Beabadoobee on Independent Venue Week: “We’ve got to keep that culture alive”

The artist, who is an IVW 2023 ambassador, talks about the importance of grassroots music venues, touring with Taylor Swift and "raw" new material

Beabadoobee has spoken to NME about the importance of supporting the UK’s independent music venues, as well as her upcoming support slot on Taylor Swift‘s US stadium tour and plans for her “raw” new album.

Bea is an ambassador for this year’s Independent Venue Week, which will be held from today (Monday January 30) through to February 5 and will mark the initiative’s 10th anniversary.

More than 300 UK venues will host hundreds of gigs and events this week to celebrate and support the country’s independent live music spaces, as well as the people that own, run and work in them.


Speaking to NME, Beabadoobee said that she’s “very proud” of her role with IVW 2023.

“It just feels rad supporting something that’s supported me for so long,” she said. “I was given the opportunity to play lots of really amazing venues when I was starting out as an artist, and it’s nice being able to give them a little thank-you in return.”

Asked about her memories of performing live at such venues, Bea cited two formative shows she played at The Boileroom in Guildford – her first-ever gig – and London’s St. Pancras Old Church.

“I think I can speak for a lot of artists when I say that, at these tiny venues, it’s always going to be the best gig you’ll play,” she said. “You can play these massive, amazing venues as well, but the connection you have with the people watching you on-stage is completely different when you play a gig like the ones I did in Guildford or St. Pancras.

“Those two are still among my favourite shows ever. I remember being so extremely nervous: the idea of just playing a gig on a stage where people can watch you was just a crazy idea for me. And it’s still a crazy idea for me!”


For young and up-and-coming artists, Bea said that independent venues can provide “an accessible space” where artists can “share their art and creativity” while also building up their confidence.

“The charm about these venues is not only the fact that it’s so intimate that it’s just you and the crowd, but there’s [also] space for mistakes and vulnerability,” she explained. “I would never be the person I am today were it not for me being nervous, playing to about 50 people and fucking up loads. [The crowd] are right by your feet as well: there’s no barriers at all! It’s just so special. I don’t think I would appreciate everything that’s happened to me [since] were it not for playing those gigs.”

Acknowledging how “the love of live shows has entered everyone’s lives again” post-COVID and asserting that “we’ve got to keep that culture alive”, Bea encouraged music fans to keep supporting their local independent venues by taking a chance on new and previously undiscovered musicians.

“It’s really nice discovering artists on the internet, but there’s something special about buying tickets to a random gig by an artist who you don’t know, and then discovering an artist who you’ll go on to really, really love,” she said. “That’s what I used to do: the amount of bands I’ve discovered from being like, ‘Oh, fuck it: there’s a gig on at the Moth Club!’ It makes it way more special.”

Beabadoobee performing live on-stage
Beabadoobee (Picture: Parri Thomas for NME)

Beabadoobee will head out on her first-ever European headline tour in March, which, she said, will see her “doing something a little bit different” in terms of her live show.

“I’m really excited. I feel like I was really busy last year, and I was trying to find what I wanted in terms of how much I wanted to play live,” she told NME. “I think I figured out an amount of touring that would be healthy for me, because what’s most important in my head is being able to enjoy being able to play live. I feel like if I do it too much, then I might get too tired. I don’t think people talk enough about how much touring takes a toll on an artist’s mental health, and it takes a massive toll on mine.

She continued: “When you get bigger as an artist, you tour way more immensely in venues where you’re further away from the crowd, and you don’t get that sort of intimacy any more. I kind of miss that, so part of me is like, ‘Maybe I should do one week touring the tiniest UK venues and make it super punk-rock?’ But there’s also part of me where it’s like, ‘I have to tour the US for three weeks and be on a bus, away from my mates’. It’s a weird balance, but I’ve managed to figure it out.

“I toured a lot of [second album] ‘Beatopia’ last year, so I think I wanna write a new album this year and figure out something cool to do when I play live. Especially on the European tour, I think I’m going to do something a little bit different.”

Following those dates, Bea will then head to the US for a run of shows supporting Taylor Swift on her ‘Eras Tour’. “I’m most excited about watching Taylor play, and I feel like I could say that for everyone supporting Taylor Swift!” she told NME, before adding that she’s “really grateful for the opportunity to play massive gigs like that”.

“I would say I’m nervous, but I don’t feel the nerves until 10 seconds before I go on stage,” she continued about the prospect of joining Swift’s tour. “I was speaking to my band about this: it’s hella crazy because you get way more nervous playing gigs in front of 50 people than you do playing an arena show, as all the faces blur into one abyss of darkness. All you can see is phone lights! But when you play a 50 or 100-capacity venue, you can see every single one of those faces, which is way more daunting. But I still think I’m going to be fucking nervous playing at a stadium! Like 10 minutes before I go on stage, I’m going to be like, ‘Oh my God, what am I gonna do?'”

Has Bea spoken to Swift yet about the tour?

“I’m hoping to speak on the road with her,” she replied. “We’re going to Las Vegas, and if I have a Vegas wedding, she has to sing at my wedding!”

Bea continued: “I’ve had conversations with [Swift] before where she’s mentioned that she’s a fan of my music, which absolutely boggles my mind. At the NME Awards 2020 I was trying to pluck up the courage to go up to her, and then she comes up to me and says that she really loves my EP. I’m just like, ‘Oh my God, what the hell?’ She’s awesome, and she’s always been an inspiration. I used to listen to her a lot – and I still do! – during my formative years.”

Revealing to NME that she’s already working on the follow-up to July 2022’s ‘Beatopia’ – and that a new song will be released soon – Bea explained: “I’ve been through a lot in my life, so I think it’s going to be a very personal record – much like my other ones. Not just lyrically, but sonically it’s going to be way more raw. It’ll be way more acoustically driven and wholesome.”

Beabadoobee will play at Lafayette in London on February 3 as part of BRITS Week for War Child. You can find out more about this year’s Independent Venue Week here.

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