From ‘Coffee’ to Coachella: The Rise of beabadoobee

Elijah Shinnick, Staff Writer

April 19 is a special day for music fans in Pensacola. Vinyl Music Hall, tucked right in the middle of Downtown Pensacola, is housing musical artist beabadoobee for an already sold-out audience.

From being a best-kept secret a few years ago to now opening for the likes of Taylor Swift on the Eras Tour, beabadoobee’s rise in popularity is a remarkable feat that most could only wish for, and by the looks of it, her popularity will only continue to rise.

At only 22 years old, she’s already released a critically acclaimed album, had a sold-out UK tour and has even played at festivals like Coachella. This is quite the accomplishment when you realize that just a few years ago, she was just another girl in her bedroom not knowing who she wanted to become.

We’re lucky to be living in the times we are in now. With the Internet being readily available, allowing anyone to post their wonderful creations online, the chance of people discovering and falling in love with your work has never been higher.

We’re living in the age of the bedroom artist — singers and songwriters who get their start in front of screens before they perform to sold-out crowds in-person. Beabadoobee, whose real name is Bea Kristi, had a similar rise to fame.

Born in the Philippines but raised in North London, Kristi had your typical childhood, with days         spent playing the violin and other extracurricular activities. It wasn’t until her pre-teen years that feelings of alienation started to creep in. Being one of the few Filipinos at her all-girls Catholic school took a toll on her mentally, leading her to feel like an outcast.

Things continued to get worse for her. She eventually got kicked out of school, for a mix of bad grades and behavior, but those feelings and emotions grew and stirred up inside her. Without an outlet to express herself, her mental health worsened. She eventually found a group of “friends,” but given their negative influence and frequent drug use, it’s hard to say that they were the  group that Kristi needed.

That was her life for a few years, filling an endless hole with whatever might satisfy it at the moment. Her parents noticed her declining state, and that’s when her dad decided to buy her a gift  that would change the course of her life forever: a secondhand guitar.

With her violin experience, Kristi already had a decent grasp of music. In fact, she’d been surrounded by music her whole life. Her parents had a love for 90s rock, a love that she would eventually develop, so she began learning songs on her new instrument.

“Kiss Me” by Sixpence None the Richer was one of the first songs she learned. The more she played, the more she fell in love. Being now 17 and having time on her hands, she took her shot at putting out music.

Her name had to come first, and not being able to come up with one, she took her old finsta name, beabadoobee. And since she thought no one would ever listen, she ran with it. By the end of 2017, she’d have her first song out, and, to everyone’s surprise, it would prove to be her most popular.

“Coffee,” as it was called, had a similar chord progression to “Kiss Me” and was written for her then-boyfriend. The song is humble on all fronts, recorded in her friend’s bedroom and uploaded online. Kristi never imagined where the song would take her next.

She was signed to Dirty Hits Records just a year later, where she released two EPs, “Lice” and “Patched Up.” By 2019, Canadian rapper Powfu had sampled “Coffee” in his song “Death Bed (Coffee for Your Head),” and this is where Kristi’s career truly kicked off.

The song went viral. Online videos and TikToks with the song playing in the background were impossible to avoid. New people kept finding Kristi’s music, which led to “Coffee” having its own resurgence in popularity in 2020. It was nearly impossible to go a day without hearing Kristi’s soft vocals in the background of a social media video.

Even though she was still unsure of what sound she wanted to pursue, she had finally found an outlet to express her emotions. In a Guardian article from 2020, Kristi described who she wants to be: “I just want to be that girl I needed when I was 15 for someone, you know?”

In the past few years, she has only kept growing. Her biggest announcement was that she would be the opening act for multiple shows during the US leg of Taylor Swift’s The Eras Tour. Her 2022 album “Beatopia” was released to wide acclaim, and, in January of this year, she released “Glue Song,” which is slowly shaping up to become her new most popular song.

It’s hard to not be inspired by beabadoobee, her past and now her bright future. If anything, her story is one of encouragement. Perhaps all you need to do is publish, post or release that one thing you’ve been holding on to for a long time. She expected nothing, but look at her now. She     wanted to be a light for girls like her, and it’s safe to say she’s done just that.

Beabadoobee will perform at Vinyl Music Hall on April 19, and her next performance will be on April 21 in Houston as she opens for Taylor Swift.