Relishing in the recent success and achievement of her debut album – Quarter Life Crisis – dropping, Baby Queen or Arabella Latham talks all things new music, the writing process, her inner struggles, and what it means to be experiencing a quarter-life crisis.
“It is quite overwhelming, but it is amazing. It is so good being on tour whilst the album dropped but then it is anti-climatic because now what do I do with my life!” Anarchic alternative-pop star Baby Queen beams as she summarises the experience of her debut album dropping mid-tour for said album – Quarter Life Crisis. When asked how audiences and fans have responded to the drop of the album, she says: “Everyone has embraced the music and connected to it, it is amazing to see people relate to new songs. Starting the tour with not everyone knowing the words was strange and it worried me, but it was cool to experience people’s first reactions to the music.” The release of the album appears to hold two meanings for Bella – one of excitement and one of terror and anticipation – how are you supposed to react when your first album drops halfway through a tour – doubt and fear run through her mind but become settled by the warmth and appreciation of Baby Queen’s dedicated fan base.
Concerning the worry and doubt surrounding her debut, Bella explains: “I think I have always doubted and second-guessed myself, especially more after signing to a label and having to hear people’s opinions on what I am writing, and it has been difficult at times”. She continues: “The album was the most difficult time for me as it is my debut, which is a big thing to live up to. I was a ghost and very isolated inside my head. I kept saying it was not good enough, it consumed me, that has never happened to me before, but it is because I care so much about it.”
The title – Quarter Life Crisis – draws attention. The common phrase mid-life crisis is universal – yet Arabella is eager to shine a light on how people in their mid-twenties also go through a crisis. “I was talking to my cousin’s girlfriend about some of the songs on the album and the themes and how I was feeling in general and she said Bella it seems like you are having a quarter-life crisis. I had never heard of that before so I googled it and was like this is what I have been looking for!” Bella’s naming of the album ties the majority of the theme in the debut together – it is a carefully crafted title which mirrors the story told in the album. Bella adds to summarise the title and album more finitely: “The songs on the album highlight aspects of being in early adulthood and the chaos you experience in it, the title bookends it all together.”
When asked which songs were the hardest to write – emotionally and physically – Bella sighs relief at the question being in two sections: “I am so glad you separated these things because they are such different things because of the emotional strife and actual syllables.” “Emotionally, it was ‘Obvious’. The feelings in this song are very real to me, and I put off writing about it for such a long period. Writing about family is hard, I cried through the entire process of the song. However, the most physically tiring song to write was ‘We Can Be Anything’. It was a completely different song and the only thing that stayed was the outro so I made a mind map of everything the song could be about and compiled it all into the song.” Airing a sigh of relief after opening up about the emotional strife faced while writing ‘Obvious’ – it is pleasing to see how Baby Queen is so passionate about her projects being perfect and polished to a tee.
Bella is an openly queer artist who does not shy away from being a vocal LGBTQ+ supporter – inside and outside her music. One of the tracks on the album – ‘Dream Girl’ – touches on Bella’s sexuality and experiences in having feelings for the same sex with lyrics like: “Does he tell you that you’re his dream girl / Because you’re a dream girl.” Diverting the conversation towards if she feels it necessary to be openly queer and supportive, Bella responds: “I have always fought against wanting to show my queerness in my writing, I have never wanted to do it but I am constantly chasing this desire to be incredibly honest. I did not want my sexuality to become part of the conversation because it eclipses everything else about you but I could not help being honest.” As a fan – it must be validating to see your favourite artist singing about similar experiences that you may have gone through – Bella says: “It is so so so incredible seeing fans feel heard and seen in my music, especially when it is something that you so fiercely did not accept about yourself and then stand on a stage and see everyone be so affected by the words I am singing. It has completely changed my life.”
Another song off the debut – ’23’ – is worth intense discussion. “So basically I went to this party and there was a girl there I was sort of talking to – it was a word vomit narrative. She was twenty-three and I was like live a little come back to my house, this never happened. I have got her number though so I may text her and say I wrote this song about you,” she explains. After a burst of laughter, Bella adds: “But like…she is an actress and yeah I have an actress problem, it is a real issue.”
Living in a quote-on-quote quarter-life crisis comes with highs and lows – Bella references these low times quite frequently within the record, especially those faced when she was growing up – her teenage years. “’Letter To Myself at 17′ is one of the more personal songs on the record, when I look back I was such a fragile person at seventeen, I hated my body and I struggled with my sexuality. I felt alone,” Bella highlights when delving into the meaning behind the track. During her live performance and before she sings the song – Bella addresses the crowd and makes them aware of what she would say to her younger self, and that you are great the way you are – leaving audiences with hope. Bella adds emotionally: “I think the message of the whole album essentially is life is chaotic and difficult and traumatic and lonely and terrifying. But it is also beautiful and so incredible. We are so lucky to be here and experience all these emotions. It is an album of hope.”
“Finishing this album in vernal has been a big accomplishment of mine. Getting to the end of this project after the struggle has been the greatest accomplishment of my life.” When asked how she knew the album was complete and that the accomplishment had been reached – after what seems like years and eagerly waiting for her debut record – she responds: “I think you never feel like an album is done, but eventually I sent in the final link, and my manager was like yeah it is time for the recording process – it was a consensus.”
Sitting and chatting to Baby Queen – she is amidst her tour – chewing on some Tangfastics and taking drags of a vape. “My favourite part of being on the road is the fact I go to a different universe, the outside world does not exist. It is freeing – we are free spirits.” When discussing which songs are the best to play live – ‘Grow Up’ is an instant answer. “We have a beautiful band arrangement for it, I am playing guitar and it feels like a musician’s show. I have wanted to do this for a long time I just hate singing pop songs. I do not like it at all,” she laughs. Swiftly, Bella adds: “I mean I do not mind it because it is a big part of Baby Queen but I want to be seen as a musician.” The songs that Bella never wants to have to sing again arise as she sighs: “‘Colours of You’, it brings the vibe down, oh but also ‘Dover Beach’ and ‘Love Killer’.”
Closing the discussion to a pleasant end as the room’s acoustic becomes filled with what only can be described as spontaneous Jazz band music from another room – it is evident Bella is ready to morph into Baby Queen and begin the show. Energy and morale are high – the album, freshly released the day before – now has its time to shine and spread its message. Despite the process being traumatic and tiring, Arabella is determined to make Baby Queen an artist within the record – and wants to spread the message and explore the notion of a quarter-life crisis to wider audiences and her current dedicated fanbase.
Stream Quarter Life Crisis here: