Bambie Thug: “I’m hellbent on doing what I want.”
You’ve met Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup. Get ready to meet Bambie, the Irish-born non-binary “witch-bitch” on a mission to shake up the alternative music scene.
They may be doe-eyed, but Bambie Thug packs a powerful punch: “I’m a nice person and all, but if you wrong me, my lyrical fist will punch you in the face!” From trap metal bangers and diss tracks to sex-positive anthems and heavy ballads, Bambie Thug’s genre-defying repertoire has a new generation of goths under their avant-garde, hyper-punk spell. Having already amassed over 32,000 Spotify listeners in under two years, you don’t need a crystal ball to see that Bambie Thug’s rise to stardom is in the cards.
Trained in everything from ballet and theatre to plant Reiki, this pixie-like powerhouse is multi-talented and ready to break the chains of conformity. Their tracks boldly preach themes of self-love, spirituality, and the power of the pussy with refreshing honesty and razor-sharp lyricism and, as an independent artist, Bambie Thug is not afraid to say things straight: “The industry is fucked. It’s not good for your soul.”
This self-confessed “Goth Gaga” has already made a name for themselves as a writer for many other nu gen rising stars. They recently unleashed their latest track, ‘Egregore.’ ‘Egregore’ combines Bambie’s bewitching toplines and guitar-driven melodies with a high camp, high art music video that sees them transformed into HIM, the genderbending Powerpuff Girls villain with a motive to destroy.
Bambie Thug’s Wr0t-witch cult is growing. Join me as I catch up with them in their East-London flat for an intimate discussion on heartbreak, healing, and Disney’s sexiest villains.
Hey babe, I’ve got a bunch of vegan snacks for us to munch on.
You’re sweet – thank you! Let’s get straight into it. I know that ‘egregor’ is a term from the occult referring to a thought-form or entity that takes on a life of its own when fed by collective energy. The Easter Bunny, the Grim Reaper and the Devil can all be considered egregors, but what does the term mean for you and your track?
The egregore in my track refers to the self-destructive behaviours that are glamourised in the music industry and in the world around us. It’s ridiculous really, just how normalised drug-abuse and dangerous behaviour is in my line of work. These narratives become a thought-form and they dictate what is expected of you as an artist. I guess my egregore is also a metaphor for conformity. Even though I am always shouting a message of “fuck the system” through my music, I’m still constantly forced into certain moulds by society. People perceive me in a certain way because I’m a femme presenting queer person, but I’m sick of people telling me how I should look or how I should act, and I’m sick of the narrative that rock’n’roll is all about sex and drugs when all I want is to be clean and happy and healthy…mentally and physically.
It's an old trope, isn’t it? That rock musicians revel in chaos.
There just comes a point in time when you need to accept that you’re getting older. Like, I’m not old…but I realised a while ago that it was time to stop with the games. I wanted to become a better person and to have better love for myself and doing that required a certain amount of saying “no”. It’s almost as if it’s not cool to be mindful of your health in this industry, so I had to cut the toxicity out of my life. That’s all I want to preach about.
There are two voices at odds with one another in ‘Egregore’. Is this a confrontation? You versus the untenable and, at times dangerous, demands of the musician’s lifestyle?
Yeah, for sure. When society demands that you fit a certain mould or actively encourages harmful behaviour it makes you question your worth. It can make you hate yourself. The track is a way for me to acknowledge that the nasty voice in my head telling me these things is not my own. It’s been poisoned. The voice of the egregor – the low parts that go “do it more” – were actually done by Cassyette. I haven’t mastered that low growl yet!
Cool! You’ve worked with Cassyette before, right?
Yes, I wrote a lot of Cassyette’s earlier stuff like ‘Dear Goth,’ ‘Petrichor’ and ‘Prison Purse’. We’ve been working together quite closely for a while. Humans are a collaborative species and beautiful things can come from working with friends on projects. The video for ‘Egregore’ was so collaborative, too. It’s interesting; I often find that the people who match with me on a creative level also match with me on a soul level.
The music video for ‘Egregore’ is instantly iconic. It’s beautiful and disturbing in equal measure. What was the process behind becoming HIM, the notorious cartoon villain that terrorises The Powerpuff Girls?
