If our lives weren’t so heavily influenced by those around us, who would we become? That’s the question poised on the tip of R&B soulstress Bea Anderson’s tongue, as she explores the theme of self-acceptance and authenticity in her latest single ‘Picture Perfect.’
With a childhood immersed in singing, adolescence spent writing songs, and Brit School firmly placed under her belt, this rising star has been building an empire for some time now, each brick evidence of the hard work she’s invested into the lifelong project. The foundation of this queendom comes in the shape of soulful singles ‘Pieces’ and ‘Mirror Mirror’, both of which have accumulated the support of BBC Radio 1Xtra (track of the week and C-List), Spotify playlists (Music Friday and Fresh Finds) and from Notion, Apple Music (New Music Daily, New in R&B, Breaking R&B), HUNGER and more recently COMPLEX, CLASH and COLORS.
The next piece of Bea Anderson’s puzzle is her long-awaited EP ‘The Classroom of Silence’ scheduled for release later this year. ‘Picture Perfect’ is the latest single from this body of work, and is inspired by mindfulness, forgiveness and self-acceptance. Liberating herself from the expectations of others, ‘Picture Perfect’ is an excellent example of overcoming perfectionism through self-exploration. Written during an isolating, transitional period of her life, Bea Anderson questioned the restrictions of judgement and dreamt of the freedom that comes with shedding those expectations and embracing your true self.
Produced by Bea Anderson and Jarom S’ua (Timbaland, Drake) ‘Picture Perfect’ is captured through 80s soul soundscapes, guided by Bea Anderson’s silky smooth vocals. “How many times can I say love you but cannot say it to myself?” she sings, a lyric that will hit home for many listeners grappling with self-love. There’s a nod to her influences of Gospel blended with nostalgic R&B groups like Destiny’s Child and Lauryn Hill, and through the jazz-style piano hooks, bouncing bass lines, percussive beats and ethereal backing vocals, the track has an aura of summertime about it; good vibes, sunshine and freedom.
Projext Liquid sat down with the rising soulstress to get an exclusive insight on her latest single 'Picture Perfect' and upcoming EP 'The Classroom of Silence' whilst talking on her journey in self understanding, wellbeing and healing process.
Listen to Bea Anderson single 'Picture Perfect' below:
Artist: Bea Anderson
Interview by: Mia Richardson
Creative Director: Vanessa Abia
Photographer: Ayomide Oyeniyi
Mua: Elizabeth Shokan
Hair Stylist: Nafrema Karamoko
Stylists: Jacklyn O Agu
Assistant stylist: Mandy
Studio: Projext Liquid Studios
Mia: Hey Bea, how’re you doing?
Bea: I’m good thank you.
Mia: Thank you for taking the time to chat to me today and happy release day first and foremost! How does it feel? Do you feel nervous, excited...?
Bea: You just never know what’s going to happen until the day. I literally just saw Amazon Music made me the cover of their R&B playlist, then found out Apple Music gave me like six editorial playlists as well. I’m so excited, especially just knowing that I got this cover, I didn’t expect it at all.
Mia: Congrats, that’s huge! I’ve been playing you all morning, literally obsessed. Let’s talk about it, the new single. R&B has my heart i’d love to hear in your word’s what it's about and the inspiration behind it.
Bea: The craziest thing is, I actually started writing this in 2018. I’ve always loved the song; it means so much to me. I’m going to release a project later this year and it’s all about wellbeing, self-understanding, shadow work and my whole healing journey.
This single is very introspective. As much as this song is a vibe, the lyrical content is the complete opposite, it’s quite deep. It's all about the lessons that I've learned. When you’re raised culturally from a certain background, sometimes you can be subject to the opinions of others as if they’re facts. I’m Jamaican, I’ve been raised in the church, and I got to a position where I just began to question everything. One of the main questions I kept asking myself was, 'What do I believe?' 'What are my own thought processes without the influences of anybody else?'
Mia: It takes a lot to be that vulnerable and share that in your music. Has something happened in your life that made you look in and kind of get to this place in your life where you started to have that introspect?
Bea: I’ve always felt very different in a sense, especially when it comes to my family surrounding and the people that were closest to me. I always felt like my life path was quite separate to people. I'm a creative, I didn't want to be corporate, and I think it gave me a different trajectory in life. It was really hard to discover on my own and understand how that unfolds and how to actually do that basically.
Mia: I'm guessing you don't come from a creative background. Did that just come naturally to you?
Bea: My brothers did music when I was growing up and I grew up in church, which was very musical, so I was always surrounded by music. But I think when you don't have people who are directly around you and actively doing it. I was the first one who was kinda like, you know what I'm going to do it. I went to The Brit School, I was in stage school, even when I was at secondary school, I was always in the music department. There was never really a plan B and I think in the back of my Mum's mind, she was a bit like, please do something academic.
Mia: I can relate to you completely, it's like they're supportive but they kind of hope that it's just a phase that's going to come to an end. But I guess if that's what gives you purpose, you have no choice, because you're not going to enjoy anything else.
Bea: I think that was my main thing, the idea that life is to be lived purposefully rather than just to be lived for the sake of working and to provide. I was probably one of the few people within a close proximity who had that mindset. I don't want to go to work just to get paid and then have to use it to then do what I wanted to do. I didn't understand why the two couldn’t be married together.
Mia: I love that you're on that path. So, what type of music did you listen to growing up and did that have an influence on the music you make today? I can hear some gospel in your new single for sure.
Bea: Yeah, definitely. Gospel is literally the core of everything I do, then I transitioned into R&B. I remember listening to Destiny's Child because they had a gospel background. In a previous interview, someone asked me, what was the song that changed my life, it was a Destiny's Child album; they did a gospel medley and it was phenomenal. I remember thinking, this is the kind of music that I want to make if I’m ever to release it so that's always been my core. I really want people to feel it when they listen to my music, really feel that purpose and soul.
