As far as these things go, Beabadoobee has had a pretty good year. With two EPs and a string of bangers under her belt in the last twelve months alone, 2019 has also seen her play her first US shows and received the blessing of Saint Matty Healy anointing her as the next big thing. On top of all that, she's muscled her way into our Hype List. Is there any higher honour in music? Not as far as we're concerned.
It hasn't been easy getting here, though. The thing is, a year like Beabadoobee's 2019 doesn't leave much space for downtime. Even now, on the slow creep towards Christmas, the artist otherwise known as Bea Kristi speaks to us from the back of her tour bus as it pushes on through Florida, several days after she played her first Los Angeles show with Clairo. Here at Dork, we don't tend to play armchair psychiatrist and say 'but how are you really'… but how is she really?
"It's been a bit of a rollercoaster because I've had school and that. Balancing it was really hard. I had my head telling me to fuckin' revise, but then also I have like five guitars in my room, and what am I gonna do with that? If I see a guitar I'm obviously going to fucking play it," she says down a patchy phone line.
"It was intense, but I'm glad I'm out of it."
Does it count as procrastination if you put off one important thing to absolutely smash it at some other, just as important thing? While the student part of her brain might not have thanked her, Bea's guitar-based distraction culminated this year in a pair of cracking EPs. The first of these, 'Loveworm', saw Beabadoobee heading in a more indie-rock direction than previous releases, as she examined the intricacies of her relationship with boyfriend Soren.
'Loveworm', while a heavy-hitter in its own right with tunes like 'You Lie All The Time' and the tender closer 'Soren', was also a stylistic bridge to Beabadoobee's second EP of 2019, 'Space Cadet'. With the latter, she feels that she has arrived at a natural peak.
'"I guess it's a new direction to people who listen to the music, but for the people who know me, they've always known that I love that type of music. I've always liked music that sounds like the music off 'Space Cadet'. It almost wouldn't have made sense if I didn't make 'Space Cadet'," she says.
The fact that her musical homecoming has resonated with audiences is a nice bonus, but for Bea, it pales in comparison to her own excitement around the EP.
"I was so excited just to be making music like that, and it's honestly one of my favourite things I've ever released," she says.
It would be difficult to pick a clear standout on 'Space Cadet', but the spiritual centrepiece from which the rest of the release pulls its aesthetic is arguably 'I Wish I Was Stephen Malkmus'. Part furious bedroom-sulk, part pledge of undying allegiance to Pavement, like the Space Cadet EP as a whole '... Stephen Malkmus' is characterised by wonky 90s guitar and insanely catchy hooks. It's stroppy and rebellious, but also furiously free and full of love for an era and an icon that Beabadoobee has been undeniably shaped by.
"I was in my room, and there was a family party going on downstairs, and I was just angry," says Bea. "So I was listening to Pavement, just fucking angry, and I was like, 'fuck this, I'm gonna write a song about Stephen Malkmus'. Kind of about Stephen Malkmus, more about myself, but very inspired by Stephen Malkmus. Because he is a legend."
Not long after the song was released, Real Life Stephen Malkmus heard Indie Bop Stephen Malkmus, and a Beabadoobee-Malkmus multiverse was born.
"It was insane," she exclaims. "I went from going to my room and obsessing over a band for such a long time, talking about them, thinking about them, listening to them constantly, to meeting him and meeting his kids and hearing about how they hang out with frickin' Kim Gordon. I'm like, are you kidding me? This is crazy."
"His kids were playing on the tour bus, and he was asking what artists we like, and I said I really like Sonic Youth 'cause Kim Gordon's such a badass, and his kid was like, 'oh we were just at her house playing with her dog!'"
She laughs. "I was like, 'you have no idea how much I want to be you'."
Extremely badass female bass players are something of a theme on 'Space Cadet'. The first single, in fact, is the conveniently titled 'She Plays Bass'.
"'She Plays Bass' is about my best friend Eliana who I care about a lot. It's not a love song, it's just two best friends that are literally obsessed with each other," Bea explains. "I love her. And she's like, rocking a bass."
Beabadoobee thinks about this phenomenon for a second.
"There are loads of sick female bass players. Suzi Quatro? Amazing. Kim Gordon! Amazing. See, there are all just badass bitches on bass."
Who are we to argue with that? 'She Plays Bass' is a suitably sick song, a tribute to intimate friendships with a tongue-in-cheek nod to the questions from others they inevitably raise ("pretty shit we could never date").
A lighthearted obsession runs throughout 'Space Cadet' - and 'Loveworm', for that matter, as well as many of Bea's other songs - and doesn't seem like it's about to let up any time soon. So what is Beabadoobee obsessed with going into 2020? How about America's dad, Tom Hanks? Next year, her totally serious goal is to meet him.
"That's the thing because now I've made a song called Stephen Malkmus and then I met the guy, if I just keep writing songs about people I want to meet then, you know, this shit could happen. This can be a thing," she says.
"Like, I'm like -" she breaks into a sea-shanty style melody - "'I really want to meet Tom Hanks!' and then I meet Tom Hanks. I've already spoken about him. I've talked to him... well, he hasn't talked back, but I've DM'd him, DM'd his wife, I've gone out of my way to meet this man.
"So it would just be way obsessive if I wrote a song about Tom Hanks. Like, everyone would expect that, so I guess I just have to leave it to fate. You know?''
Tom Hanks, if you're out there, you know what to do. Don't let Stephen Malkmus take all the glory.
Taken from the December 2019 / January 2020 issue of Dork, out now - order your copy below.
Featuring Girl in Red, Inhaler, Beabadoobee, Blaenavon and more.