Talking lyrics and festivals with Baby Queen

  

Every so often you come across an artist who is unapologetically themselves. Baby Queen is that. With a creative vision that is intentional and authentic, South-African born Bella Latham is pushing her own “anti-pop” genre forward without compromise.

With her grunge-pop sound and intricate lyrics that never miss, Baby Queen is set to become a huge headline act. Expect to become obsessed with this rockstar very soon as she makes her royal debut on the festival circuit later this year.

Photo by Clark Franklyn

Is Baby Queen an alter ego? Or are you and Baby Queen the same person? 

You know, honestly, I’m still figuring myself out… I’m having an identity crisis! I sometimes joke around with my friends and say, “I can’t believe I did that – that was so Baby Queen of me.” Baby Queen is drawn from elements of myself that already exist. And then those parts of myself are amplified, so it’s just more of a show. That’s what Baby Queen feels like to me.

You described 2020’s Medicine EP as the ‘introduction’ to Baby Queen, sharing your points and beliefs on the world. Do you find it harder to write about social commentary, or personal experience?

When you’re writing about a subject matter, I’m very much – I suppose I’m like this with every kind of song – but I want to make sure the entire song encapsulates everything that I think about that subject, so I have quite a structured, regimented way of writing. Whereas when it’s a more personal story, there’s more sort of freedom in where you take a song and where you go lyrically. But, it’s pretty much the same thing, I find lyric writing to be a massive ballache, because it takes me so long, so both of them are just as horrible as each other!

Following the release of Medicine, you felt you had the freedom to write love songs without someone thinking you are vapid and shallow – Is this something that you are still conscious of?

Yeah, I think so. When I first went into the studio to create this music, I was saying to my producer, I am not a pop artist. I’m an indie alternative artist. I do not make pop music. I will never make pop music. And then I made pop music! So I think, you know, I’m definitely scared of pop. I definitely find it quite daunting. Because I know what I’ve thought of it for so long.

Is that why your sound leans more “anti-pop”?  

I hope so. Over the past few years I think the standards of pop music have dropped, as far as creating art goes. I’m really scared that people are going to think that I want to be a popstar. Basically, I wanna be a rockstar.

The lyrics on ‘Raw Thoughts’, ‘These Drugs and ‘Dover Beach’ are deeply personal. How easy is it for you to be open, did it take a long time to lean into that vulnerability?

It’s not hard for me at all, it’s a strange thing. I feel like I’ve become quite an honest person in myself. So I’m one of those people that will just meet someone for the first time and be incredibly honest with them about loads of stuff. I’ve never ever found it hard to access difficult emotions inside myself, it’s more the actual process of finding the syllables and words that’s painstaking.  

These Drugs’ talks candidly about substance abuse. How did it feel to put that song out into the world?

That song was a song that I really needed to write and I needed it to be uncomfortably honest. And I knew when I wrote it, I could feel the lyrical and emotional intensity in it. I said at the time that I was worried about putting it out, which I shouldn’t have been – I shouldn’t have been nervous of my label, or nervous to put a song out, because it’s been really, really important. It hasn’t been one of our big songs, but it has been a song that has helped people because, you know, something like abusing a substance – whatever substance or feeling that is – part of learning to love yourself is learning to accept every part of yourself. I’ve sort of detached from it now to a certain degree so when it comes on I’m not like, ‘oh God – it’s a song about drugs’.

I’m obsessed with the lyric “If you saw me through the eyes of a bathroom stall, your skin would crawl”. If we were in a bathroom stall on a night out, and you were giving me your best life advice, what would that be? 

My bathroom stall advice would be to be fiercely, fiercely true to who you really are on the inside, and to challenge yourself always to get closer and closer to the authentic version of yourself, because that’s where all of your success comes from, your authenticity, and the things that make you different from everyone else. So I would say, spend your life trying to get closer and closer to your true self.

I can’t wait to see you make your royal debut on the festival circuit this year. What can we expect from a Baby Queen set?

Ahhh, it’s going to bang. It’s a set that starts and just drives the whole way through. My songs are really big songs, musically and instrumentally. ‘Want Me’ and ‘Raw Thoughts’ live, ah!, it’s going to be so amazing to play those songs with my band and in front of a crowd and feel the energy! I’m ready.

Catch Baby Queen at a number of festivals across the UK this year including:

July 2021 – Standon Calling – Standon
July 2021 – Truck Festival – Steventon
July 2021 – Tramlines – Sheffield
August 2021 – Reading and Leeds – Reading/Leeds
September 2021 – TRNSMT Festival – Glasgow

Stream Baby Queen below and follow our playlist to hear more new music from 2021’s essential new artists.