In 2017, Bea Laus got kicked out of her all-girls Catholic school in London over a combination of “grades and behavior,” she says. “They knew I smoked in the toilets a lot, and I guess that was bad.”
She had attended the school since she was 12 and often felt alienated during her time there: “I didn’t have the same hobbies as all the other Asian kids,” she recalls, “and I was ‘too Asian’ to be in the popular group.” The now-20-year-old was born in the Philippines and moved to the United Kingdom with her parents when she was a toddler. While her father always focused on her academics, her mother advocated for music education, encouraging Laus to play the violin starting at age 5 and introducing her to Alanis Morissette and Nirvana, which jump-started a love for 1990s alt-rock.
Getting expelled from school left Laus, then 17, feeling lost. She turned to writing as a therapeutic release and took comfort in the music of Alex G, Elliott Smith and The Moldy Peaches. Her dad bought her a secondhand classical guitar, which she learned how to play by watching YouTube tutorials. The first original track she wrote for guitar was the gentle acoustic love song “Coffee” that she uploaded to streaming services in 2017 and became her breakout single under the name beabadoobee. (The moniker came from the made-up account name for her Finsta, a secondary Instagram account, because at the time she thought, “No one’s going to care.”)