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Playground magazine



Beach House: “We Wouldn’t Make A Song That Doesn’t Have A Lot Of Emotion And Feeling In It”

Confessions from the Baltimore duo, before the release of “Bloom” (plus some thoughts on The Weeknd)

By ,

Talking about building songs… My favourite one is “Irene”. It’s also the longest track you’ve ever recorded. Its seven minutes long, but it could last for an eternity. Were there early versions longer than the final one?

No. And actually that’s a very new thing for us because in the recording studio that was a live take. There are three songs on this album that are kind of live songs, we just recorded them all of us together - with Victoria, Dan, our drummer, and myself, playing at the same time - so I think you really feel that energy in that song, which is a big part of it. I think we are going to try and do this a lot more in the future, try to have the albums including a lot of live takes. Because there is a certain energy that happens, like in a show. Most albums do not have that kind of energy.

Who’s Irene?

It’s the name of the song. Huh… It’s very hard to describe and it’s kind of a secret for us. But I think it could be a secret for anybody. For some people it will be a song about love, for some it will be about death, for others about birth. It’s a big song. It was kind of funny to take a song that is that big and give it a simple woman’s name.

“Teen Dream” had wonderful B-sides. “The Arrangement” still gives me goose bumps. But the last two records have only ten songs. How much, let’s say, good material did you end up with after the “Bloom” recording session?

Well, we had a lot of it actually. We had some others tracks that might turn into songs later. And then our single for Record Store Day, a 7 inch, has a B-side on it that we really love. It’s a song we absolutely adore that is called “Equal Mind”. But it just didn’t fit in the album; it wasn’t part of this world. So I’m excited that people will hear that song.


Some time ago you played at the Manchester Cathedral. I think it’s a quite suitable place in which to listen your music. But, what do you think is the perfect space for your songs?

I’m not sure. But there was this one night that we played in North Carolina. There was this lady. We were down in a canyon with big trees, and this woman had parked her car, and was really drunk. We got out of the club and we saw her across the street with her car door open and blasting out our album [Laughs]. It was resonating all over the canyon right out of her car stereo, and I think that is maybe the best it has ever sounded to me in my entire life. But I think that is completely up to anybody that is listening to it.

The new record includes a song called “On The Sea” and you already had a song titled “Saltwater”. The sea seems…

It sounds kind of ridiculous, right? [Laughs]

[Laughs] The sea seems to be a great influence on your work. Is that so?

I don’t know. I think water is pretty important for everybody, right? Humans are like 70% water or something…

"And I think we never

wanted to make great art

for our covers. More than

anything I think we want

abstraction. We want it to

be very open, something

you can interpret or fill in

the blanks."

“Bloom”’s cover art has dark tones for the first time in your career. Why did you choose to do this?

Because I think that it's a huge part of the record for us. Does that make sense? It’s not just the beginning, it’s the end. And maybe the beginning again, and the end… like a repeating cycle.

I find there is quite a change between the art-work of your first two records and the last two. You’ve moved towards textures, they seem like visual abstractions. Could you please tell us more about this cover art?

I think it’s intentional. You know, a lot of people for their record covers, they try to make some really great piece of art. And I think we never wanted to make great art for our covers. More than anything I think we want abstraction. We want it to be very open, something you can interpret or fill in the blanks. It is a very low-resolution photograph. I think people can feel a lot with it. Some people can feel as if it looked heavenly,  others like it was just hypnotizing, others can think it looks dark and frightening, some people can also think it looks just peaceful. We wanted to do something that felt both bold and open.

How do you feel about “Bloom”’s early leak?

Here’s the thing. All our albums have leaked, and it has never hurt us. I don’t really care about people downloading music for free at all. I think, if anything, it helps us because people go to our shows and talk about us. I don’t think there’s anything wrong. But the thing I hate the most – the thing that makes me sad – is that they won’t experience the album the way we want them to experience it. We really want them to hear the album  in its highest quality; with the artwork and to be able to read the lyrics. Or on vinyl, be able to open it up, put it on, play it and listen to it from start to finish. We have this really very specific way that we always imagine people to experience the album, and we feel it is beautiful that way and it very much is the best way. What really saddens us is that so many big fans of ours are first experiencing the album in a bad way. I feel like leaking could be fun, but what I wish is that it happened differently: that they wait until we release it, and then everyone could choose between having the real experience or the compromised experience. And then, when it is out, you can spread it around for free. I wish they wouldn’t open their presents before Christmas. It’s a different era. Music is freer, but it doesn’t really belong to people, they are stealing. I think it’s okay that music is spread, but I think people should be respectful. That’s the big thing, people are not being respectful.


Not being respectful in what way?

They are not respectful of our wishes on how to experience it. We did all this work, we spent a year, we spent all of our money, we did all these things - so we should have the right to at least have the people listen to it the way we want, whether they pay or not.

Is the Baltimore scene as well nourished as it was when you first started doing music?

It’s changing always, like everything. Nothing is the same for more than one instant. But it’s vital, there are still a lot of bands and there are interesting places. I wish I could be there more, but I feel like I’m never home. There are still lots of good bands and I think you’ll hear of them when the time comes.

Let me ask you a silly question, is Baltimore as bad-ass as it is depicted in “The Wire”?

Yeah, yeah, it’s true. What they did in that show is completely true. But that’s not our lives. If you’re raised in the ghetto, like gangster, then that’s your life.

How can you explain the current dream-pop revival?

I didn’t know there was one. Maybe because I don’t know what dream-pop music is. Who knows? I don’t understand society. I think that is more your job, your question to figure out, because I don’t understand why anyone does anything.

Ok, so… If I tell you we, the media, think that there are lots of new acts that sound like you, do you think this is accurate or have you not been listening to enough music to speak about it?

I haven’t heard a record that sounds like us. But, it’s true, in the last year I’ve been working on this record, so I haven’t listened to new music. But I think I’ll listen to it soon. But I think that it is very subjective, but I have no idea.

You say you haven’t listened to any new music, but have you listened to The Weeknd?

The Weeknd? Oh… the guy who sampled Beach House. I’ve heard those songs.

Did you like them?

No. Actually, the “Gila” one was OK, but the “Master Of None” was pretty awful. They did a terrible job with that one. I would say it to their faces if they were right here: “Man, you did a terrible job!” . But, whatever, those guys, their whole culture, they just take stuff and don’t ask for it or anything.


So, is this something that bothers you?

No. If for some reason one of these songs got really famous, then it would bother me because I don’t want to be known for something I didn’t agree to.

Are you guys conscious that Victoria’s hair is already an indie classic?

I guess so. I’m not aware of it. I don’t think I’m aware of much of the stuff you’re talking about! [Laughs]

You know, there’s a blog solely dedicated to her hair.

Yeah, I know, I heard about that. I’m sure that flatters her, but I don’t think she is very aware of it. We are very much not into the internet, we try not to be into it.

Is there a reason?

Yeah, because the internet is boring as fuck! It’s not real life, it sucks, it’s cowardly. Everyone on the internet is like a big coward. People say things they would never say in real life, people say things they don’t even think about, they say them without caring… There are a lot of good things about the internet, but we try to live as musicians and live a real life and be really inspired all the time. We value real experiences over fake ones.

How do you anticipate the visual aspect of this record in be? Are you going to shoot videos for each of the songs like you did with “Teen Dream”?

We have a lot of ideas for videos, and they are in the works. But more than anything, we are putting a ton of energy into our live show. We plan on making the live experience very visual.

I think I have exceeded my time. Thank you, Alex.

You’re welcome. Sorry I didn’t know about anything that is going on. See you at Primavera Sound!

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