Capturing the Ether

Beach House talks maturing, songwriting and satisfaction

Surf into the Beach House show on Thursday, Aug. 2.
Surf into the Beach House show on Thursday, Aug. 2.

Victoria Legrand, one half of the dream pop duo Beach House, describes her band as not abrasive, but also not soft. Nowhere is this truer than their latest album, 7. Gone are the summery vibes and warm melodies of previous efforts, and in are the chaotic and entrancing waves. The album still maintains an aura that is definitely Beach House, but stands alone for multiple reasons. Here's what Legrand had to say:

For 7, there's a pretty clear change in sound where you got more psychedelic. I know you took more studio time and tried different production techniques, but is there one thing that differentiates your new album from other Beach House albums?

The process for writing was much more different than any other... There were a lot of new and different things that went into making this record. But I think that the way that we wrote, and how we recorded while we wrote, really increased the speed of capturing ideas and gave us a lot more freedom than previous records. There was more creative control. We all kind of worked together to make something very new for us. A lot of things were captured and made permanent quickly, so we had a lot more time to work on them because they were already recorded. We were much more efficient. And I think every time you do something, you become more adept at it. You sort of know better and don't get fooled the same way you got fooled when you were younger.

How is this new psychedelic and surreal sound working in live shows?

We've changed a lot of things in our shows, and gone more in that new direction. Any kind of the grittiness that you feel in the record, we're still exploring. So if you're coming to any of these shows I would expect things to be different from the last time, for sure.

Do you put more credence in timbre or melody when creating your songs?

If the melody is inspiring, we're going to follow that, if the chord progression is good, we're going to follow that... It's a very instinctive feeling we're working with when it comes to working with music. It's always been a very natural progression for me. The way that I sound now is the way that want I to sound now... The way a sculptor works with clay is very much how we work. It kind of comes out of nowhere, to some extent. And I think that's where this sort of eeriness and magical aspects are. Because when you work on music and you work on art, you cannot guarantee what you'll have. Basically, there are these moments that make creative life worth living. They're like a gift from the ether and either you catch them or you don't catch them. It's a game of chance.

With this happenstance way of making music, is there anyway to predict what the next album will sound like?

I think that one of the biggest forces I felt for 7 is that one of the most wonderful parts about getting older is the feeling that you give less and less of a fuck about what anyone thinks of what you're doing. Now of course I'm talking about creativity and art, I'm not talking about like, getting in your car and ramming something. But I think 7 has a lot of force and has showed me that it doesn't matter how old you are in life. It's what you're doing that matters. It's what you're putting out into the world that matters, and if that is exciting to you or if it gives you an energy that feels youthful or alive or burning with fire, then you're going to keep moving forward. And 7 gave us all of that. It was a wonderful experience making it.

So would you say you're satisfied with this new album, or have you ever been satisfied with something you released?

It's kind of tricky. I definitely don't think that we feel satisfied... When we decide that a record is finished, I think it's really about coming to terms with saying 'OK, I think we've done everything that we could do, and now it's time to let these things go.' Because if we hold onto them, we might destroy them or they might never come out. There are all different types of artists and I think that some people like to hold onto things and they get very perfectionistic. But perfectionism is kind of a synonym for destruction. It can really be a deterrent for one's evolution. Alex and I have always felt that putting records out is very necessary. It's a gut feeling we have. It's not some sort of automatic greenlight. It's a feeling that you have that you've done all you can and it's ready to fly away and be somebody else's. As an artist there are somethings I struggle with answering in a way that would make sense to someone who doesn't make music. It's very hard to describe that moment of creation. There's something very psychedelic about creating. There are some things, like melodies, where you have to ask, "Where do they come from?" We're very grateful that we've been able to put out another record. We are happy that it's happened. I can't say that we're satisfied, but I think that we are very glad it occurred."

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