Creative Review New Music
Having burst into the pop sphere barely a year ago, few burgeoning pop deities have had a quicker rise to fame than South African-born singer Baby Queen (Arabella Latham). Signing her record deal amid a pandemic, the artist has struck a chord with her online fanbase and continues to do so through her fiercely honest observations about mental health and playing with her persona. In her world honesty is her crown jewel; she has built the project around never shying away from topics that may be difficult or uncomfortable to broach.
We spoke to pop’s new anti-hero to get the lowdown on how her career has been given the fact it was kickstarted entering a pandemic.
Growing up in Durban, a small town in South Africa, Latham felt isolated from what she saw as the glitz and glamour of the music industry and touched on the cultural shock of moving to London. “It was the biggest cultural shock ever and I don’t recommend it for the faint-hearted,” she begins. “This is the hardest city in the world to survive in, make money in, and to keep your head above water in, and being in a ruthless cut-throat industry doesn’t make it any easier,” she openly admits. “Coming from a more relaxed place, you realise that when you’re in the UK, it’s every man for himself and you have to have your own back. It is really intense at times but, now, I do feel like London is my home.”
Bella has already racked up support from some of the biggest names in the industry like Courtney Love, who took to her Instagram to proclaim her love for the upcoming artist back in January. “What’s nuts to me is that Courtney has become a really good friend of mine now,” Latham expresses. “There are still moments when we are hanging out where I’m like whoa because it’s totally surreal. It means a lot to have support from people like her, whose taste I respect so deeply, and the fact that she likes my music is definitely going to my ego.”
For the incredible amount of buzz Baby Queen has received, the frustration of a global pandemic curtailing the chance to play live shows has her more excited for the return of live music. “I think performing is the most incredible feeling,” she exclaims. “It’s one of the times I find a true sense of freedom without having to get wasted. So yeah, I am looking forward to getting back to doing that,” she shares. “Part of being an artist is touring and I am yet to have that, I think it will enrich the experience of being an artist.”
With the hopes of life returning to normal pretty soon, Latham also commented on her predictions for the industry moving forward. “I don’t despair for the state of the industry but I don’t feel stunning about it either,” she admits. “I think that there’s so much of it now that is led by social media and I feel like the best time to be a musician was the ‘90s. That’s when people were making full records and the public were buying them on vinyl or CDs whereas now most things are just streamed on online services, and the artist doesn’t get much out of that,” she details. “There is too much of the industry that is social media-based now and there is less importance on the music which I hate. I think that we are only going to be heading more and more away from the importance of music and more towards everything else.”
Already racking up accolades, Baby Queen has dropped a steady slew of singles that place her at the forefront of a musical movement and have landed her slots on many of the UK’s biggest festival line-ups. “Being on so many festival lineups this year is so exciting but also really nerve-wracking,” Latham points out. “I think the shows and the stages are going to be a lot bigger than they would’ve been had we not been in lockdown,” she notes. “I am grateful for the chance to play all these shows, granted everything surrounding the pandemic settles in time, but I am going to walk out screaming at the amount of people there will be.”
By releasing her music under the Baby Queen moniker, the pop alter ego aimed to match her sound. “My real name felt wrong which is a weird thing to say. When I closed my eyes and listened to my music, the sound wasn’t asking for my real name,” she shares. “It was asking for something purple, light purple to be exact, and my real name didn’t feel right. I like the music to be the focal point and the thing that everything else is formed from so when I found Baby Queen in a sentence of a lyric book, it felt perfect and I knew I had to have it.”
For Bella, it has proven to be important for the music she makes to be fiercely honest and unflinchingly direct. “I feel like it’s difficult to create a Baby Queen song without that intense aspect of honesty,” she begins. “I feel like my instinct is to take something disturbing and painful and make it sound really beautiful and happy,” she continues. “I decided to chase that theme in all of my songwriting and to push the honesty to the point that it’s shocking and they’re the songs that people have had the best reactions to. I like the idea of making people feel uncomfortable in specific moments with how raw my lyrics are.”
The first of many eras to come, Baby Queen is ready to channel her own version of Sasha Fierce having already revealed that she’s working on her debut album. With more music to come, we’d recommend keeping your eyes on pop’s new anti-hero as it’s evident she’s only just begun.
Baby Queen’s single ‘Dover Beach’ is out now.