We shot the video in Margate with Vakul Film, who have been my main visual collaborators from the start. The whole thing was very DIY. Gus Sharpe - the creative director - and I had talked about the idea for a while and, before the shoot we stayed up all night making the claw out of foam. Gus cut the shapes, I sewed them together, and Sophie Gouk – the makeup artist – painted it. Before moving to London, I was at ballet school. Two weeks before an important performance, my dance partner dropped me during a lift and my arm broke in five places. That was a real turning point in my life because I couldn’t be a fulltime dancer after that. I’m really conscious of that arm even now; it doesn’t have the same strength. I carry it differently. HIM’s claw went on that arm, and it felt like a sort of shield. Making it by hand then wearing it in the video on my metal-plated-terminator-arm made it feel like a significant act of self-repair. On the day of the shoot, Sophie painted me red. It took hours. We made the beard out of hair extensions. In the cartoon, HIM wears this fluffy pink skirt thing, but I didn’t want that. I wanted it to be more high fashion so we made a pink merkin instead. It felt like a case of less is more. I just used my own belt for the top. We didn’t want it to be a sexy cosplay, per say. We wanted the look to be avant-garde. It’s funny, but I never thought I was hot enough to do any modelling or high fashion styling because I had such negative self-talk when I was younger. Then I realised: “fuck this – I’m a really good clothes hanger!” I owe a lot of being able to take good pictures to my ballet training. The discipline involved in that made me hyper-aware of what my body looks like without being in front of a mirror. Working with Luke Nugent, who took the stills from the shoot, is easy because he can make anyone look fabulous.
I think you all got it spot on! HIM is a gender bending half Satan, half Santa Claus figure and I think in himself, is a kind of egregore. Why did you choose to embody this character and what does he represent for you?
I have always said that my music is like The Powerpuff Girls on acid. I don’t remember if I consciously chose to become HIM because, as you say, he is an egregore in the Powerpuff world, but it fits right? He is totally androgynous too, which is funny because his name is literally a gendered pronoun…
I did some research, and his name is supposedly an acronym for His Infernal Majesty…
THAT IS SO HOT. THAT MAKES IT EVEN BETTER.
So, he’s royalty... from hell… and he’s a sexy, androgynous icon. That fits your vibe.
Totally. I wanted to become a character that was unashamedly camp and turn it into something artistic and high fashion. It's the boots, the snatched waist, the gorgeous chin… like, I don’t know what he is, but I just wanted to become him. HIM is camp and camp is high fashion; it’s all art. Anything that has a shock factor, or anything that stands out from the crowd is what I’m drawn to. I will never conform. Lady Gaga was a huge inspiration for me growing up. I think if Gaga and the creature from The Ring had a baby, it’d be me. I’ve always identified with the weirdos and freaks and as a kid, I always felt sorry for the villains in cartoons. I felt an affinity towards them. I just think that the villains are always the best characters because they are so bold and flamboyant. They are unapologetically themselves. People who live like that are so often the ones who have had to combat a lot of trauma. They must have been through some shit. People are going to say I’m some sort of Satan worshipper for that.
Do you get that a lot?
I haven’t had it yet, but when it does happen, I’ll say yes.
So many villains are overtly queer-coded. Did you know that Ursula, the sea-witch from ‘The Little Mermaid,’ was based on a drag queen called Divine?
No way! I love Disney. I think that might surprise people. I can probably put on any classic Disney film and recite it word for word. Disney shaped me so much. I actually used to work as a Disney princess. I would dress up as Ariel and go to events for sick and disabled children. I also played Elsa once at a Facebook HQ “bring your kids to work day”. I do question why it’s always the villains that are queer-coded, though…
Yeah, it feels like the message is that if you’re queer, you’re therefore evil and must be overcome by the good, heteronormative hero.
Boring! We should be so past that now. Unfortunately, the world doesn’t seem to be catching up. We’re going backwards in representation in many ways. Queer people are either made to be invisible or the villain. I want people to look at me, though, and if I have an idea, I’m going to do it regardless of who it might upset or what anyone might think. I’m not going to walk on eggshells. Anyway, the other characters are uninteresting, honestly. The queer-coded characters are the funniest, they have the best songs… They are serving the hardest and it’s awesome. Maybe it’s just us queer people who fancy the villains. They’re always goth as fuck!
Was becoming HIM a subconscious act of reclamation, then?
