As a Filipino-British woman, she's a rare figure in the indie music industry – and with her frank sense of humour and soaring, angst-ridden hooks, she knows better than anyone how to speak to teenage girls. At 20, after all, she very recently was one. "It's so heartwarming to know that I've helped these people somehow, in some way, to be more comfortable with themselves. It makes me happy." Perhaps that's why she describes her debut album, Fake It Flowers, as a "female record," in the vein of indie's torchbearers of female rage, like Alanis Morrissette and Dolores O’Riordan or bands including The Breeders, Veruca Salt and The Cranberries. "It's a record for girls to cry to and dance to and get angry to. It's all about, like, how annoying it is to be a girl."
Bea Kristi's teenage years have been more of a whirlwind than most. Her first single was also the very first song she ever wrote: the sweet and devastating acoustic track "Coffee", which went viral after she uploaded it to Soundcloud in 2017. After quickly following it up with a self-released four-track cassette, she signed to The 1975's record label Dirty Hit, and dropped another EP the following year. In 2019, she released two more EPs – the acclaimed Loveworm and Space Cadet – toured the US with indie pop star Clairo, and covered the NME, who labeled her "devastatingly cool". In early 2020, she was nominated for the BRITs Rising Star Award, the BBC Sound of 2020, and performed at the NME Awards and at The 1975's O2 Arena shows. Before she could get a chance to catch her breath, "Coffee" then took on a new life of its own – as the sampled chorus in Canadian artist Powfu's "Death Bed", a TikTok smash which has now crept into the Top 20 chart in 27 countries. After all that, Bea is now locked down in her parents' house in west London, back in the bedroom where it all started, putting the finishing touches on her debut album and meditating on everything that brought her to this point.
Bea was born in Iloilo City in the Philippines in 2000, where her dad worked as a rep for a pharmaceutical company, having worked his way up from a background of living in slums. When Bea was two, her mum moved to the UK; she and her dad followed a year later. Growing up in west London, Bea often found herself feeling like an outsider – particularly at her majority-white, Catholic school, where she felt ostracised by the other girls. By the time she was 14, she found solace in the alternative indie bands she discovered through her mum, including the Cranberries, the Smiths, and Original Filipino Music bands such as Itchy Worms and APO Hiking Society. She also liked to pretend she was a teenager from a past generation by listening to cassettes on her walkman.
Bea also found solace in the group of friends she eventually found at school, though their experimentations with drugs and all-nighters got them into trouble. "The one thing I could rely on was the friends I had at that time, and the music we'd listen to, and the shit we did," Bea remembers now. But everything changed when, after her GCSEs, she found out she had been thrown out of her school and had to scramble for a place at a different sixth form. For a while, she wasn't sure what her future looked like. "That summer was one of the best summers I had, friendship-wise, but also the unhealthiest and the most confusing one, because I had no idea what the fuck I was doing with my life. Until the day my dad brought a guitar home. It was like a sign of hope."