Beach House at Coachella 2010
Sex, Inspirations, and Video Collaborations
Apr 27, 2010
Photography by Wendy Lynch Redfern Web Exclusive
Earlier this year, vocalist/keyboardist Victoria Legrand and guitarist Alex Scally—also known as Beach House—released their third album, Teen Dream. A collection of gauzy chamber-pop songs so enchanting Grizzly Bear's Ed Droste repeatedly twittered about its "insanely perfectly gorgeous amazingness," the album has garnered the hard-working duo a string of well-deserved accolades and (very) preemptive declarations of "best album of the year."
Under the Radar caught up with the pair at Coachella between their set and a well-deserved dinner to discuss youth, sex, and working on the road.
Laura Studarus: During your set today you played a "new song" can you tell us anything about it?
Alex Scally: That was a cover of Gucci Mane's "Lemonade." We thought people would recognize it, but we don't have many hip-hop listeners in our audience.
Victoria Legrand: Spread the news!
Didn't catch that! I'll be sure to take that to the streets. With material that is yours, tell me a bit about Teen Dream's accompanying DVD.
Legrand: It's ten different artists, five are from Baltimore. Everyone's already a video artist or a friend. Or like, Kevin Drew, who isn't video artist, but he's a musician. It's a curation. It's nothing definitive, they're not like traditional music videos. For us it's another experience that someone could have with our record. You know, it's part of this whole package, we wanted to present something as intense as we felt about the record for people.
And you direted the video for "Silver Soul." How was that experience?
Legrand: It was really fun. The only reason I made one was because I had a vision for the video. I probably wouldn't have done one if I hadn't had such a strong idea for the song. So it was fun.
What does the name of the record Teen Dream mean to you?
Scally: It's an abstract blurt that seems to encapsulate the feeling of the family of songs that we were working on. That's pretty much all it means.
Legrand: It's like a flash. Like a spontaneous energy burst.
Scally: You ever name your car?
Yeah. Although now my car has a personality of its own.
Scally: Right! Just like this record!
What were you like as teenagers?
Legrand: Pretty normal. School, music, friends. I was a late bloomer. Not a dork, but not a popular kid. Right in the middle area.
Scally: I was about the same. We actually had pretty similar childhoods. Similar teenage years.
Legrand: [Laughs] I think you were more "bad" than I was!
Legrand: Yeah. I think you got away with more. Because I was the eldest!
Scally: We were both kinda like, overachieving weirdoes.
Legrand: Yeah. That's a good way of putting it.
Do you feel like you've managed to channel some of that youthful energy with this album?
Legrand: There's energy. It's not just youth. There's sensual energy, there's violent energy, there's hopeful energy. There's longing, there's heartache. Our music will always have certain elements to it. It's just an evolution of sound for us. It's not something definitive. Every record we've done has been extremely important to us! And for us, this record is about a time in our life, as every record is.
I've heard your music described as "make-out music." How would you respond to that?
Legrand: People say that stuff. It's not intentional. But I think any kind of sex is good.
Scally: I think for us, saying that sometimes has also been an effort for us to make people connect more to the visceral side of our music. Make them not be so cerebral with it.
Legrand: I think it's also helped us in interviews to make light of interviews. To get out of the head and into the ridiculous I guess. Just saying the word sex helps. Keeps things like, "Oh yeah, that thing!"
Well, it is a ridiculous word.
Legrand: It's a great word.
With a festival like this, how does it feel to be playing to larger crowds? Do you have a sense of, well I don't want to say "G" factor, but of where you stand?
Scally: [Laughs] G factor!
Legrand: You can't really tell.
Scally: Yeah, you can't really tell who is a fan. It's cool. All new experiences are welcome and interesting. That's what this was.
How has the touring and all the by-products of album promotion gone since you've joined Sub Pop?
Scally: It's good. We're very busy. We're trying to stay inspired. We're trying to go into every night with the attitude that we're going to make an amazing experience happen for ourselves and for the audience. Some nights we fail, some nights we succeed. Our goal is to get through this year, learn as much as possible, and keep our inspiration. To not get burned out by the fact that this is our job and try to keep it on the extremely creative side of things and feel like we're actually putting our thoughts and feelings and minds [into the band].
Legrand: The line is very fine when it starts to feel like work. You have to be very careful and make decisions and not over-extend yourself. Do as much as you can.
Do you get a chance work on anything while you're on tour?
Legrand: We're noodling.
Legrand: Ideas. Storing them. Watching things. Hearing things. I've never met anyone who's like this, but touring is truly a time to absorb and learn. It's not a time to shut down and just do. It's an experience for us. I think we as a band really love touring for many reasons. One of the most is for that challenge. We're a band that works very hard and you've got to make the most of every single thing that you do! Touring is not a shut down. But it is true, some days you feel like everything is the same. The shows are always different. The audiences are always different. You've got to look out for the little things.
Is there anything people would be surprised to learn about you?
Scally: We're not very serious! We take everything we do very seriously, but we're not serious people. We're very playful. We're not depressed people. People always hear your music and they thing that you're exactly that.
Legrand: [Laughs] I'm not a flowery hippy!