Yeah, I think so. We’re both queer weirdo shapeshifters.
Oh yeah! HIM sometimes transforms into a giant, muscular version of himself. I suppose it’s his hyper-masculine form. How do you see yourself as a shapeshifter?
When I’m on stage, I present hyper-femme. In day-to-day life, I sometimes wear a wig and people tell me I’m gorgeous. When I’m not wearing it and they see my shaved head, I get nothing. There’s something in that. It makes me hyper-aware of how I’m treated in comparison to other non-binary and trans artists. Non-binary people are often measured by their androgyny, which is bullshit because what does it even mean to be non-binary enough? People are often confused by androgyny, I think.
Probably because they can’t categorise it. It doesn’t fit the boxed-in binary.
Exactly. I don’t give a fuck, though. I don’t want to hide away; I don’t know anyone who’s doing anything like me right now. I’ve been working my ass off for years…I’m tired of seeing mediocre shit blasted into stardom. I’m ready to do it all and I want to be centre stage as I’m doing it. A year ago, I would have been ashamed to even say something like that that because it sounds egotistical. But it’s not, it’s about recognising that I’ve done a lot of work on myself. I used to be afraid to take up space or speak my truth. But I really don’t see what this culture of actively putting people down is all about. We should be parading people. We should be celebrating people for their individuality. Don’t get me wrong, though. I’m really nice and all, but if you wrong me, my lyrical fist will punch you in the face! I don’t think people are doing lyrics like me right now. It’s the Irish feist in me.
You’re right, there is a culture of bringing others down for being unashamedly confident, proud, or sexy. It’s a radical act to embrace loving yourself for who you are. In the new track you sing, “I wanna love myself, be better than I am.” How do you go about doing that? Do you have a self-care routine for when you’re feeling down?
I have a history of punishing myself, and I’m still trying to unlearn these behaviours. Finding those paths towards self-healing has been a fairly recent journey for me. It’s probably only in the last four or five months that I’ve become any good at it. I realised after a bad break up that I hadn’t loved myself for 29 years of my life. I was giving all my love to someone who didn’t see my worth. But I know now that I deserve so much love because I give so much. I’m a Pisces; I feel things deeply. After that heartbreak, I made the decision to radically love myself. Sleep is so important for me now. Baths help a lot, too, and sometimes I put on ‘It’s All Coming Back to Me Now’ by Celine Dion and lie on the floor and cry. It’s so dramatic.
Does music factor into your self-care routine?
Music has also always been my shoulder to cry on because it’s the only way I can really sit down and assess the state of my brain. Writing is a necessity for me. It’s entirely cathartic. Having lots of friends who are also in the music industry is helpful, too. They understand me on a level that others just can’t. Although the alt-scene can be very, very toxic, I have a circle of friends who are really good people. It’s a small but mighty community. I’m very careful about who I let into my little world nowadays. Maybe it’s a weird, witchy Pisces thing, but I get gut feelings about people. I can sniff out the good from the bad. I think people with vaginas – regardless of whether you’re transgender, non-binary, or cisgender – are born with innate intuition. That mechanism down there is otherworldly and powerful. I stan the vagina.
That pussy power message is prevalent in some of your earlier tracks, like ‘P.M.P.,’ which is a hard-hitting, sex positive anthem!
Yeah, I love pussy power.
The lyrics in ‘Egregore’ are more vulnerable. Does the release of this track mark a conscious shift towards a more emotional side of Bambie Thug?
While people might think that the vulnerability in ‘Egregore’ is something new for my music, it’s not. My early stuff was almost entirely about trauma. I was very honest. But I listened to my managers too much at the start of my career when I was still a bit naïve. They said it was too “political.” Now I’m hellbent on doing what I want. My Christmas song - ‘Merry Christmas Baby’ – is very sad. We did a BBC Maida Vale session last year and we performed a stripped back version of it. That was a super emotional experience because I had just gone through a really toxic breakup that shattered my trust and sense of self. That person broke me down so much. It will take me a long, long time to trust anyone again relationship-wise but as I’m processing my trauma, I just keep writing.
So, your honesty was considered unpalatable?
