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Beach House

Beach House

Monday 17th January, 2011 8:57AM

Beach House released Teen Dream this year to a rapturous critical response. Their third album, it continues the dreamy, multi-layered engagement of previous efforts Devotion and their self titled debut, but adds an inherent pop perspective. UTR caught up with Alex Scally to chat about coming to New Zealand for Laneway, why duos are better and why you can't explain their music with words.

Beach House is coming to New Zealand for Laneway Festival. Are you looking forward to it?

Yes! We were lucky enough to play in Wellington and Auckland in 2008. I feel that we wonít have enough time to be there and explore but Iím really excited to come back!

Youíve been touring for most of 2010, right?

Yep, weíve been touring. Touring is pretty much all weíve done. When not touring weíre usually getting ready for the next tour and trying to sleep and feel like a normal person. The touring was wonderful this year, we learned a lot and played a lot of great shows and learned a lot about playing music live. We got kind of destroyed physically but it was awesome - we played 160 shows this year!

And you were touring Teen Dream?

Well after touring our previous record we got home and we had a similarly long abusive year and we were just really excited with a lot of what weíd learned and we were really sick of the old songs which always happens and were pumped on the new record. We had plenty of time off and in that time we just got really excited and could write songs that we believed in and loved and wanted to play live. And you know there was a feeling around that time of absolute excitement which is where a lot of the energy from the record came out of. The passion and excitement were part of a rational belief at that time that something amazing was going to happen.

I think that makes a lot of sense for where we were and what we were saying.

Tell me about the ideas you were exploring on Teen Dream:

Whenever we talk about music weíre really careful to not be specific because thatís not how much is for us and thatís definitely not how our music is. Feelings that people have are incredibly complex and you canít talk about them in such simple terms. Like when somebody says ĎIím sadí itís like Ďoh yeah, youíre sadí, but youíre also feeling the most complex thing thatís a combination of maybe pride and wonder and nostalgia and things. I think we really try to mirror how we feel or mirror how people feel. Itís not an effort to mirror like a broken heart or something that specific, itís to make music thatís inspired. When it feels right and when itís exciting itís because itís full of some feeling and itís not easy to say what that feeling is or whether itís one thing or another. Itís just whatís being written and itís defining itself. We try to make songs that are complex and multi-dimension. We aim to be a mirror of reality, not just like ĎParty in the USAí by Miley Cyrus thatís just like a dumb anthem with no meaning or anything.

The relationship between the two of you seems really intrinsic. Every Beach House song sounds like a new, overarching being rather than a sum of its parts. Has it always been like this?

Yeah I am so lucky for my musical relationship with Victoria in that ever since the first song we ever wrote itís just been effortless. One things just leads into another naturally, like one of us has an idea and then the other one has an idea and it just grows very naturally. She has always done the lyrics and Iíve never disliked the lyrics sheís written. Itís a very natural thing and itís like a perfect balance so far Ė I hope it continues this way. I certainly wouldnít want to make music on my own at this point. You know if I ever put out a solo record donít get it. What I do naturally has been made so much better by what she does and hopefully vice versa. Like we fill in each others blanks and itís a very lucky thing. I notice a lot of the time there are musicians who are really awesome but canít seem to figure out what to do with all of their ability. I sometimes think thatís because they havenít found that other thing where it combines to make something way better than what either person can do on their own.

Some people would argue that a two piece was limiting, but Beach House obviously doesnít think that?

I think itís the opposite for us. Itís great because a lot of times when I hear bands Iíll hear one of the instruments and Iíll be like ĎOh thatís the bassí and itís like that bass is just playing because heís in the band right now - it doesnít mean anything in itself and itís not adding to the song. I think that happens a lot with bands of four people - everyone always wants to be involved but often times the song only needs two things and what do those other three things do they just play for the sake of playing? I feel like everything else just gets in the way.

Beach House formed and lives in Baltimore, why do you think there is such an amazing musical and creative community there at the moment?

Itís a combination of things. I think one of the main things about it is itís really cheap to live here - itís by far the cheapest East Coast city there is. We have a massive practise space and it costs nothing and thatís a place where we can work all the time. Before music was our living and we were touring all the time we could come home and get by working 20 hours a week here. Itís not like NYC where you literally have to work 40 to 50 hours just to pay your rent. Also there just arenít a lot of jobs here so it canít ever become one of those cities where people move here because they hear itís cool and then ruin it. It canít do that because there arenít opportunities - the economy is like stuck and it has this size and it just canít get any bigger so itís just kind of a great place in that way.

So what are the future plans for Beach House after you finish the Laneway tour?

Weíre going to get home and wait for the writing process to be really exciting and inspired. Either that will happen really quickly or it will take a long time and when weíre really inspired and excited weíll put out another album really quickly but if for some reason it stops flowing weíll just wait until it happens again. Who knows, maybe it will never happen again you know musicís like that it really has to be real or else itís not even worth doing so weíre just going to wait.

Courtney Sanders


Beach House play both Laneway Festival on Jan 31st in Auckland and Laneway Presents on Feb 1st in Wellington - tickets on sale now, follow website link below for more info.


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