Mia: Does that flow through the whole of the new EP?
Bea: It's a lot different from my first EP. Personally, my sound has developed more and it’s a little bit more true to myself.
Mia: I guess that comes from just growing both in your life and in your music. Have you got any exciting features on the project or is it completely solo?
Bea: I do, it's actually my next single. My next single has a feature with a rapper called Jords. I released my single today and he's just released his album. I'm featured on an interlude and a song on his album and he's my only feature on this EP, He was the perfect match.
Mia: I remember listening to his first ever project and there's so much meaning to what he was saying. Is that what makes him the perfect feature for you?
Bea: Literally that, and my thing is I try to be as authentic as possible. So even when I'm talking about being super introspective, doing the inner work and then obviously writing these songs, it's like, okay, cool. But then how does that even translate into your day-to-day life? That's one thing that I can say about Jords and why we really align so well is because genuinely in human form, he is just as meaningful, he is just as integral, he is just as upright as his music.
Mia: How long have you been working on the EP?
Bea: The core of some of the songs I'd had for quite a while, and I wasn't going to make it into an EP, I was just going to drop singles because I knew I had some really nice songs. But I listened to them all together and thought, you know what? I really would love to make this into a body of work. I had a few songs to fill in that would really give it a nice journey and the first one, like I said, was 2018, so technically I've been working on this for quite a few years.
Mia: Would you say there’s a story behind it?
Bea: Yes, So the EP is called ‘The Classroom of Silence”, it’s actually a quote from a book that really got me through this healing journey. I can't remember what it's called but this book changed my life. It said "in the classroom of silence and in a place of solitude is when you find your truest self and where you find your identity". I explored this concept of who are you when nothing's there. When there's nothing around and you just have to sit in a room by yourself, who are you then? And do you still stand? It's really deep.
Mia: I love this.
Bea: Yeah so, every song is an ode to a lesson that I've learned over this time, it’s been like a four-year period. ‘Picture Perfect”, I wrote in a time where I was feeling really isolated and really on my own, I was just questioning so many things about life, basically.
Mia: Wow. I'm so excited to hear this now. Do you know when you are thinking of releasing it? It got pushed back, didn't it?
Bea: It did get pushed back. It was supposed to be May, sorry guys. But it's now going to be released either at the end of September or the beginning of October.
Mia: And you recently shot a music video for “Picture Perfect”. What was the creative direction behind it?
Bea: It was my director. I had no idea what I wanted it to be like, I think I was in a bit of a creative rut if I'm honest with you, my creative juices were just not flowing. My director is someone who's really close to me, he created this beautiful simplistic concept of me being my own muse, but also the photographer in an introspective depiction.
Mia: I love that. You do a bit of creative direction yourself when you're not making music right?
Bea: Yeah. I have such a creative hand in everything, and as an artist, I know exactly how I want things to look or feel, I know what's authentic to me. I think what works well is my team are people who have known me for years, they are almost like an extension of myself because they know me in a personal way. So, it's like I can trust their vision, I can trust their perspective because they're literally just extensions of me anyways.
Mia: How long have you been making music for?
Bea: I would say that the first time I ever wrote and recorded a song was when I was 11 years old. I was in the studio from then, writing my own songs. I actually played that song to someone, and they told me whenever I have a future album, I should put that song as an interlude. I said never, no way.
Mia: I’ll be disappointed if I don’t hear that on the next album. So, you’re fully independent. Is that a choice and or do you find that makes things difficult for you in the industry?
Bea: I think a lot of people don't realise that I am independent, or they feel like I have quite a big infrastructure. I'm really blessed to have people around me as I said, my closest friends and family jump on board to help me out. Having that generic, infrastructure that's there with you day in, day out, I don't have that. It’s been such a learning curve in terms of balance because all I want to do is just to go to the studio and make music, but I have to rob myself of being in a creative space because I can get really drained when I'm so focused on the business and the logistics of being an artist. Sometimes when you look too polished people never think you need help. That's definitely been where I've shot myself in the foot because it might seem like there is a massive team behind me but realistically, no, it's just me up all night.
Mia: Do you ever get imposter syndrome?
Bea: Oh my gosh. I have battled with it so much. When I first started releasing music as an artist, I couldn't even get my head around the idea that I was an artist. I was like, no, I'm not an artist. I'm just a normal person. I just sing. It's not that deep. Honestly, I couldn't get my head around it.
Mia: Do you still have that?
Bea: I think it comes in waves, but I've learned to manage the mental health element of music. Sometimes you have to just take everything in your stride and not put too much pressure on yourself, especially if you're an independent artist and you don't have the infrastructure around you, don't measure yourself against other people. Everything will happen in its perfect timing so do as much as you can, but don't overexert yourself.
Mia: I felt like you were talking to your younger self then. Is that what you would say if you were talking to your younger self?
Bea: Definitely. I got my niece to recite a speech and it’s literally a message from my inner child.
Mia: What’s the most vulnerable song you've written?
Bea: I think it is on my new EP. It's called “Goodbye”. I had the chord progressions and parts of the songs for a while, but I rewrote it so that the lyrical content were just as strong for this EP. When I finished the song, I remember thinking I don't know if I'll ever write a lyric that is stronger than that, it's just something that's so raw and so uncut.
Mia: What do you think of the UK R&B scene right now?
Bea: I think it's incredible. I love the emphasis on R&B at the moment. I absolutely love it. It feels like we are such a lifetime away from when Covid was around, we're back outside and people are able to experience R&B in its alive sense and that is beautiful.