Yeah, it was “too much” and therefore unmarketable. So, when Bambie Thug was born, I started out with more in your face, catchy tracks. You need that “look at me” moment when you’re first breaking into the scene. ‘Egregore’ still has that hard, punchy Bambie Thug sound to it, but the lyrics explore pain. A lot of rock music is deeply sad when you listen to it properly. There’s a time and a place for songs that are sad as a whole package. You know…slow, haunting melodies over emotive piano. There’s also value in being vulnerable with your words over a heavy track that makes you want to thrash around. Humans hold so much trauma in the body. When animals experience trauma, they physically shake. It’s a kind of release. We don’t do that. We seize up and hold everything inside. Music, and being able to move to music, is therapeutic. The combination of sad lyrics and a hard track is very powerful. We have to shake the hurt out of our bodies.
A track like ‘Egregore’ connects mind and body in that way, for sure. It’s the sort of track that could leave you crying on the dancefloor; you want to scream the lyrics and shake yourself loose at the same time. There’s a moment in the song that sounds like you’re speaking in tongues. Can you tell me about that? What does it mean?
That’s a spell. “Neah haugh dish dish Nach Elam.” It’s a bit like moldavite; it invites negativity first, forcing you to address all the bad stuff so that you can cleanse yourself of it all. It’s a protection spell, I suppose. Spells are all about rhyming and timing, so they fit well in songs. In a way, songs are spells because they can speak things into existence. I’m still waiting for my song ‘Tsunami’ to come to fruition; that song’s all about power and getting what you want.
Have you always felt connected to the occult?
I think I’ve always felt like I was capable of magic. In Ireland, I lived in the countryside, so I spent a lot of time in nature. I was this weird pixie child. I made potions in the garden and talked to trees; I grew up hunting for fairy circles and playing Lord of the Rings in the back garden with sticks. Ireland is an inherently magical place. Living like that is a gift for your imagination. When I moved to Muswell Hill after university, I made friends with a group of witchy ladies. They took me under their wing at a time when I was feeling lost. We would meditate together, and they introduced me to crystals. That time reawakened the spirituality and mysticism that I lost as a young adult in the confines of concrete cities. I’m always yearning for trees and grass and a garden. I’m good at growing things. I would love to grow vegetables. I literally stuck my finger in the soil of a plant pot the other day because I needed to feel close to the earth. I live in a top floor flat so it was the best I could get at that moment.
It's funny you say that because I often talk about myself as if I’m a plant. You know those days where nothing feels good, and you know you’re not looking after yourself? For me, at least, it’s usually because I’m neglecting a core need. Food, water, sunlight, sleep… I sometimes fall into neglecting my plant self.
I’m such a neglectful owner of my own plant! I have a tattoo that says: “drink water.” It’s right there on my arm and I still forget to do it.
Anyway, people are quick to dismiss magic -
- I know! I’m not mad. I know you can’t move shit with your eyes or whatever. That’s not the realm we live in.
What do you believe in?
I believe in energy and karma and manifestation. You can incite change in your life through your words and actions. Even if what you’re trying to manifest or do a spell for doesn’t come back to you in the way you expect, it can provoke a change within yourself that is still productive. I’m also very careful with my words nowadays because words are spells. Words hold so much power. I do a lot of sigil magic, too. There’s a lot of sigils out there that you can use, but I also make my own. The personal sigil that I use feels very powerful. I put it on HIM’s lobster claw, so it’s there in the music video if you look carefully. I’m learning to read tarot, too, and I did a Reiki course a while ago. I’d like to get back into that. Magic takes me back to the art of play and what’s the harm in that? Let us create potions, let us play. Everyone is inherently magic. We all have so much power. It’s about how you use it. Oh! I’ve also put a lot of people in my freezer...
Haha! Not literally. It’s a spell I do to freeze people out of my psyche.
Tell me what you want ‘Egregore’ to say to people. What’s the message of the track?
Sure, we all have demons. But you are not your thoughts. You are not what the world is telling you you are. You are not what has happened to you. You are not your trauma. You are not your issues. You are completely capable of pulling yourself up, finding radical self-love, and blossoming.
Anything else to add, Bambie?
TRANS RIGHTS NOW!
Photographs: Luke Nugent @lukenugentstudio Videography: Violet Corentic @vakul_film Hair & Make-up: Sophie Gouk @mackerelmonday
Styling & Creative Direction: Gus Sharpe @gussharpe
Find Bambie on Spotify and Instagram and listen to their new single 'Egregore' here.