Get To Know: Baby Queen
This week we introduce you to the Matty Healy-approved and self-proclaimed Taylor Swift stan Baby Queen, as she welcomes us to her anti-pop world…
South African artist Baby Queen, aka Bella Latham, is making “introspective intelligent anti-pop”, perfectly capturing life of the Gen-Z youth of today. Covering topics from mental health, to the general societal pressures on young people today, Baby Queen isn’t afraid of telling stories that aren’t just fairy tales.
Just three singles into her musical career, Baby Queen has already got a lot of buzz around her. One fan being no other than the alt-pop king himself, Matty Healy. The 1975 frontman dropped by on the set of the video for Baby Queen’s certified bop ‘Buzzkill’, and we’re not quite sure how Bella kept it together.
The kooky, grungy pop beats as the backdrop to her unfiltered and honestly cynical lyrics, create a bittersweet vibe to her music that only makes Baby Queen even more relatable and endearing, and we can’t wait to hear the rest of her EP later this year.
1) For those who don’t know about you and your music, tell us a little bit about who you are and where you’re from…
Hey! I'm Baby Queen, but my real name is Bella. I grew up in a city called Durban on the East Coast of South Africa and moved to London when I finished school at 18. Now I live in London and write really sad songs that sound really happy.
2) Describe your sound in three words…
Introspective intelligent anti-pop.
3) Who inspired you to start a career in music?
I was 13 when I walked into my living room in South Africa and Taylor Swift's 'Love Story' music video was playing on the television. I was mesmerised, and became really obsessed with the idea of a young girl writing her own songs and building an empire around them. I thought 'I can do that. I can write and tell stories better than I can do anything else.' It was quite hypnotising. I never ever looked back after that day. It's weird how vivid that memory is.
4) Who are your biggest musical influences?
Taylor, obviously! I listened to a lot of Fleetwood Mac growing up - it's still my favourite band. People in the taste-maker industry always talk down on Coldplay, but I used to listen to the band religiously as a kid and I don't think anybody can craft a hit record like Chris Martin. My mum is a huge Earth, Wind and Fire fan, so I used to hear them a lot growing up. I guess it's an amalgamation of everything that influences you before you start writing.
5) Tell us about the writing and recording process for your new single/album…
We're releasing an EP this year made up of six songs that were written at different times under different circumstances, but each one somehow narrates the struggles of growing up in the world as we know it now. Some of the songs like 'Medicine' and 'Pretty Girl Lie' were actually written during lockdown, which is pretty crazy. For most of them I wrote the lyrics and general first drafts of the songs at home, and later took them into the studio to my producer King Ed who constantly pushes me to better my ideas. He's been my creative partner since this all began. He is a genius and an incredible drummer. I think our individual strengths really shaped what has become the sound of Baby Queen; a very strong rhythmical base with highly developed lyrics.
6) What can we expect from your live shows?
I've actually been in rehearsals for live shows this past week, and the world has no freaking idea what's coming for it. I think above all else, the set just feels really strong. There isn't a moment where I feel like we're going to lose the attention of an audience. It's really energetic from start to finish so I think it's going to POP OFF, for lack of a better phrase.
7) What has been your biggest career highlight so far?
This is a tricky one! I actually haven't been able to play live since I signed to Polydor because of coronavirus, so I can't really see the people that my music is reaching. I think my favourite experiences have been shooting the music videos. I shot the first one at home during lockdown so I had no idea what to expect when I got to the set of the 'Buzzkill' music video. It was one of those "what the f**k" moments. I couldn't believe that so many people were there for me and the set was so big. The videos are what I look forward to the most. They are real pinch-myself moments that make me question how the hell I got here.
8) Have you met anyone and been totally starstruck?
Matty Healy came to the 'Buzzkill' music video set. I was really terrified, but I think I managed to keep it together…? He might think differently! That was a really surreal moment for me. I think him and Taylor are the really big ones for me.
9) What’s on your playlists that people wouldn’t expect?
I listen to really, really sad, introspective music. I like to make myself sad. I like to look out the window of the car and think about the meaning of life. Haha! I'm listening to a band called Palace a lot at the moment. They released a record called 'After Life' last year which is brilliant. In general, I listen to a lot of taste-maker music. I worked at Rough Trade record store for a year before I signed, and my whole life was focused around new music and new artists breaking through the scene. I got really into Little Simz, Fontaines D.C and Cate Le Bon last year because they had the leading records in 2019. I don't really listen to pop at all anymore - the lyrics generally aren't good enough.
10) When can we see you live?
OMG! I'm asking the same question!!! And I think the answer is that there is no answer at the moment. Everything is really up in the air in the live scene right now. I don't know when we'll be able to play in front of a live crowd, but we're definitely going to plan some live-streams over the coming months. As soon as I can get in front of a live crowd, I hope you'll be able to see me all the time I promise!