V Girls: Baby Queen
The indie hyperpopster is betting on herself
Arabella Latham knows how to grab your attention. Born and raised in South Africa, the London-based singer is reserved and affectionate—she writes songs until 7 a.m., loves poetry, and doesn’t consider herself much of a talker. But her moniker, Baby Queen, is an indie-pop princess with perky blonde pigtails and an electric-pink guitar. When Arabella talks about Baby Queen, she uses the third person. Maybe it’s because she’s too humble to claim the budding-star status and mega fans as her own. Or maybe it’s hard to explain that she was her own inspiration.
Arabella (or Bella, as she’s known at home), was only ten when she found her calling. At first, that calling looked—and sounded—like imitations of Taylor Swift’s country twang, her experimental serenades sung to the strum of beginner guitar chords. But Bella knew the ceiling of South Africa’s music sphere could only rise so high.
The minute she turned 18, Bella was off to London. It’s a time she remembers fondly as “delusional,” racing to the doors of googled record labels with nothing but dreams and demos in hand. Wide-eyed and strong-willed, this was her shot to stake her place on international radars. If only the industry swooned so easily. “In hindsight, I had absolutely no idea what I was stepping into,” Bella says. Seven years later, it seems that edge has done her well. But don’t be fooled. At first, she would have told you differently.
It took a while for Baby Queen to pick up steam, held just behind the takeoff line by walls of shame she’d built herself. She’d done the work to push her music, but had one last hurdle to face: her sexuality. “It felt like the biggest secret in the world,” she laments, remembering high school. “I couldn’t allow my brain to go to a place where I was bisexual.” But London’s reality check was ruthless, unleashing a fearlessness her hometown never could. And in place of haunting judgment, came all-consuming liberation.
The confidence found Baby Queen before it found Bella. “I used to say to my label, ‘I don’t want people to ask me about my sexuality. I don’t want it to define my music,’” she explains. Still, Baby Queen’s music overflowed with honesty, from the yearning metaphors of hit “Colours of You” to the self-deprecating wordplay of last year’s “Lazy.” It was only time she heard her own message.
Now, at 25, you might say the two are more alike than ever. “I often feel that Baby Queen came along and saved me,” she says. In some ways, the stage name draws a line between who she’s been, and who she will become. Baby Queen is growing up, and she’s doing it with dignity.
“Lazy” is now available on all streaming platforms.