WITH six hours to go until Baby Queen takes to Brighton’s Concorde 2 stage, there’s a crowd outside eagerly waiting for a glimpse of the Gen Z poster girl.
Inside, the stage design to recreate the singer’s bedroom (like her album cover) is in hand as I join her on her bus outside the venue, on the first night of her UK tour.
Baby Queen opens up about heartbreak and her debut albumCredit: Supplied
The singer reveals: ‘I had a bad break-up when I was younger and vowed I’d never let that happen to me again as heartache makes you go completely mental’
Dressed in a black Fleetwood Mac Rumours T-shirt which shows off her coolArabella Latham, aka Baby Queen, already looks like a star.
Baby Queen has connected with lots of people since she emerged in 2020.
She has been winning the hearts of everyone, including famous fans such as Olivia Rodrigo — who she’s toured with — and Courtney Love who has become a mentor to the 26-year-old.
“Baby Queen has won over so many because she’s endearing but she’s also a brat,” smiles the singer.
“Calling myself Baby Queen was one of my finest moments.
“It’s the perfect name as Baby with Queen means fun. It’s got both innocence and experience.”
Baby Queen’s debut album Quarter Life Crisis looks set to be one of the highest new entries in today’s chart.
And of her record Baby Queen says: “The songs are interesting, intelligent, and sometimes snarky but most of all they’re really honest.
“There’s not a single song on there that’sor I don’t understand why it’s there.
“I’m really proud of it.”
Quarter Life Crisis was the perfect title for the record because Baby Queen says when she turned 25, it was the age she felt she had to grow-up.
She explains: “I woke up on my 25th birthday and thought ‘Right, prefrontal cortex done. I’m no longer a child.’
“I cried when I turned 25 as I knew I couldn’t use excuses any more and had to take responsibility for the rest of my life.
“My early twenties were chaotic.
“I was completely nuts.
“I’m so surprised I’m alive and I must have had nine lives.
“Growing up is so strange and I don’t feel like I’m crazy any more.
“I want to hold on to that youthfulness but I wanted to go and really live my life and do things. And that was making this album.”
South African singer-songwriter Latham moved from Durban to London at 18 to pursue her music career, determined to overcome every obstacle she faced.
She says: “I’ve been making music my whole life. But moving to London made me understand just how much competition there is, and how good and unique you need to be to make it.
“If I can’t make it in London, it wasn’t going to happen for me.
“In South Africa, I felt really isolated from the music world that I was seeing on the international stage and my parents were very against me moving to the UK — but I was dead set on it.
“I had little demo CDs with a picture of my face on and l was out, knocking on record labels in London, saying, ‘Hi, Arabella, I’m from South Africa. This is my demo CD. Will you sign me to your record label?’”
Things didn’t happen at first for Baby Queen and with the knockbacks came self-doubt and soul-searching “Within two weeks I knew I had to change my plan and I realised my music was sh*t,” says Baby Queen.
“I got really depressed after that.
“I was living on Regent’s Canal on a riverboat.
“That period was just overwhelming, this whole new place and new culture.
“I got swept up in it but I kept writing and went through many errors.
“I wrote almost-albums that were never released as they were all sh*t, and then eventually I got to the point where the first ‘Baby Queen’ song was written, which was four or five years after arriving in London.”
Raw Thoughts was the song.
It and Buzzkill became the defining tracks that launched Latham as Baby Queen and allowed her to kickstart her career.
“They were so quintessentially Baby Queen and the start of everything,” she explains.
“Those songs gave me the confidence I needed as my whole life, I’ve despised myself . . . like HATED myself.
“I think that’s why I’ve got into a career where I wanted attention and wanted to be revered, because there’s a massive gaping hole inside.
“I really struggled with self-confidence as a kid and had eating disorders.
“I had this constant narrative between two sides of my head — one that thinks I’m the greatest and one side that thinks I’m the sh*ttiest human alive.
“Baby Queen gave me that confidence to be who I wanted to be which is outgoing and confident.
“It’s always been like a mask.”
A song on the album that shows Baby Queen’s strength is We Can Be Anything.
“It’s the song I’m most proud of,” she says.
“I nearly threw the towel in with that song and must have rewritten it about eight times.
“Then on New Year’s Eve I tried it one more time and it was like someonefor a diamond and finding one.
“I’m so proud I kept going.”
