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Interview
Beach House

Beach House

date
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 won’t have enough time to be there and explore but I’m really excited to come back!

You’ve been touring for most of 2010, right?

Yep, we’ve been touring. Touring is pretty much all we’ve done. When not touring we’re 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 we’d 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 we’re really careful to not be specific because that’s not how much is for us and that’s definitely not how our music is. Feelings that people have are incredibly complex and you can’t talk about them in such simple terms. Like when somebody says ‘I’m sad’ it’s like ‘oh yeah, you’re sad’, but you’re also feeling the most complex thing that’s 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. It’s not an effort to mirror like a broken heart or something that specific, it’s to make music that’s inspired. When it feels right and when it’s exciting it’s because it’s full of some feeling and it’s not easy to say what that feeling is or whether it’s one thing or another. It’s just what’s being written and it’s defining itself. We try to make songs that are complex and multi-dimension. We aim to be a mirror of reality, not just like ‘Party in the USA’ by Miley Cyrus that’s 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 it’s 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 I’ve never disliked the lyrics she’s written. It’s a very natural thing and it’s like a perfect balance so far – I hope it continues this way. I certainly wouldn’t want to make music on my own at this point. You know if I ever put out a solo record don’t 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 it’s a very lucky thing. I notice a lot of the time there are musicians who are really awesome but can’t seem to figure out what to do with all of their ability. I sometimes think that’s because they haven’t 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 doesn’t think that?

I think it’s the opposite for us. It’s great because a lot of times when I hear bands I’ll hear one of the instruments and I’ll be like ‘Oh that’s the bass’ and it’s like that bass is just playing because he’s in the band right now - it doesn’t mean anything in itself and it’s 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?

It’s a combination of things. I think one of the main things about it is it’s really cheap to live here - it’s by far the cheapest East Coast city there is. We have a massive practise space and it costs nothing and that’s 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. It’s not like NYC where you literally have to work 40 to 50 hours just to pay your rent. Also there just aren’t a lot of jobs here so it can’t ever become one of those cities where people move here because they hear it’s cool and then ruin it. It can’t do that because there aren’t opportunities - the economy is like stuck and it has this size and it just can’t get any bigger so it’s just kind of a great place in that way.

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

We’re 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 we’re really inspired and excited we’ll put out another album really quickly but if for some reason it stops flowing we’ll just wait until it happens again. Who knows, maybe it will never happen again you know music’s like that it really has to be real or else it’s not even worth doing so we’re just going to wait.

Courtney Sanders

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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.

 

links
lanewayfestival.co.nz


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