burgeoning pop star—one who travels by giant, spaceship-like tour bus—Bea has taken on a different role, although it’s not so far off from her original hope. These days, as she prepares to unleash her latest LP, Beatopia, on July 15, Bea remains a guide for those around her.
“This was never really the plan,” says Bea of her big-name career. “I love being able to perform, I love playing. I’m honestly grateful, but I had no idea. I thought I really wanted to be a nursery teacher. I just love the idea that I could be that person, the first person that a kid has to introduce them to life and what the real world is.”
On the innocence of children and her Filipino background
For the Philippines-born U.K. native, the role would have been to bridge the gap between the innocence young kids have inherently and the often hard-to-deal-with real-life world. And in turn, Bea would also be able to learn from the kids. To be around that wide-eyed openness. That, she says, would be a boon to her.
“What children have is so innocent and their view of the world is so innocent,” she says. “I feel the more I’m with them, the more I’d have that essence. With music, it feels a bit like that, too. Especially when girls come up to me who are Filipino who say I’ve inspired them to pick up an electric guitar and do what they love. I don’t think it’s my duty to, but when it happens and someone says that to me, it makes it so much more worthwhile.”
Moving to London
Bea, who moved to London from the Philippines at 3 years old with her family, remembers first being exposed to music in a real way around the age of 5. Her mother would play bands like the Cranberries “all the time,” as well as Alanis Morissette and “loads” of other female artists. Soon, music began to feel like therapy. First, she played violin for about seven years. Then at 17 years old, after she was kicked out of school, she began to play guitar. She wanted a hobby and her father wanted to make sure she had one, too—something to keep her occupied. So, she began to play a six-string and write.
“I was going through a lot,” Bea says. “Coming to terms with a lot of things that happened in my past. I was trying to be able to write it all down and make sense of all my feelings.”
Getting kicked out of school
Bea says she was kicked out of school for no good reason. While she admits she was at times badly behaved, she also wasn’t “the worst student in the world.” She was kicked out of school with a number of other girls, all of whom were people of color, Bea says. Girls who weren’t as rich as the others around her. The school decided to reverse its decision after one of the mothers threatened to sue. But Bea had already found another school, one that was more accepting. The whole ordeal, though, made her feel discouraged and alienated. Thankfully, music helped. Playing violin at first aided her guitar acumen. And success would quickly follow. Bea released her first single, “Coffee,” in 2017, and her career began to take off. She followed that up with five different EPs from 2018-2021.
“All those different sounds I had explored were all necessary to find my sound now,” Bea says. “In no way am I saying my sound now is my sound forever. I’m always going to evolve. But they definitely played a part in my maturing and learning about music.”
“It’s a way of writing my feelings down on paper and actually being able to communicate,” she says. “It is really helpful.”
Hitting 5 billion streams
When it comes to her success today, Bea says she doesn’t think about it too much. She says it’s hard to conceptualize big numbers—like 5 billion total streams. At times, she says, being oblivious can be helpful and work in her favor. But the artist has given a lot of thought to her new album, Beatopia. She remembers coming up with the concept as a kid, drawing it out on a poster, only to later see that poster hung up and ridiculed by her classmates and teacher. With that, she let the idea go—this thought of a safe space called Beatopia—only more recently to return to it.
“I finally felt like I was comfortable enough to revisit it,” she says.
The new album is rich and full with catchy rock songs as well as ethereal pop numbers (including the guitar-driven “Talk”). It’s an example of a meteoric talent who knows she can’t stay in any one place for too long. And now that it’s done, she’s massively proud of it, she says.
Now as the future continues to unfold for the 22-year-old musician, what matters most is the chance to write whatever she feels. To be free. And while there is pressure on her as fans look to her for her perspective, she knows she still has to allow herself to fail and forgive those errors. It’s all part of her necessary growth: Even role models make mistakes.
“What I love most about music,” she says, “is being able to do whatever the fuck you want. To write about anything you want and make anything you want. It’s your rules.”
Photo credit Erika Kamano