Beach House Interview
They're touring Australia this year — we speak about hacked Twitter accounts, bad onstage experiences and not overthinking things.
Notoriously touted 'the dream pop duo from Baltimore', Beach House's music is an atmospheric whirlwind of swoony, seductive rhythms and cascading vocals. Their fourth studio album, Bloom, was released in May, with people who convene on the topic of music reaching a general consensus: Bloom sounded very Beach House. Whether that assertion brought with it positive or negative filler, the members — Alex Scally and Victoria Legrand — cared not.
Beach House will play Falls Festival this year, and today they announced a string of sideshows (see dates below). We caught up with Alex ahead of their Australian tour.
Melissa Kenny: Hey Alex, what are you up to?
Alex Scally: It's midnight here so I'm going to have a beer. I'm leaving for tour tomorrow so I'm enjoying the last minutes of being able to walk around and do whatever I want.
You guys are coming back to Australia for Falls Festival later this year...
Yes we are, I'm very excited. I've never been to Tasmania before.
Dude, I haven't even been there. But I did catch you guys at Laneway last year, the weather was horrendous, so you had heaps of sound and set mishaps but it all turned out really great. The sound ended up being massive and the crowd were psyched. How was that day for you?
That whole tour, Laneway, was really, really fun but it was so crazy, like with the flying… Do you like flying?
Kind of. I like to sleep for the long flights, so y'know… That might mean a light sedative of sorts.
Oh, right on. Basically wherever you fly you don't really know where you are. And that tour, every day we were flying somewhere, but I remember both of the Laneway shows being really great. The crowds were really great at that festival, the kinds of people there… it just had a wonderful energy the whole time.
Totally. I recall Victoria expressing her frustrations at the sound and set in Sydney [a stage prop collapsed and broke, and the opening song had to be aborted after the vocals cut out altogether] and someone near me being like "French women love getting angry" or something to that effect. Is Victoria really an angry woman?
I don't know about that typecast, I never made that before. I just think they're kinda feisty in general. But it's always kind of fun, good-natured.
Pretty sexy too. The way those words roll off the tongue.
What's the worst experience you've ever had onstage?
Our first show in England, six years ago. Nobody told us that the power is different, and we just plugged our stuff in and it fried everything and there were a hundred people there. We tried to carry on just with an acoustic set or something… It was just the most epic meltdown.
Yeah, it was deeply pathetic. We tried to instantly rewrite the songs for guitar and they're all keyboard songs… It was so pathetic and they sounded so bad. I don't think anyone recorded it. It was before everyone recorded everything all the time.
Before the age of the iPhone.
You can't really have a makeshift organ can you?
Nope! No way to fake it.
Can you tell me a bit about how the video for 'Lazuli' came together? Is there a cool story behind the chicken and egg theme?
Our friend Allen who made the video really wanted to do this kind of Ghostbusters reference and a lot of the ideas came from mine and Victoria's minds. It was just like, We wanna make a video, and we want it to be kinda like this" and it just seems like we let him run with it. I think he did an interesting job.
Interesting and intergalactic. So videos aside, how important is creating music that is very visual? Is that a conscious thing for you guys?
No. It's just who we are. We have a real desire to not do things intellectually and just do things naturally — just what comes out. If you sit down and you work on music, you don't think 'now I want to write a pop song'. That for us is the opposite of creativity.
A lot of the talk and the hype around Bloom really praises the preservation of a distinct Beach House sound. Can you comment on the growth between the previous release — Teen Dream and Bloom?
We're probably the worst people at describing that because it's happening inside us. It's just not a conscious thing. It's happened four times now; we write a bunch of songs, we go tour them and then when we get back and we start working on the next album and something different comes out. So to say what any of this means — we don't know what it means, we're inside of it. But we tend to use a lot of the same things, we still love the same instruments. I still play the same guitar, we have lots of organs, we have drum machines, Victoria's voice is still Victoria's voice, so there's only so much that us making music is going to change. I do think it's changing but it's hard for us to exactly know how.
That must be interesting then for you to say that and have people outside of it interpret all of these things that are not wholly conscious to you to begin with...
I don't really read or take notice of it. That's more for anyone else besides us. Just that people care at all — we feel lucky for that.
I was casually perusing the Beach House Twitter and your account had been hacked! What happened there?
I don't know! We just got hacked! I don't know, how does shit get hacked? I don't know!
What is The Internet? What does it mean?
I just noticed that other people were like "you got hacked" and I looked and someone had gone into our account and written all these weird things to other people.
What weird things?
It was like they were trying to get other people to get hacked as well, as though it was a platform to hack as many accounts as possible. You basically click on a link and enter your information to them.
The Internet is a big, bad place.
I'm going to let you go and enjoy your beer. Thank you so much for talking to me, Alex!
You're very welcome. We'll see you at Falls!
BEACH HOUSE TOUR DATES
More info: www.mistletone.net