The reign of the so-called millennials is nearing its end, while the generation that precedes it, called Generation Z or centennials, is ready to take the baton in various areas of daily life.
To that generation belongs Bella Latham, a South African singer and musician who under the alias “Baby Queen” is making enough noise in several countries.
Depressed and disillusioned with her surroundings, as the canon seems to dictate for the young people of her generation, Bella was just writing her first songs about the superficiality of the world she saw around her, when the idea of what would be her artistic alias came to her mind. .
“I felt that this person, Baby Queen, is everything I ever wanted to be,” he says. “Much of what I am saying in my songs is totally immature and naive, but also somewhat experienced with the anguish of being a teenager of this generation.”
She says that once she brought both concepts together in one, everything took on meaning and identity for her: “I felt that now I could really say something.”
Bella says that before making known what she defines as a “satirical alt-pop” she lived in her native Durban, South Africa, where she was very in touch with nature, so much so that at some point she considered the idea of being a forest ranger and Tour guide to admire the wildlife.
She remembers that she was obsessed with the desert and that she knew all the South African bird books by heart.
“I really miss the weather and how connected I was to nature when I lived there. My parents still live in Durban, so they are definitely what I miss the most, ”he says in an interview.
Another thing he clearly remembers from that time is his father playing funk and soul mixtapes during their road trips. And although the culture of his city was rather conservative, it was precisely in music that he found his escape. His mother gave him a guitar and a piano, and his uncle, also a musician, taught him to play.
One of her first musical obsessions was Taylor Swift, when at the age of 13 she began to write her own songs and record them with an application called Mixcraft. His father helped him distribute some demos, and at 15 he was already releasing some of his first songs online.
“It was cheesy pop music,” he justifies. “He used to sing with an American accent, because there was no pop music on the radio where people sang with a South African accent.”
Burn the ships
Three years later, Bella made the decision to move to Fulham, West London, where she enrolled in a music course at university and began frequenting as many pubs and concerts as she could.
And of course, there was a major culture shock, as she herself recalls:
“Initially, the people of London seemed more closed and socially defensive than the South Africans. I think it was difficult to get used to … It took me a long time to make friends and feel that I belong to this city, because everything is different here, but I definitely consider it my home ”.
After going through a series of moves, a rock band, and a love breakup, she realized she was distracting herself from making her own music, so she made some adjustments to be able to focus, and begin to match, three times per week with producer King Ed to write about that shallow environment he wasn’t liking:
“I began to write bitterly about the world that I had perceived while here in London, about how it had changed me, and the narcissistic I had become; I became obsessed with those identities that we cultivate online; between who you are. and what you pretend to be… I hate the way social media affects our opinion of ourselves, and the way it’s so easy to control your identity online. “
Although his sound remained aligned with pop, by merging with a more complex lyricism, inspired by artists such as Little Simz, Kate Tempest and The 1975, he made his musical proposal something more interesting.
“I found that I love dark and complex lyrics over happy, upbeat melodies,” he adds.
This is how songs like “Internet religion” were born, a very sharp satire on the generation that, like it, lives completely connected. And in the same logic of self-analysis, he assures: “The most important thing is that I am not preaching, I am opening up (because) I am not different from others … I am part of the problem. It is like a mirror that supports myself.”
And for this reason, we did not refrain from asking what the world would be like if the internet did not exist.
“I think pop culture would be completely different. Our idols would be different… I think the Internet is pretty amazing! It has allowed the spread of liberal ideas and has been fundamental in the fight for human rights… But we would be much less connected to each other globally, but we could be less depressed because the internet contributes enormously to depression and anxiety among children ”.
In addition to her single “These Drugs”, another song entitled “Medicine” stands out, in which the artist delves into her own relationship with antidepressants, although she assures that Chemistry was not exactly her favorite subject at school:
“I hated science in school, and I hated everything to do with math… Even though I loved biology. Of course, she worked very hard in class, she was a total perfectionist ”.
Part of the noise that the singer has managed to make, even outside her country, is thanks to the alliance with her Polydor label, with whom she feels fortunate to have signed:
“You hear horror stories about artists and their labels, but it hasn’t been like that for me. I think the only negative is that I feel more pressure, because now there are more people who believe in me and who I don’t want to disappoint ”.
Bella has also drawn attention for her ability as a multi-instrumentalist, playing guitar, bass, piano, ukulele, banjo, and drums. Specifically, on this album he mainly plays the guitar and the keyboard, although he says he wants to perfect his technique in front of the drums.
Born out of satire, Baby Queen is a deeply personal project, rooted in Bella’s experiences of feeling like a misfit on the fringes of cool:
“I felt like a nobody,” he reflects, until he realized how fragile everything was, how much everyone struggled with their own demons and hid behind the fake.
And it is that Bella came to the conclusion that the best way to help the girls who could identify with her was precisely by satirizing their situation. What she defines as “That’s what makes you feel like you’re nothing.”
This is what this project is like, which she defines as “smart and satirical pop”, although she also likes to consider it as a kind of “anti-pop” because, in her own words, it is “pop music for people who hate pop music”.
Before saying goodbye, Bella tells her Mexican fans that she hopes to meet them at a future Baby Queen show in this country, “when all the madness of the pandemic is over,” as she assures that her concerts are really loud and energetic:
“It is something incredible, because generally it is relentless… It does not stop for a second! And that’s a lot of fun, ”he emphasizes.
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