Interview: Beach House
Tue, 26 Jan 2010 09:19:15
Beach House Videos
Beach House have a dream.
That dream arrives in the form of the ten ethereal pop songs comprising their third full-length offering, Teen Dream [Sub Pop]. The album picks up where 2008's wistful Devotion left off—right in the same aural sleep space that transfixed both critics and fans alike.
Beach House are the rare duo that can sound massive with just a few instruments and a poetic line or two. With an appearance planned for Coachella 2010 among a massive slate of tour dates, Beach House are about to let everyone dream this little dream with them. Let's face it; they are the 21st Century's answer to Mazzy Star…
Beach House singer Victoria Legrand sat down with ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino to discuss Teen Dream, indie flicks and so much more in this exclusive interview.
Close your eyes and let Beach House take you away…
If you were to compare Teen Dream to a movie or a combination of movies what would you compare it to?
[Laughs] Visually, oh man? Off the top of my head, I was just thinking of Lynne Ramsay's Morvern Callar. I would compare Teen Dream to any movie that involves driving, leaving something behind or maybe riding off a cliff—like Thelma and Louise [Laughs].Maybe a movie in the desert, Lawrence of Arabia—I see a lot of open spaces in this record. Maybe The Piano, there's the visual of a beach with just somebody in the middle of it staring at the ocean. On the record, there are things that seem very vast. It could be any movie about being on the edge of something.
Do you tend to watch many movies while writing?
Well, we really like movies, but we don't really have time to watch them [Laughs]. Alex is a big fan of the Japanese director who did Princess Monoke and My Neighbor Totoro, Hayao Miyazaki. He's a huge fan of those films. I tend to like French films or Todd Solonz's work—movies that are about people being a little pervy, a little weird, a little scary and a little quirky [Laughs].
The people in a Todd Solonz film are probably more realistic than your prototypical romcom heroine.
Yeah, I like the realistic, brutal movies. I enjoyed A Serious Man, because I liked the way that it ended. I liked that it just left you saying, "Whoa, that's really intense!" It wasn't courageous for the sake of being courageous, and it wasn't trying to pat you on the back. In this day and age, I think it's better to be honest and maybe be a little bit brutal than to pretend that things aren't changing constantly and at such a rapid rate. I think it's good to embrace the literal tornado. Anything's possible more and more now, so I think it's a great place to be.
If you can capture the idiosyncracies of being human in your music or art, you're truly doing your job.
I agree with you. When someone asks where your inspiration comes from, there's only one answer. It's just from living. It's easy to say, but it's just from living your life and keeping your ears and eyes open to things that are around you because good art comes from the things that people live. A writer will say, "You write what you know about." You take it from there, and it can mean a lot more for people, but there are ways of doing it that are more imaginative. I like to feel something that someone else feels obviously, but then find a way, with my imagination, to extract it to a level that becomes a little more universal and less specific. You want to find something that can maybe last forever, but that's really hard.
That's the quest¸ and you get closer to it with every record.
We are definitely getting closer to something, but I think every time you get closer to that something, you find something else. That's the beauty of making records. You feel something and you get as close to it as possible. Once you feel like you've gotten to that point, it's leading you somewhere else. We're very much in that place now. I feel like we've had Teen Dream for so long already. It's coming out January 26th, but we already feel so many incredible ideas. We're very lucky to do what we do. This is fun to talk to people like you and just chat about creativity.
You have the opportunity to re-assess the process and why you do it. It's because this is fun ultimately.
It is fun! Ultimately, it's about you as a creator of things. In the end, what I love the most is that music is about other people. Once you've made your music and you've recorded it, then you tour it. It's about exchanging with other people and giving them something you've made. You see how your music affects other people. I think, for me, that's the most rewarding feeling ever—watching someone's face. Even if they don't like it, they seem confused or they seem really into it—all of the reactions are really so beautiful. I read some interview of Sean Marshall's the other day. I don't even know how I found it. She was asking, "Why do people record a record and then tour it?" It should be that people tour a record and then record it, because you learn so much about a song once you play it live hundreds of times. I felt like that was a really interesting thought to think about because I learn from people at shows. I see a lot of things. I think it'd be interesting to tour something and then record it because of how much you gain knowledge about what you're doing. It's really wild.
Well the crowd interaction must help the songs evolve on stage.
The crowd does help inform the album. When you record something and you tour it constantly, you hear things that you didn't hear before. I think Teen Dream really is the result of the touring we did because we were hearing things. We were literally hearing sound in different sizes. After playing Devotion, which was a different size record than the first one, we heard a different size record basically. After touring Teen Dream, I'm sure we're going to hear a different size record. Hearing things at a certain level every night, intensity, rhythms that get in your body—some of them get old, some of them start to sound really slow even though a year before they seemed really fast. It's a really interesting process. That's why when everyone says, "Do you think Teen Dream could be your definitive album?" I think, "No, it's the beginning of us learning what definition is." The title Teen Dream means that it's free. It's light and massive at the same time. I don't know if it's genuinely massive, but compared to our other records it is [Laughs].
"Take Care" is the perfect ending to the album.
That song is definitely in its right place at the end. I think it's definitely an intense song. The way that it keeps going until it leaves you or you leave it, means a lot about the future. This record is not a nostalgic record, necessarily. It's not just melancholic. It's not just languid. It's other things, and I think as much as it has more sexuality in it perhaps, it still has darkness in it of course. I'm sure there's still heartbreak. I think there's a little future in it. That's something that I don't think we played with before. I always compare it to the energy of "10 Mile Stereo." It's lancing you into something new or exciting. I don't think that's a specific direction we would go in. For that time, it was giving us an energy that propelled us forward. So, we'll see what happens.
Check out Rick Florino's new novel Dolor available now for FREE here…