Bella Latham has long believed in her songwriting and composing abilities—even when it took others longer to recognize and amplify her talents. As a 10-year-old in Durban, South Africa, she learned to play piano by ear, and created compositions which she would then memorize and play repeatedly. She also wrote poetry that translated well to lyrics. After high school, she moved to London to pursue music, where she developed her first project, Baby Queen.
“I came to London with a suitcase and 20 demo CDs, and nobody gave a shit because they were really bad,” she explained to For the Record. “I realized how difficult it was going to be to actually succeed. So, I decided, in order to do that, I had to get a lot better, work a lot harder, and really lean into what was unique about me. I did that, I found the sound, and then Baby Queen was born.”
In those early days, finding the sound came quickly, but Baby Queen didn’t quite have an audience. Everything changed after the artist was featured heavily in the hit Netflix series Heartstopper, which follows two high school boys who fall for each other, and who have the full support and love of their families and group of LGBTQIA+ friends and allies. The show was resonant for Bella, who had struggled for a long time to name and accept her own queer sexuality.
Heartstopper fans quickly fell in love with Baby Queen’s raw, honest lyrics and built a strong, intimate, and fun relationship with the artist. (Fans recently made a now-favorite meme of hers, which features an inhaler marked with her most recent single, “Quarter Life Crisis,” symbolizing its vitality to their physical well-being.)
This month, Baby Queen is also Spotify’s GLOW spotlight artist and part of our year-round campaign. We’ll support Baby Queen on our flagship GLOW playlist, as well as through billboards and other efforts. This comes ahead of the November release of Baby Queen’s first studio album. She spoke with For the Record about her GLOW ambassadorship, fans, and Heartstopper.
Baby Queen is a lyrically focused project. What is it about Baby Queen lyrics that resonate so strongly with your fans?
When I started releasing music as Baby Queen, I hadn’t been in love—or falling out of love—for two years prior to that. A lot of music is about relationships, but that’s not what I had to draw from during this time. It gives you the most feeling and the greatest urge to sit down and write music. So it’s been difficult, not having any of that.
But during this time, I’ve really looked at myself and my face in the mirror and tried to unpack things about myself and tried to be very honest. I really love being so honest that the listener might hear it and feel uncomfortable, or say “Oh, did she really just say that?” And I think the reason people have connected to it is because I just have been really honest about some of the really difficult experiences I’ve had and the difficult parts of growing up and society and the world that we live in. I think that my music is something that young people can listen to and feel like they are being heard, or like the thoughts in their mind are being said out loud.
What are Baby Queen fans like?
They’re really similar to me. That’s been really amazing because I feel less alone by finding this community. They’re really funny, they have great emotional depth, and they think about life deeply. They’re overthinkers. They’re people just like me, who have struggled, and felt alone, and a lot of them are part of the LGBTQIA+ community. I feel there are a lot of them who are trying to find their way through life and find out where they belong. And I feel like we’ve almost been doing that together, which has been amazing.
How does music empower queer communities?
In your upbringing as a queer person, you can feel quite isolated. And you’re quite lucky if you’re living in a metropolitan city and there are more versions of “you” that you can relate to. But most queer people are born in small towns and don’t have that. So finding an artist you really connect with, or a TV show or anything, opens up an entire world. That’s what queer artists like Haley Kiyoko and Troye Sivan were to me. When I was struggling with my queer identity when I was younger, I felt like there was something wrong with me, I felt a bit trapped. Music provides an escape, a hope, a dream, to express your identity and live the life you want to live.
Speaking of TV shows, your music has been featured in Netflix’s Heartstopper. What has that relationship and its impact been like?
Really surreal. It has been a really natural organic pairing. They—Patrick, the producer and Alice, the writer of the books—heard one of my songs on a playlist and invited me down to watch the first three episodes. I had no idea what it was or what it would become. But I wrote “Colours of You” for the first series. And after that it felt like I could breathe a sigh of relief for the first time in my career.
The week when the show came out last year was the most insane. We were all in shock that music could be so directly linked and have such a spillover from the fandom into the soundtrack of a show, so it’s been surreal.
What does it mean to GLOW?
What it means to GLOW is to radiate. I feel like people really glow when they are doing what they love and free themselves of all fear and overthinking and can really immerse themselves in the present and doing something they love. People radiate the most when they’re talking about something they’re really passionate about. That’s when someone genuinely physically glows.
I feel like the moment I glow the most is when I’m on stage. Because I’m not thinking about anything other than being immersed, in that moment of doing what I love.
Stream Baby Queen on the flagship GLOW playlist.