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Beach House

Beach House

Interviewed by
Courtney Sanders
Tuesday 24th April, 2012 11:54AM

Beach House return this month with their fourth studio album, the expansive, mystical Bloom. UTR caught up with Victoria Le Grand about the ride since Teen Dream, what the new album is about and why, for them, writing their fourth album is the just the same as it ever was.

Hi Victoria. What has it been like for you guys since releasing Teen Dream? It's arguably your breakthrough album right?

I don’t call it that, I call it our third record and this, Bloom, is our fourth album. We’ve been a band since 2006 so I don’t really use words like that to describe the music that we make. We’ve consistently been working really hard since we started the band and a lot of things have remained the same.

I just think that the way we work has been very consistent and we’ve got four records now. We simply care more now than ever before; we've just continued doing the same things we’ve been doing since the beginning.

I wasn’t trying to argue that you haven’t been a hard-working band, I was simply saying your schedule must have been crazy and it must have been difficult to step outside of that and thing about another album. Tell me about writing Bloom; was there anything in particular you wanted to explore?

We’re not reactionary about our records so basically we recorded Teen Dream and then we had new ideas. Some of these ideas started over two years ago and we’re the kind of people who are always thinking of things and coming up with new ideas. I think our creativity is quite fluid and I don’t think it ever stopped for us.

We’ve always been a touring band and with the last album cycle we just wanted to tour a lot. We played 180 shows and by the end of that we had like 30 ideas for songs so we were ready way way back to start working on the new record. We never took time off and patted ourselves on the back.

We didn’t see Teen Dream as a massive success in our eyes. We were excited by a few things but we never stopped moving forward and you know when we came home in March 2011 we’d been thinking about making a new record for at least a year. So maybe for the rest of the world it seems like ‘oh how did they make a record so quickly’ but we were already thinking about a new record when we were finished recording Teen Dream, so it’s not like some big shock for us or anything, it’s just very natural.

We had more ideas for Bloom for any other album. We had over 30 ideas and only ten of those ideas mdae it onto the final product.

Let’s talk about some of those ideas. When you’re thinking about a new album, does it start in one central place, or is it more organic than that?

There’s no central idea, each song is it’s own universe and they all have interesting structures and imaginary narratives. There’s a lot of depth on this album and I think the album speaks for itself as an album and the songs together as a complete work, much the way we’ve always felt about music in general.

I think every album we’ve made we’ve been very adament about considering the collections, down to the titling and every single piece of every record we’ve always thought of. Bloom is no different in how much care we put into, for example, the sequencing and titles, how much care we put into the lyrics; we just pushed ourselves a little bit further in terms of structuring.

The core of Beach House is still Alex and I writing and we’ve gotten more intense as we’ve gotten older and we’re getting better at being able to make powerful songs and we’ll see what happens. The day we stop making music and stop creating we’ll stop but there’s not one literal small thing linking these songs, they fit in this very – it’s hard to put words to it. When you’re making an album you don’t really realize you have an album until you’ve got five or six songs and then a few big things have to happen before you know that you have ‘the album’. There’s breakthroughs and there’s crushing moments and making an album is an intense process and it’s also a very vulnerable one because you never know what’s going to happen. As artists we’re giving ourselves completely to everything we’re making and I think Bloom is the most time we’ve ever spent on something, and we're continuing to grow as artists - that’s all I can say.

Reflecting on the finished product of Bloom, is there any 'glue' holding it together? Any theme or sound or inspiration that, in retrospect, ties the album together?

The glue is Alex and I and I think that’s really obvious; our love of songs and melodies and our love of the instruments we use - our lives in general you know. Bloom is a huge expression of many forces in life, in getting older too, and that’s all I can say as an artist.

We feel compelled to make music because we can’t help ourselves; we are constantly driven to express what’s happening in our minds and lives through music and I find that trying to explain the record in words shouldn’t be my job even though I try. In music journalism whatever I say, if I say ‘banana, chocolate’, those are the only three words that are repeated about the album whereas if you listen to the album you’re gonna come up with six different words that I wouldn’t disagree with.

I think more than anything - and Alex and I wil be saying this to the day we die - we just want people to experience the album and listen to it and not just settle for ‘it sounds like this and this’ because everything we’ve felt, everything we’ve lived, everything that almost killed us and everything that’s imagerinary in our minds we expressed in the lyrics and structures. It’s just very hard to be overarching; it’s all in there.

You guys have an absolutely respect and reliance on each other, tell me how you met each other and discovered this intrinsic relationship.

It is magical and it’s rare and I’m lucky I have this unique thing with this person. We met through a friend of mine I was playing music with when I moved to Baltimore over eight years ago and he introduced me to Alex as a musician that we needed in another project and that was it.

We met because of music and we’ve been playing music ever since. Writing music with him is the most natural thing that has happened between me and someone else. It had nothing to do with the fact that he was a boy and I was a woman, it was just very kindred and easy. I think the first song we ever wrote was ‘Saltwater’ on the first record. We just did it because we wanted to do it, and that’s the same thing we’ve been doing ever since.

We made Devotion because we were tired of the first album, we made Teen Dream because we were tired of Devotion. We do what we want to do and we live it completely and it becomes very physical in us and it takes many different forms and when we’re done with that we already have inklings of the future. That’s all we’ve ever done is follow this invisible, intangible inlking that we have. Why do any of this? Because little signs happen and we’re lucky that people like it at all, but that isn’t the real reason it’s being made. It’s not beause of other people, it’s because there’s thing in us that we can’t stop doing.

It sounds like the eight years hasn’t affected the way you approach the music at all?

Not really, everything has just deepened. The more experience you have you become better at what you do. We were very exacting and diligent about htis album; things we would have let slide in the past we didn’t do that on this record. We would remix songs or if we recorded a couple of hours of takes and we didn’t like it we’d go in the next day and re-do them. Those are the skills you develop with time and it’s something we have to respect as artists because time is the most valuable thing in an artist life. Not forcing it but using it as a tool. We have more skills now in all of the realms; in singing, arrangements, Alex’s production and production ideas. We as a band have very clear ideas about production; we’re not asking a producer to help us with our sound, we make the producer understand our sound. Our control freakness has gotten worse.

Ultimately it gets better and worse and the highs are higher than ever and the lows are lower than ever. Bloom is an intensification of many many things and also a gigantic expression of some feelings that are hard to say in words. It’s in the music.

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