Baby Queen: "a lot of my music is social commentary"

Leonie Bellini chats with flourishing indie-pop musician Baby Queen about her recent mixtape, returning to live concerts and the necessity of the internet to her songwriting.

Leonie Bellini
28th September 2021
Hot on the heels of her five-star mixtape The Yearbook, I caught up with London's fastest rising indie popstar Baby Queen to talk songwriting, post-pandemic gigs, and the undeniable magic of the Internet.

Hey Bella! How does it feel to have this new body of work out in the world?

It feels amazing, man! The more stuff you release, the more dimensions of yourself you can share with other people. It kind of feels like the closing of one chapter and the beginning of a new one for me, and then you can focus on writing new stuff and moving into a new place creatively.

Ah! So are you working on new material at the moment?

Yeah! I’m working on wrapping the debut album up now! I feel like I’m missing like two good songs and then I’m done.

That’s so exciting! What’s the process of songwriting like for you?

I’ll usually get an idea or a word or a concept that excites me, it could be the name of a song – like I wanted to name a song ‘narcissist’, and then I built the concept around that. Usually, I’ll do everything alongside each other; I’ll have a track that’s quite repetitive so I can focus primarily on the lyric, something looping so I can sit there and focus.

Do you have any personal favourites from the upcoming tracks – or the newly released ones?

I was just speaking to the Baby Kingdom about this. I think my favourite songs are ‘Raw Thoughts’ and ‘Want Me’, and then ‘Buzzkill’ as well. And then the next one coming out is right up there.

They’re all bangers! Is there anything inspiration-wise that you draw from when you’re writing?

I think I’m very much inspired by my real-life experience, and by the internet and internet pop culture, how kids speak and the satire and the generational irony that we have and the humour in online communication. I’m very immersed in the internet and social media, I draw a lot of reference from it. Other than that, I just really like to be as honest as I can possibly can in my music. I try to dig a lot deeper into myself and a lot deeper into what it is I actually think and feel and perceive.

The internet is such a big part of our lives but some people are reluctant to draw from it as a creative resource because it’s seen as not valid or ‘proper’.

It’s absolutely everything, and we’re so intertwined with our identities online, it’s such an interesting time for social commentary. I think that’s what a lot of my music is: social commentary.

Does it feel cathartic to put these deeply personal songs out in the world?

It’s cathartic to release things that feel really personal and really obscure and have people validate those thoughts by saying that they can relate; you feel a lot less alone.

Rewinding back to lockdown, what was that time like for you creatively?

I think there were different areas during lockdown. The first lockdown I signed my record deal so I was lucky to be really busy from the get-go - I signed my record deal over Zoom! I was recording and finishing vocals, finishing that first body of work. I also love being alone. I think it was nice for me as a supportive and nurturing way to start a career, as opposed to being thrown out into the world immediately. Especially for an artist like me that writes about the things that I write about, lockdown was able to feed into a lot of those topics. I also started therapy during that time. I think a lot of people had more time to be able to look introspectively at their own selves and their own lives and what they want from life. I think I grew up a lot.

What was the experience like looking back on old tracks from this newer perspective?

‘Raw Thoughts’ was the first song I ever wrote that became a Baby Queen song. ‘You Shaped Hole’ also predates ‘Internet Religion’. I feel like music-wise the EP and the mixtape were all part of the same version of myself, it was just a choice about how the songs on the EP were more topical and the songs on the mixtape were more personal. And going back to those earlier songs and giving them a new lease of life was more of a production thing – and I’m a bit separate from that, once I write a song I think it’s done. But I think it’s great to have those stories be told from that time in my life even if they don’t feel relevant to where I am right now. It’s a little feeling of fulfilment when that song about that breakup that really hurt you back then comes out, but you weren’t in the position that I’m in now where you could actually release it and have it out in the world. It’s like you get to put your arm around that version of yourself.

A hug for baby Baby Queen! What’s it been like playing live shows after all this time?

It’s been insane! It’s beyond what I could have expected, the greatest feeling in the world. Overwhelming too and quite hard to stomach, and I’ve got the worst impostor syndrome - at all the festivals I had to keep leaving the artist area cos I felt like I didn’t belong there. It’s been super interesting but something I could do every day for the rest of my life.

It’s been lush seeing bands live again.

You really start to appreciate it. Like: I should’ve been going to gigs every day of the week!

What are you excited about coming up, aside from your debut album?

We’re going on tour with Sea Girls in November and then we have some headline shows coming up in London. And then we’ve got some more music coming out this year! It’s really exciting. You know how when a new year starts and you’re like ‘fuck, this is gonna be a really good year’ and then it’s shit! But I’m so hopeful for 2022.

Baby Queen’s The Yearbook mixtape is out now.
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