“I didn’t think that Stonehenge existed” isn’t the sort of insider info I ever anticipated finding when I found out I’d have the chance to interview Baby Queen, one of the most exciting rising artists in the country and veteran Cub Reviewee. As it is, a touch of almost-inconvenient timing meant I was sat atop the Salisbury Plains when my chance arrived. With a recent string of incredible singles and all signs pointing towards even more incredible new music coming throughout the year, the mythos of Baby Queen seemed more enrapturing than ancient monuments and druidic energies…
Fin: Dover Beach just dropped a couple of weeks ago – and it’s a masterful upbeat yet depressing pop banger – what can you tell us about it?
Baby Queen: It’s a song that I wrote – I went to visit Dover because I needed to go and write some music and I remembered Dover very distinctly and with fond memories from a poem that I read in school called ‘Dover Beach’ by Mathew Arnold and it was this really beautiful description of Dover beach. I went down there to write poems on the beach by myself. I had a massive crush on someone at the time and was just seeing mirages of them everywhere, so the songs essentially saying I came here to look at the beach and instead I’m seeing you, you dick! It’s definitely got that intense melancholy because it was written at the place that has that sort of magical energy. I think being there and making it in the moment really pushed me to that.
F: What was it like releasing Dover Beach? About 336 days ago internet religion dropped – how does the whole process differ to back then?
BQ: It’s different now releasing music. Once you have people that follow your music and listen to it and are waiting for the next step to come out and are super excited about it, you live through that song again through their excitement. You get to almost hear it for the first time with them. What’s nice about dover beach is that I wrote that song when I was just getting close with the Baby Kingdom (the collective name for Baby Queen’s fans) and the people who were listening to what I was doing, so they were there, I was talking to them on facetime during the days I was working on that song and they’re now here to come full circle and hear it. It feels more triumphant in that way, and more exciting because I’ve been on that journey with the Baby Kingdom.
F: While we’re looking backwards, you’ve been in the UK for about five years now. How do you go from flying in at 18 with a very well-hidden body of work from before to this?
BQ: You know what, the honest answer to that question is I have no idea how I did it. I think I’ve got a pretty good blueprint now that I could give to an artist who wants to do it, because I know like what I did, it’s still just really weird that it worked out. For so long it doesn’t work out, it’s so bad and you’re so broke and so depressed, and then from one day, suddenly you’re not any of those things anymore. It’s crazy, it takes a lot of dedication and a lot of drive and in the most crazy and psychotic way continuing to pick yourself up when you’ve been smashed down and beaten on the ground. It’s like blind faith – you just continue to do it because there’s no option to ever walk away from it. But how did I do that? I don’t know, I wrote songs, that’s it. That’s the most important thing that anyone can ever do, just get better, write better songs.
F: And I mean, it’s definitely worked. The whole path so far has been pretty incredible, and you’ve had some pretty major shout outs including ‘hottest record in the world’ for Dover Beach. What’s the most surreal thing that’s happened since this all began?
BQ: Yeah… the most surreal thing is probably being friends with Courtney Love. That was something that I didn’t expect in my life. That’s really cool and being able to get advice from somebody who’s been through it and just to be in a position where I’m so enriched by someone’s story and experiences and their music library and all that, that’s been the most surreal thing. It’s just sorta like, that’s rock and roll history man, so yeah that was crazy.
F: Your recent releases, I guess kinda since want me, have been so much more inwards looking than societal like the first singles. Has this been a conscious shift in what you’re writing?
BQ: I think it was half conscious and half not conscious. I think in the beginning it was very clear that the first songs that came out needed to be songs that were statements of intent, in that this is what I stand for as an artist, this is what you can expect me to write like, this is the synopsis of my brain. It’s harder to set those pillars with love songs, I think I definitely wanted to set the precedent of a bunch of my core beliefs. I also wasn’t writing about love at the time. I was going through a period where I was incredibly observational, I’d gone through a breakup, but it was more at the tail end of it, so I was just observing things around me and being miserable. The things that I’ve been writing about have shifted, but there was a certain degree of intent in putting out more opinionated songs first.
F: With the new sort of tone, we’ve had a consistent aesthetic for the three singles this year… are you allowed to say anything about that?
BQ: I mean, I think it’s all gonna make sense in a few weeks’ time. It hasn’t made complete sense until now, which I can’t do anything about, but when it does make sense, it’ll make sense. There’s a few more characters that everyone’s gonna meet which is exciting, and I feel like I just can’t wait for people to see what the actual vision is because I still feel like a twat, that everyone’s like ‘what is she doing’.
F: With an eye to the future, you’ve got your second and third ever live (headline) shows coming up in November, what’s the feeling with that?
BQ: I am just super excited. I’m super excited to meet the people that have been listening to my music because it’s been a long time of only knowing them online, and being able to see their faces and getting to hug them and have actual conversations, I cannot wait for that. It’s a little bit scary, I was saying to a bunch of people that I think I’m walking out onto much bigger stages than I would’ve been had we not been put into lockdown. It’s gonna be scary and exciting, and I’m really excited to get into live shows because I think it’s such an important part of the job that I’ve completely missed.
F: Back to songs, something I think makes them such hits is the lyricism – they’re incredibly relatable, like even my dad has been saying that he relates to a lot of it, plus the vocabulary is incredible, like who else is using words like ‘labyrinthine’. How much of a process is writing the lyrics, does it just come naturally or is there a load of refining?
BQ: there’s lots of it that comes naturally – I am a natural writer, that’s the one thing in my whole life that if there was one thing I know I can do it’s put words in the right place and use words. Words are like, my thing. So yeah, it does come naturally, but the way that I write is incredible. I’m such a perfectionist with the words, the way they fit, the syllables, the way they flow, and the way that they paint a picture – it’s just an exhausting, strenuous process. I find the process of writing music – writing music is so fucking fun, writing lyrics is real blood, sweat, and tears for me. it’s a thing that drives me insane, but you know, we get there in the end.
So there you have it. While I can’t pass on the guide to pop success, I can pass on a strong suggestion that you pick up tickets to see Baby Queen at Omeara in November, with tickets still available for the show on the 11th as I type. I can’t imagine she’s going to be staying at playing venues that small for long…