My dreams came true all at once when I spoke with Victoria Legrand from Beach House. After a long week of rehearsing and packing, she’d finally fit me in for a quick ‘Q and A’, and can I just say now, she is probably one of the coolest, most intricate, deep female musicians i’ve ever had the honour of talking to…
You’ve got a fair few ‘complex sounding’ sounds going on throughout your newest album ‘Teen Dream’ – how do you work with these to transform them into a killer live show?
Well, it’s not that difficult for us. It’s always been very important to us that we can play our songs live. So, it’s sort of the same as it’s always been. I mean, we have a live drummer, so we don’t really find it that difficult to translate the record into a live set.
Your drummer has always remained fairly ‘under-the-radar’; is he an official part of the band or do you alternate drummers based on what sound you’re looking to achieve?
He’s an official part of the band since 2008. The primary writers in the band are Alex and I, but Dan has been touring with us and recreating the album since Devotion in 2008 – so post 2008, that’s when we started producing live percussion.
You recruited Chris Cody as the producer for your last album ‘Teen Dream’; what was it that appealed so much to you about Chris’s style of producing that you wanted to incorporate onto the album?
Well, we’ve always been our own producers, so we weren’t looking for someone to give us a sound because we already believed that we had our own sound. Chris was just really good at working with us and encouraging us to fulfil our vision. We recorded every song on a demo disc before we officially recorded it, so we already had a very clear idea of what we wanted things to sound like. But Chris is a really great engineer and he understood what we wanted and helped us get there.
Every producer is different, and we’ll probably never have any one person ‘produce’ us, you know, like somebody that just comes in and completely changes what your sound is like; that’s not what we’re looking for at the moment. Chris understood that we’re really controlling and that what we hear in our heads is what we want, not something else.
So were you worried that changing labels between your albums ‘Devotion’ and ‘Teen Dream’ from Carpark to Subpop would change your sound at all; or that the label would put any sort of pressure on you to alter your sound in any way?
Not at all. The outside world doesn’t have an effect on what sound we create; it always comes from the interior. Labels don’t affect our sound. A label is just a manufacturer of your album and a support system in certain places, so they have no say at all in what your record will sound like.
I mean, Teen Dream sounded different to Devotion in that it’s a little more Hi-Fi than the other records, it’s because we grew tired of being drenched in re-verb. I mean, we still have a lot of re-verb on this record [Teen Dream], but Alex and I have both developed as writers so we found more interesting ways to cut out some reverb. This is our third record now and we’ve also toured a lot more, so it’s safe to say that there’s a lot of growth happening.
So tell me a little bit behind the origin of the name of the band; ‘Beach House’.
I mean, the name of a band is just a window to another world, and Beach House was a set of words that we liked and we thought made sense at the time. It was all in or imagination. It has very little to do with an actual place or season or anything like that; it’s just fit for us, so we kept it. A lot of things we create kind of just jot out of our mouths and it stayed there because it felt right. There’s a lot of abstraction and spontaneity going on with a lot of our titles and things like that you know. It’s all about what it ‘feels’ like for us.
Well, you’re coming down for Laneway very soon!
We’re leaving on Wednesday, and we are just so excited to be down there again for the first time since 2008!
So now that the Australian music scene have had a few more years to warm up to Beach House, how are you hoping the Aussie crowds will respond to your live set after having received so many kick-arse reviews for your latest LP?
I’m just hoping that people are excited! I can’t put any pressure on anyone; I just want people to enjoy it and have a good time. In the two years that we’ve been away from Australia I think that there is probably a lot of crowd anticipation and excitement. I’m just really excited to be around Australians again; plain and simple. Two years has been a long time, a lot happens in two years.
So what sort of rumours have you heard about Aussie crowds?
Well my experience has been that the Australian crowds are very kind, and warm. The whole time we were there was very peaceful and fun – definitely a good experience.
Our show at City Recital Hall has completely sold out which feel great, and it was totally unexpected. I think that coming out of 2010 and into 2011 it had been a very busy year last year, so it’s great to see some momentum; it’s nice to see things grow. The fact that we haven’t been in Australia in two years and our shows are selling out… there’s nothing bad to be said about it.
So what sort of things can we expect to see and hear at the Beach House live set in Aus?
Pyro-technics! Auto-technics! And we’ll probably descend from the ceiling in a chariot or something. You’ll have to come and see the show! It will be simple yet intense; it will be many things I’m sure, but hopefully you’ll have some interpretation of your own, I don’t want to put any pressure on future events…
Is your live set standard in that you are constant and that the crowd can expect the same level of performance each time they see Beach House? Or do you alternate and mix things up depending on variables?
It’s a bit of everything. There’s a lot of control and a lot of structure, but still there is a lot of spontaneous. We just feed off the crowd and the people that you’re playing with. Every show is different – it’s wrong to say that every show is that same and boring because each gig has a different vibe to it. It’s both, spontaneous and extremely well thought-out.
Who are you most excited about performing along-side at Laneway festival?
Ariel Pink! For sure.
Will you watch them from the crowd or back stage?
I like to see performers from back stage, but I also like to be in the crowd because I like to be with people reacting to the music. So hopefully both…
The time that you’re in Australia is amid the thick of Australian Festival season, so do you think that you will check out any other festivals while you’re out here?
I don’t know! It depends on how much time we have. I mean we have days of and things like that, but I would also like to see some of the land; see all the things we didn’t get to see last time we were hear like the beaches and things like that.
If you could go back to any point in history whose gig would you go to and why?
I would probably see Michael Jackson. I would probably see Kate Bush play live – but that will never happen. I would absolutely love to see Velvet Underground, for sure. It’s a tricky question to answer because there are so many different people and bands that I would love to have seen… I can’t name them all.
Beach House are headed down under to play Laneway Festivals through the country in February, but they also have a couple of Sideshows going if you’re lucky enough to bribe someone in to selling you their ticket; they’re also making a guest appearance at Sydney Festival – so make sure you hit these guys up.