Today, Bea Kristi is having the kind of problem only a Gen-Z rockstar could face. For an important upcoming studio session, the 22-year-old songwriter, who performs under the lowercase girl moniker beabadoobee, agreed to cover a “really popular song” — specifically one that’s currently performing well on pop radio charts. “But me and my guitarist never listen to the radio! We don’t know any of these songs,” she says. In the end, Kristi notes, it was probably the ever-optimizing streaming algorithm that killed the radio star.
“We just kind of left it — we’ve been so busy since we got back from tour, so we’ve had no time to listen to the song or practice it, and this is kind of a big deal. And it’s tomorrow!” says Kristi, who is calling from her West London home in between other press appointments around the promotion of her sophomore studio album, Beatopia, out today. “I just don’t know what the fuck I’m doing, honestly. It’s been keeping me up at night, I can’t lie.”
But Kristi’s laissez-faire mindset has yet to steer her wrong: Allowing rapper-producer Powfu to sample her first song “coffee” led to a bonafide TikTok hit in 2020, which acted as a catalyst for her nascent career, putting her on several international charts as well as the radars of a legion of newly proselytized TikTok users. Under the username @gnocchi500, her presence on the platform is playful, casual, and as coolly confessional as her lyrics. Beatopia, the follow-up to Kristi’s intimate 12-track studio debut, Fake It Flowers, doesn’t skimp on the revelations either: “You’re just a warm body to hold / At night when I’m feeling all alone” she sings on the staticky, punk guitar-driven “10:36.”
The project, Kristi says, is also the result of years of therapy, processing past traumas and difficult relationships. Beatopia was originally an escape, an imaginary reality envisioned by an isolated child. “The album is really a less conceptual version of what it was when I was 7, feelings that I had to dig out and find, and finally accept,” she says. The Beatopia songs she feels most connected to at the moment are the ones helping her through the end of a recent seven-year relationship. “Breakups are always really fucking tough, especially when they happen out of the blue, and people are saying things that aren’t necessarily true on your subreddit,” she says.
Here, Kristi checks in with Vulture about weathering the split and what comes after it, releasing Beatopia, working with PinkPantheress, and the highlights of her very first Glastonbury trip.
Beatopia is a concept you’ve been dreaming about since you were little. How does it feel to share that private world in such a public way?
It’s always going to be an overwhelming feeling, bringing something so personal in your life out into the open for the world to hear. All the songs I’d written in Beatopia were about things I felt at the very moment I was writing them, which I’d never really done before. I would always talk about the past and how I felt about the past, but I feel like it’s going to continue to be relatable to me till I’m like 80. So that kind of limits the intensity of it.
You’ve said before that Beatopia is hard to explain but that it “sounds very 2006.” What comes to mind for you when you picture that year?
I was about 6 years old, so not much. But I was very into Songs About Jane. I remember having that record constantly playing in my dad’s car.
The influences in your discography have tended toward the ’90s, but who were the artists you were feeling the most kinship with on this record?
The Sundays and the Cardigans will always be some of my biggest inspirations. But I was getting really into this band called Cibo Matto when I was writing this album. Also the Chemical Brothers, Stars, and Broken Social Scene.
We can talk as much or as little about this as you like, but obviously this very personal album release is coinciding with the breakup of a long-term relationship in your life. How are you navigating that right now?
It really made me focus on the music I’d written about this person. Finding new ways to interpret it, dedicating it to other people I love and dedicating it to myself. But music is always open to interpretation. “Don’t get the deal” and “Ripples” are my favorite Beatopia songs right now: In no way did I write those thinking I was going to be broken up with, but I can listen to those songs and feel like this is the most relatable thing in my life right now.
You’ve been quite open online about your relationship in the past, but I imagine that’s something you want to change going forward.
One thousand percent. When I last made that decision I was excited and in love and stupid and 15 years old! No boy had ever liked me, ever. I thought he was going to be the only person that would love me, the only person that would care, and a lot of that changed. I grew up and shit happened. “Open relationships” that everyone says were my idea. Of course, all that stuff will go into the songs I write about it, and people listen to them and have different interpretations of them. But I’m going to keep everything much more private, and people can think whatever they want to about the new songs I’m writing. [Laughs.] Because I’ve been writing a lot of songs. So it’s definitely going to change, but the music is not. I’m still going to mouth-vomit everything I feel.
How are you feeling about TikTok right now? When does it get toxic for you?
When you’re just endlessly scrolling. I definitely went through a phase of that when I first downloaded it, but that was all I did. In terms of being a musician, I think it’s completely fair that artists are increasingly catering their music to TikTok audiences. But there’s a difference between making a song and thinking, “I’m going to promote it on TikTok, I reckon it might do well on there,” and “Oh, we need to get to the chorus 30 seconds earlier. And it needs to be this specific length so it can be a ‘TikTok song.’” That’s when it gets a bit fucked up.
You have a number of collaborators on this album, including the famously elusive Pink Pantheress on “tinkerbell is overrated.” Tell me a bit about when you first met.
We were just in the studio together, and got to know each other. We actually made a song together, but that’s not the one coming out. We’re around the same age and around in the same scene, so it was kind of inevitable. But I had known about her for a bit, and it was nice knowing that we were both into each other’s music. Her melody lines are so recognizable and so unique. I love spending time with her. She came to my birthday this year, and that was really lovely.
What did you do for your birthday?
I just got really fucked up.
At one point in your career, you said you were “subsisting on cigarettes and Pringles” — what are you eating/drinking/smoking these days to keep yourself going?
I think it’s fair to say I’m in a little bit of a post-breakup phase where I’m smoking a lot of cigarettes and drinking wine. I haven’t been smoking weed as much as I did before — as much as I loved it, I think it was just too much at times. So I’ve been cutting down, and just smoking it occasionally before I go to bed. I’m trying to stop smoking, but I’m also just allowing myself to go through this bump. I just love white wine all of a sudden. What the fuck?
You’ve been opening for Halsey on her Love and Power Tour. What’s touring again been like?
It’s a mixture. It’s been really lovely playing shows that are that large. Even though they’re support shows, it’s a crazy opportunity to share your music. I thought it was so cool that her whole touring group was all women and female-led bands. It’s a great thing to be a part of. But I’m not going to sugarcoat it: Being away from home has always been really difficult for me, because I get homesick and all my friends are in London, so I get really fucking depressed on tour. Like, it’s probably the saddest I ever am. But I’m getting used to it.
And you performed at your first Glastonbury last month. What were the highlights of that experience for you?
Well, playing my show there was wild. It was the most amazing experience and one I’m so grateful for. I can’t believe I’ve managed to do that in my career — I didn’t think that was ever going to happen. I was walking through the crowd during Paul McCartney when he started singing “Blackbird” and everyone just stopped what they were doing and just, like, cried. And being really pinged off my nut during Jamie T. That was insane.