March 12th, 2008 | Interviews

Liz Flyntz

Beach House “Gila”


Alex Scally (guitar/keyboards) and Victoria Legrand (vocals/keyboards) are Beach House. Their soft, atmospheric music seems made for lovers (or at least the lovelorn), evoking emotion through tender vocal harmonies and wave-like melodies. Alex Roman speaks with Victoria about her love for pop music, success and, well, beach houses.

You guys seemingly became popular very fast. How did you deal with it?
We were surprised by the internet response, but we are very much operating on a small scale. We’re not at the Vampire Weekend level or anything. I think we are doing something that is appealing to certain people, and the internet is helping to spread knowledge of us. I think you could say the same for a bunch of groups right now.
Were you surprised by the response?
In no way do I feel that we have had the kind of overnight sensation that damages groups. I suppose the popularity is growing quite normally and modestly—I can tell by the attendance at our shows, which varies from 50 to 200 people. There is still a broad range that makes me feel that the Beach House is still fundamentally intact, solid and not overwhelmed with bullshit!
Did the increased popularity and, therefore, increased expectations of the band make it difficult for you when you were working on the new record?
Not really. The only obvious pressure we felt was finding the time between touring and email to be creative, relaxed and inspired.
What did you try to do differently on Devotion?
We expressed more of ourselves. I personally stepped forward lyrically more than before.
Mood seems to be a pretty big factor in your songs. Where did that aesthetic develop for you?
I think that we’re moody people at our worst. I suppose you could say that I’m personally obsessed with images and emotions. I think we have a predilection toward the passionate.
Does living in Baltimore play a part in that?
Baltimore is a simple yet complex habitat. There is violence, but there is also, more importantly, a great amount of serenity and protection. A haven if you take the time and, also, a silence in which to hear things.
I heard that you both are into soul music, Motown and the like. What is it about that music that draws you in?
The grooves, the production, the spirit, the impeccable style. Also the melodies and character of it. It just speaks directly and hits you where it counts in many directions.
Do you feel that passion and emotion in music today is gone?
Yes, but that doesn’t mean that people aren’t trying. It just feels sometimes that there exists a vacant emotional plagiarism that really doesn’t have a lasting feel. There are, especially in Top 40 Muzak, a lot of imitators. It’s OK to want to sound like someone, but to leave no room for your own voice is merely a disservice to yourself. Personally, when I hear a song and I immediately feel something physically or a memory is triggered, it feels right. A style of sound might not be the best replacement for true content or actual timeless substance.
You’re also really into pop songs. Who are you listening to right now?
In pop I like a broad range of artists—Kylie Minogue, Kelis, Ciara, Eve, Aaliyah, Missy Elliott, The Knife, The Cardigans, Beck, Rick Ross and T.I. I’m not constantly listening to pop, but I do like the occasional dip into its sugary pool. The van is usually the best time for listening.
Have you guys added any additional musicians to play with you on this tour?
We are currently touring with The Papercuts, and Jason Quever is playing percussion with us. It seems natural for us to remain two, but having another feels great sometimes, especially live.
Do you still have day jobs?
I work in the service industry; that’s pretty crappy, but the place which employs me is kind to me. Alex does carpentry.
You probably get this question a lot, but when you think of beach house, you generally think of fun and sun. Yet, when you think of Beach House the band, some may think the complete opposite. How did the name of the band come about?
I wish I could give you a real tale — we pulled it out of a cat! No, we conversed about the world of our music and thus it was born.
Have you ever stayed at a beach house?
I’ve stayed in several in my life and they’ve all been different. I once had a boyfriend who had probably a million dollar beach house in the Hamptons. Personally, I prefer the smaller, cozier types; practical cabanas with outdoor showers so you can moon the outdoors. Maybe I can go to one soon. Any offers? I can see it now, ‘Beach House looking for a beach house of its own.’