Beabadoobee on Opening for Taylor Swift, Filipino Representation and Working with Her Boyfriend (Exclusive) (2023)

What happens in Vegas usually stays in Vegas, but that absolutely does not apply to Beabadoobee on the Eras Tour.

Bea, 22, has already opened for a handful of dates on Taylor Swift's sold-out run of shows. But something that happened during her first night on that stage — at Las Vegas' Allegiant Stadium on March 25 — should be staying with her for a very long time.

During Swift's acoustic portion of the show, the headliner revealed she read an interview with Bea, who grew up with Swift's debut LP. "I figured for her first show with us, I'd play that specific song that she said she wanted to hear," Swift told her crowd, before performing "Our Song," in dedication to Bea.

"It didn't feel real," the artist born Beatrice Kristi Laus tells PEOPLE.

"Imagine someone that you've listened to growing up and almost shaped your childhood being like, 'This is for young Bea.' And I'm like, well, f— my life. I'm going to die. It's like all the problems have just been solved in that [moment]," Beabadoobee shares on Zoom, in the midst of the Eras Tour. "She's just so awesome. And the fact that she took the time to say that and to watch an interview, and to sing it and even just introducing me. It's just mental that someone I'm a massive fan of appreciates my music as much. It was a trip. It was a massive trip. It was like I was on shrooms or something."

Currently touring the U.S. alongside Swift through April, the magnitude of the crowds Bea is now playing her music to could feel like something of a hallucination for any artist. But they're real, and at this point in her career, the Filipino-British singer-songwriter has earned them.

From the critical success of her early EPs, to her debut album Fake It Flowers and her latest record in 2022's Beatopia — named after a world she imagined for herself as a young kid — Bea has found a pocket of her own in popular music. She can lend the ultimate sweet love song to fans as she does with latest single "Glue Song," or absolutely wail with a few other heavier tracks, which she affectionately refers to as "the bangers." As her art continues to reach new ears, Beabadoobee is now learning to let it fill up a stadium like it deserves.

How are you feeling right now with the Eras Tour well on its way?

Honestly, it's pretty overwhelming, but just very exciting and I appreciate everything that's been happening and Taylor Swift bringing me onto this tour. We've been doing some headline shows in between the dates and that's been a nice separation from it too. But I've been feeling pretty good. My boyfriend came yesterday and he's staying for a little bit, so he gets to see one of the shows for the first time, so pretty exciting. He's like, "Oh my God, I can't wait."

(Video) Beabadoobee on Opening for Taylor Swift, Filipino Representation and Working with Her Boyfriend

Congrats on the success of Beatopia. How has fan feedback for this record felt since its release last year?

It's been really good. I obviously did my debut album and that did well and I thought I was like, 'Oh, what happens if your album does well?' And I look back at that album fondly, but there's a lot of things I'd want to change from that. So when I released Beatopia, it was something I was super, super proud of. I really just wanted people to appreciate it as much as I did. And I really felt that with the response I got from the fans. And at points, it can get super overwhelming because a lot of people that didn't usually listen to my music, started listening to my music. And it's interesting to see the dynamic and trajectory of one's career and how that changes even at gigs and at shows and on social media. But yeah, it's been cool.

So many people are now finding comfort in an album that's named after a world you imagined for yourself as a kid. But what do you think that 7-year-old Bea — who created the concept of Beatopia — would make of all the love that the album has seen?

Oh, she'd be so happy, because everyone used to laugh at her about it. So she is somewhere just kicking her feet, so happy. What she deserves, really.

You've told this story of a teacher being unkind to you when you drew a poster of Beatopia as a kid. But even beyond that, you've opened up in the past about different hardships you've faced then — struggling with bullying or self-acceptance. With the world of Beatopia, and your music in general, how much did or do you have your younger self in mind when creating?

I think it's almost subconscious, you know what I mean? It's not something I do on purpose. I think as you grow as a person, everything I write feels like it's an ending to something I struggled with when I was a kid. Or even something I struggled with a year ago, 10 years ago, it's almost like a book ending to that. It's very healing. And I've always used music as a way of escapism or even just a way to understand life a little bit better. So I think that's helped me a lot growing up as a human being, not just a musician.

