Prior to her Manchester show at Academy 2 last week, pop sensation Baby Queen spoke to MM about the new perspective she’s bringing to the music industry.
Loneliness, depression, body dysmorphia and occasional drug use are not topics you’d normally associate with the words baby or queen.
However, 25-year old Bella Latham is on a mission to give these important issues the spotlight.
Under the guise of Baby Queen she has created a “best friend” relationship with her fans through her relatable songs.
“I write really honest things,” she says. “Sometimes in a satirical way, sometimes cloaked in humour, but it’s mostly just complex feelings and thoughts put in a very understandable way.”
Originally from South Africa, Bella has been writing her own music since the age of ten, and travelled to the UK in 2015 – securing her record deal in 2020.
Her initial releases Medicine and The Yearbook articulately addressed difficult issues the younger generation care about, tackling a wide range of emotions.
She adds: “Baby Queen was never meant to be this incredibly relatable thing [but] I recognise that it is.”
The name comes from a slight feeling of imposter syndrome – she explains the lyrics didn’t feel right when attributed to her real name, leading her to create the alternate persona. Her signature colour has been there from the start as well.
She says: “The music just felt so rich in character and intent and it also felt like it was the colour lilac purple to me at the time.
“It’s this dichotomy between something very childish and something very regal [alongside] a lot of innocence, experience, sweetness and chaos, all existing in the same place at once.”
Her debut album Quarter Life Crisis was released last Friday and fans have instantly fallen in love with the new collection of songs – it is currently set to debut at number seven in the UK Album Charts.
While mid-life crisis is a term many will have heard of before, a quarter-life crisis is very much a new phenomenon.
That’s why Bella’s mission is to shed a light on young people’s transition into adulthood, using her own trials and tribulations as inspiration.
“I wanted to make sure that the overriding vibe of the album leaves people feeling hopeful,” she says.
“Life is chaotic and terrifying and awful, but it is also an amazing thing – there’s so much beauty and magic in it as well.”
Creating such a well thought-out record was not a straightforward process, because of both her own high standards and the pressures of having released so much music prior to her first album.
She explains: “Because I’ve had so much music out before, I really felt like I was almost making a second album.
“I really struggled through the whole thing because I’m very obsessive and such a perfectionist.”
Although she had toured as a support act before, Bella has thrived as headline act in a series of intimate shows on her debut solo tour.
“Support tour is this insane thing because you’re playing to crowds that you wouldn’t ordinarily be able to play for – that is incredible in its own right,” she says.
“But there’s something very special about being [with] your fans, your show and having people come there to see you.”
Even if you don’t recognise the name Baby Queen, you may well have heard her music in season two of Netflix’s Heartstopper – and her early releases received notable support from Radio One.
Her music fits like a glove into Heartstopper, an LGBTQ+ drama about teen friendships and young romance.
“I’m so happy this is something that young people have, and I wish that I’d had something like this growing up,” she says.
Bella has skilfully built a catalogue of relatable pop music, deemed ‘anti-pop’ in an effort to challenge preconceived norms by creating songs with a deeper meaning.
Her close relationship with her fanbase – the ‘Baby Kingdom’ – is something she is looking to explore further, and writing albums is the medium she feels is best to do that in.
But first, with dates in the Republic of Ireland and the US ahead of her after touring 12 venues across the UK, she thoroughly deserves a break – not that she’ll be entirely off duty.
“I want to spend some time over in the US, get a change of scenery and live my life a little bit – because otherwise you have nothing to write about.”
Featured image courtesy of Chuff Media