This interview is with Victoria Legrande from Beach House, and it was done in December for the January Totally Dublin which is still circulating around the place if you’re in Dublin and haven’t read it. I liked this one, except she didn’t like being called fuzzy, and being from Baltimore doesn’t automatically make a person a Wire fan.
I wanted to ask you how you feel about the reaction to your album leaking.
I feel positive about the album leaking, because it’s ultimately a really flattering thing when you feel like people are excited to hear your record, and they can’t wait till it comes out. That’s ultimately a really positive thing. It also generated a lot of excitement that otherwise wouldn’t be happening. So I think it’s ultimately a positive thing.
There’s almost an impression that you’re the band for 2010.
Really? That’s kind of intense. I think there’s so many bands, that’s kind of a grandiose statement. I hope that’s not the case, I hope we’re not the band for 2010. I just hope we have a really good year. We’re really excited about touring, we can’t wait to make these songs come to life. Thanks for the compliment.
What’s your impression of the differences between Teen Dream and Devotion?
One of the differences, I feel, is that we had a lot more time to work on Teen Dream. Devotion is a record we were writing on and off through periods of touring, so it was kind of a fragmented process, and then the recording process took about three weeks. It was a lot shorter. We’re almost lucky that that record happened because of how much time management was going on, whereas with Teen Dream, we toured a tonne, and then we returned last winter and we basically had nothing to do but completely be dedicated to the songs that we had stored up while touring. We had a month for the actual recording process, and we also had a bit more money to spend on taking our time. I think that also allowed us to be able to more fully realise the record, to really get what we envisioned out of it. So I think time has a lot to do with it.
I read in an old interview on an Irish blog [Musical Rooms] that your four track was the most important piece of equipment you had. Does that still hold true?
The four track is still important, and it’s still essentially the most important because it’s where we started. There’s always four track on our record. It’s a very important ingredient, it’s the spine, where things are grounded. But with Teen Dream, it’s not a lo-fi record like the first record which was foggy and really hazy. This is like a hi-fi record, there’s a lot more clarity. But the four track is still the heart of the band, definitely. One of the many, there are a few, our organs, the instruments we love. Beach House couldn’t be Beach House without these elements, so, one of the many hearts. We’re never gonna ditch things that have worked for us, but we’re always gonna try and challenge ourselves to see what we can make from what we’ve always used. My white keyboard that I had on the first record is still used on Teen Dream. We try and challenge ourselves.
In another old interview you said that you were tired of being called languid, and that when you made a new record there’d be new adjectives. What are the adjectives you’re expecting to hear for the next year, then?
New adjectives. Sexual. Obsessive, rhythmic. I think that there are a lot more dynamics to this record, and I think that the record has a lot of different motions to it. There are a lot of fluid elements to it that aren’t fluid the way Devotion was, where things are kind of all the same level, they don’t ever go very high or very low. And I feel like this record will give new adjectives other than languid and things like that because it is different. It’s got more life in it, and I think that’s a result of how much energy we put in. Creating a volcano basically, a nine-month long volcano. Words like languid, we’ve heard those before. But you know, we have a DVD with the record that I think is as important as the album, it’s not a bonus thing. There are ten different artists that we picked, we gave them each a song and what we got back is a curation of videos that are very exciting. They’re all different and they all give a completely new vision to go with our music. That’s also gonna really help contribute to people experiencing the record and coming up with new ways to talk about it. So, like I said, sexual, dark, obsessive. People are gonna have a lot of new words to think about.
Was that an intentional thing, to change perceptions?
The intent is not, you know, ‘let’s change how people think of Beach House’. It’s more, ‘let’s make this exciting, let’s open it up, let’s see what more we can bring to our world’. It’s not about changing people, it’s about giving something more to people, giving them another way of experiencing the record. So I think we’re opening it up, we’re growing. It’s not necessarily about trying to convince people. We’re not trying to not be the dream-pop thing, the dream word is something that’s always going to be part of our music, and it’s not something that we’re avoiding, we’re just trying to give new energy to people.
Do you see Beach House as part of a larger movement toward nostalgia or some kind of fuzzy memory in music at the moment? That would maybe include yourselves, The Antlers, Grizzly Bear and others.
I think that all music is a memory trigger, except for maybe cash money rap. We all share that ability to make music that makes people feel… things… but I don’t feel fuzzy at all. I don’t think this record is a fuzzy record. I think it’s very dynamic and very intense, and it’s not just about nostalgia. And the title is not an ode to being a teen, or the past. It’s not a longing for the past. It’s like an open, abstract invitation to energy… it’s just open. They’re words that are very classic-seeming and that fit really well with the record. In that sense, I don’t feel connected to fuzzy memory. I feel connected to a much broader spectrum of feeling. I think it’s got every feeling in it. That’s why I’m so harping on the fuzzy memory thing, because I think it’s more than that.
Do you have any memories of playing Electric Picnic this summer?
Good God. Do I have memories of Electric Picnic? We had a great show, I remember that. But I remember not playing until like 3.30 in the morning and then leaving at 8 in the morning the next day. It was a really intense experience. I still don’t believe that it really happened.
It felt really dream-like, in that little outdoor amphitheatre, and you didn’t go on until so late…
Maybe I shouldn’t reveal the unglamorous details of music life, but they didn’t have the basic ingredient, which is a converter. So we couldn’t plug anything in. We had everything set up, but the festival didn’t have a convertor for us, so they had to find someone from all the way across the land, basically, to get one. It was kind of a nail-biting experience, whether we were actually going to get to play. So that was exciting. But it happened. Kind of like playing Russian roulette or something.
Okay, compulsory Baltimore question. Do you have a favourite Wire character?
I have only seen a handful of episodes of the Wire, actually, but I can tell you my favourite character is that murderous girl, what’s her name? Snoop?