In the spirit of our younger selves, I absolutely was moved by the Kids Choir Version of "Glue Song." What made that one — with all the heartfelt songs in your discography — the right one for a kids choir?

There's just an innocence to that song and it only made sense to have children singing along to it. And I've always wanted to be a nursery teacher before even being a musician. And still, my dream is to be a nursery teacher and I just love kids so much that even having them in the studio was such an amazing experience for me. It was like, I don't know, I just feel like after everything that's happened, a lot of things had happened to me when I was a child, and I feel a sense of responsibility to make sure that kids have a really nice time, a really great time.

(Video) Beabadoobee on Opening for Taylor Swift, Filipino Representation and Working with Her Boyfriend

You were cheering them on in the studio.

It was pretty awesome. It was just very healing and it was really nice. And I got them all cupcakes. They missed a day of school for it. And I was like, that's sick. You can miss school and you're now in a recording studio. That's so sick for you. It was really sweet.

I believe this was the first song you wrote about a new relationship in your life. When you write from a place like that for the first time again, did you find yourself taking a lot of time on the words to make sure they were perfect, or did it just come out easily on "Glue Song?"

What's funny is, I think a lot of people have this assumption that I wrote from scratch about my newfound relationship. But the first bit of that, I had written during a really confusing time and I couldn't finish the song for a really long time. When I met this person, I was able to actually finish the song and I was like, "Oh my God, now I finished 'Glue Song.' I can actually release the song." And I think it was the first song where I didn't... Like people have assumed, "Oh, there's double meanings behind every lyric. It sounds a bit unhealthy." And I'm like, yes, because you're reading into it too much.

Beabadoobee on Opening for Taylor Swift, Filipino Representation and Working with Her Boyfriend (Exclusive) (2)

Do you find a lot of people try to read into your lyrics? Or do you read criticisms where you're like, 'It's right there?"

Or it's like, everyone's like, "Oh no, this happened in her life. This is what you said in this song from Fake It Flowers and this and this. And it happened during this time of her life, which meant it did happen." I'm like, you have no idea what any of this means. But it's great. When I write music, I want people to be able to relate it to themselves and people do. But I think because my life is so much online, people tend to just try and map out everything that goes on in my world. It's like I'm giving this song to you, gain from it what you will.

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So do you see songwriting as more of a gift? I mean obviously, it's therapy in a way, but do you also see it as a gift for people to interpret?

Totally. It's me listening to the Boygenius album and I know that all three of them have… they're going through whatever they're going through. And I'm listening to the Boygenius album like, "Oh my God, this is totally relatable to my life and you wrote about it." That's how I think you're meant to listen to music. So it's definitely something that is so personal to me and I'm like, "You know what, I might as well give it to you." That's how I write my music and yeah alright, you can hear it.

And what was it like to film the "Glue Song" video? With [boyfriend] Jake Erland filming and in your hometown in the Philippines, what about those elements felt right for this song in particular?

I guess it was just so honest. It was literally the nicest experience I've ever had filming a music video. It didn't even feel like we were filming a music video. It's like we were on holiday with my boyfriend and he was meeting my family for the first time. And it was genuine, it was just that. It was plain and simple. We're just like, look, this is what our holiday is, and it was really fun. I didn't want to try to hide behind any fakeness of everything. There's so many shots where you can see… what people can't really tell, when I look at the camera, I don't necessarily look at the camera, but I'm looking at the person filming behind it. The smiles are all so genuine. I was like, I saw comments, "I've never seen her smile this much in a music video." Because I hate my f—ing smile. I literally hate how I look when I smile. But I just couldn't help but smile throughout the whole thing.

So Taylor Swift is keeping up with your interviews and genuinely such a fan of yours. As her opening act, does that add importance to what it is that you do out there?

