You may not have heard Baby Queen’s music before, but you sure will soon so get ready for it!
Originally from Durban in South Africa, Bella Latham (a.k.a Baby Queen) found her escape in music at a young age when her mum gifted her a guitar and a piano, which she gradually learned along with the bass, ukulele, banjo and even a bit of drums. The young girl who used to want to be a game ranger in the African wild soon found herself the new dream of making it in the music industry. Looking up to Taylor Swift, she started writing her own songs and recording them at the age of 13. Her dad helped her distribute some demo tapes in Cape Town before she started posting them online at 15. She says she used to sing cheesy pop music in an American accent because ‘there was no pop music on the radio where people sang in a South African accent.’
In order to find out who she really was, Bella moved to London when she was 18 and enrolled in a music course at a North London college and eventually joined a rock band. She started going to a lot of parties in the fashion scene and sharing the world of Instagram influencers in which she felt completely see-through and like she did not matter. She went back to South Africa for a month after she got her heart broken by her ex-girlfriend and left the band because she realized she had become distracted from her original goal.
She then moved back to London and started hitting the studio with producer King Ed three times a week to write satirical alt-pop songs about what she had experienced before she left and how it changed her. “I got obsessed with these identities that we cultivate online; the front stage self and the backstage self, who you actually are and who you pretend to be.” She started writing yawny guitar-pop songs about the superficiality she witnessed, songs that she characterised as “light purple”. It was around that time that she came up with her stage name. “I felt like that person, Baby Queen, is everything that I ever wanted to be,” she explains. “A lot of what I’m saying [in my songs] is totally so childish and immature, and naive, but also experienced and teen angst and Generation Z. I was like, this is a baby. And this is a queen. Once I’d given myself that name, the sense of identity was overwhelming. I felt like now I could really say something.” While her sound remained rooted in pop, her lyricism became a little more complex, inspired by the artists she had become a fan of since moving to the UK (Little Simz, Kate Tempest and Matty Healy (The 1975)), and her music can now be described as soft grunge.
From all these writing sessions, she came up with her debut single for Polydor, “Internet Religion”, which came out on May 29, 2020. It’s a pop satire that overflows with psychedelic synth shimmers, echoing vocal stabs and lyrics that cut right to the heart of an extremely online generation: “This is my internet obsession/ This is why the kids have got depression”. Bella says she wrote this song because she hates “the way that social media affects our opinion of ourselves. I hate the way that it is so easy to control your identity online, and you become so obsessed with who you are online and how many people are liking your pictures, that you probably pretty much don’t actually give a shit about anything else.” She adds: “The most important thing about all of this is, I’m not preaching, I’m opening myself up, I’m no different to everyone else. I am part of the problem. It’s like a mirror being held up to myself.”
Although her project sprang from satire, it does not make it any less personal to Baby Queen who wants it to help young girls who might also feel the way she did. The best way for her to do that was to “satirize the people that make kids feel like a nobody. All these people that edit the way that they look online, and they portray these perfect lives. That’s what makes you feel like you’re nothing. And that’s not reality – I was a somebody when I was 13 years old, I was a somebody when I was a nobody at a fashion party, and I’m just as much as a somebody now. I want to make music that people can connect to so much that they feel like they don’t have to change.”
The second song from her EP has just been released today and is called Buzzkill, check it out on your preferred streaming platform – or better yet, buy it! You can find Bella on Instagram under @queenofthebabies.
Post written by Moïra Lilly.