The album also includes Want Me, the track written about her obsession with Killing Eve star Jodie Comer.
“She’s my queen, my absolute queen and changed the trajectory of my career.
“I was in love with her. I was obsessed with her,” she says.
“We are friends now, well sort of,” she laughs.
“She followed me on Instagram and slid into my DMs one day when I was in the studio.
“I was shaking, like a freak as it’s not every day you have the person you are obsessed with texting you.
“I would plan what I was going to reply in my notes app.
“Then I met her at a Self Esteem gig and we did tequila shots together.
“I’m not crazy obsessed any more and I think we can just be friends.”
Baby Queen, who identifies as queer, has stated she’s not keen on having her sexuality labelled and is proud of her LGBTQ+ support.
Tracks such as Dream Girl and Colours Of You — a track written specifically for the Netflix’s hit LGBTQ+ drama Heartstopper, based on Alice Oseman’s books for young adults — are anthems.
She adds: “I was ashamed of my sexuality. This was something that I was so ashamed of, even when I started dating people, I didn’t want anyone to know.
“Growing up in South Africa two girls even holding hands would be so taboo.
“I’m bisexual, but that’s a label as well, and the reason that I hate labels is because they become your defining characteristic.
“It’s not what I offer to the world.
“It’s not my main descriptive quality, it’s a small factor of who I am as a person.
“Who you love is not who you are and I don’t think it’s that f***ing interesting.
“But I think that once you accept yourself you can’t lie. I’m being honest, and the community have come to me. I haven’t sought them out.
“And I’m really proud that I get to be that role model for other people.
“As for relationships? I had a bad break-up when I was younger and vowed I’d never let that happen to me again as heartache makes you go completely mental.
“But this job is not conducive to having a relationship as my whole world is Baby Queen.
“I’m always working and planning what happens.
“There’s even a song called Die Alone on the record as I had this vision of me dying alone on my bed but we will see.
“I can’t see me meeting anyone who will be my entire world as my music is my world.”
Last year Baby Queen supported Olivia Rodrigo on her UK and European tour.
“It was surreal to do that tour. I was so excited and I had no idea what to expect, because I’d never played gigs that size before.
“That was my first support tour and it’s made me want to go back and play those same venues again, myself.”
On the matter of her friendship with Courtney Love, she says: “We met on social media and got talking.
“Then she invited me to her house a few times and we watched Almost Famous and the Tina Turner film together.
“She’s fascinating and she would let me smoke joints in her house.
“And I was like, ‘What the f am I doing, like listening to Nirvana’s Heart-Shaped Box with Courtney Love in her bed?!’
“She has given me a lot of advice. She is incredibly quotable.
“She’ll say something that I will run in my head, like, ‘Don’t call yourself a pop star, call yourself a rock star because rock stars stick around longer and get away with more.’
“And she said I am as good as Kurt which made me think ‘What the f***?’
“She is empowering, has given me confidence and she really has my back.”
Baby Queen cites The 1975s Matty Healy as another inspiration and they met through a stylist friend.
She says: “When I moved to London The 1975’s album I Like It When Youwas in my ears constantly.
“It was like the soundtrack of moving to a new city.
“And meeting Matty didn’t disappoint. He was soeven though I think I annoyed the f*** out of him afterwards through our DMs.
“My biggest idol is Taylor Swift though.
“I was the biggest fan of hers.
“I had a Taylor Swift fan account on Twitter when I was 13.
“I felt I knew her that she was part of my family.
“In my head, she was my sister. And that’s why I don’t think I can ever meet Taylor.
“She was the reason I picked up a guitar — the reason I started to do this.
“And I’m sure she would be lovely to me. But what if it goes wrong?
“It would crush me and I don’t want to be crushed.
“I’d rather keep it like that like, she’s not really a human.
“Because she’s the one thing I’ve got left.
“She’s everything to me and I’d hate to spoil that.”
Baby Queen has already started writing her next album.
“I started it pretty much as soon as I finished this one,” she says.
“I write best when the pressure is off so I’m making the most of it.
“I’m also writing a book, multiple books in fact.
“I’ve got one which is a fantasy series and another about happiness, looking into studies about it.
“Looking at why people are sad around the world.
“I’ve always been a very sad person.
“But with my life and everything that’s happened recently I’m not really sad any more.”
- Quarter Life Crisis is out now