I feel pressure because I'm like, "S—," and I'm terrified the whole time. Me and the band, when we did an arena tour, we're like, "Oh, it's going to be super chill. The first show's always going to be terrifying and the shows after that are going to be super chill." And then I was like, yeah, yeah, the first show, absolutely s—--- it the whole time. And the second show, I was like, "This is going to be way chill." I go on stage, still s—ing it. I'm like, this is not going to go away. This is just not going to go away. I felt like I wanted to vomit the entirety of my set.

It's actually pretty terrifying out there. Hope I get used to it. But I think it's just when I'm on that stage, I not only think about like, "Oh, I'm going to play to all these people and that's so terrifying as it is." It's more like, "Oh my God, I'm doing this for Taylor Swift because Taylor Swift wants me up here and she loves me and I love her." So it's just a lot to take in when you're up there.

In this show, you throw in "Talk," "See You Soon," "Glue Song," of course. How do you manage to shorten your setlist and decide which songs feel like proper introductions for those not familiar?

We were going through options like, "Oh, we should do a rock set and we should do an acoustic set and maybe we switch both sets. One night we do a rock set and do "Charlie Brown" or the bangers and then the next set will be "See You Soon" and "Perfect Pair" and "Glue Song." And then we were like, f— it. We have to find a set that just had everything in it. Something that represents me as an artist. And I think we found a really good balance of that. And also, I did make the setlist based on what Taylor Swift said that she liked about my music. She used "See You Soon" for a TikTok and I was like, "We have to put 'See You Soon' in it." And then last time I spoke to her, she really liked my Space Cadet EP. And she came up to me at the NME Awards and she was like, "Your album has no skips." I'm like, OK, well one song from that EP has to be on the set. And I was like, "She Plays Bass." So yeah, that was a very big influence. I was like, what do you think she'd want to hear?

I'm curious too, when you prepared to do a stadium show and prepared the set, who did you look to as the quintessential stadium performers?

You know what's special, I didn't really have someone like that until I saw her show and I was like, "Oh my God, it would be so awesome." And after seeing her first two shows, even the band told me, and then we did a headline a couple of days after, it was like, "Your energy was completely different this time." I was like, "Yeah, because I just watched Taylor Swift play for two nights." I'm like, OK, I'm going to have to channel that. So it's, after watching her show, I've never seen her live before. That really inspired me, the way I presented myself on stage. But prior to that, when I was planning for the stadium, I didn't really have anyone to look up just because all the bands I liked, they only played the same venues I've been playing right now.

So I'd always just like to look at Karen O. I'd look to Veruca Salt. And my band totally knows this, but I take one thing that every artist I love does on stage and I use it on stage. It's like the whole Karen O lead thing that she does all the time. The Veruca Salt hair whip that I do all the time. And then from Taylor, it's just her really interacting with the people there. And despite her playing to about fricking 70,000 people, it almost feels like she's looking at every single person in the room. And I was like, I can actually do that because I'm not playing stadiums, how I'm actually looking at everyone in the room. But yeah, it's been awesome. I just feel really blessed to be able to see her show almost every night.

Beabadoobee on Opening for Taylor Swift, Filipino Representation and Working with Her Boyfriend (Exclusive) (3)

Has seeing her 3-hour set inspired you to write more on tour?

I've written so much recently, it's like something in my brain where I'm like, all right, I'm back on my songwriting thing. I've been planning on writing the next album and I've had ideas for it for ages and I've already had some songs here and there, but I've been finishing half-written songs and making new ones just yesterday. And it's all really inspiring.

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We started this interview talking about childhoods and kids singing. When you're out there on this tour playing stadiums with Taylor Swift, I'm sure you see a lot of kids who are singing along. Does it feel like that initial version of Beatopia that you drew as a kid has almost come full circle in a way when you see stuff like that?

It's almost like it's the same feeling I get when a little Filipino girl comes up to me and is like "I've never seen anyone like me up on stage with an electric guitar." I'm like, "This is totally what I needed." And it's so awesome to be that person for someone. Yeah, it's pretty rad.

For more from Beabadoobee, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands everywhere now.

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