Beach House's Alex Scally Has a Problem With Volkswagen but Not Katy Perry
Following the success of last year's Bloom, an album that landed on many year-end best lists, you could say that Baltimore's Beach House has outdone itself. Unlike many contemporary artists, however, vocalist Victoria Legrand and guitarist Alex Scally have avoided many genre tropes and firmly remained true to their dreamy, poppy sound. In essence, they've aimed to continually reinvent their ethereal disquietude, each attempt more haunting than the one before. But even if Beach House are going downhill, they don't care, they say.
Liz Flyntz Beach House
We spoke to Alex Scally about crediting songs or just plain stealing them, Katy Perry, and the beautiful things you can discover when you don't make decisions. Part of the conversation made our print issue this week, but here is the full interview.
Up on the Sun: I have the poster from the Teen Dream vinyl hanging in my room. I think Bloom is your best release yet, although Teen Dream is particularly nostalgic for me.
Alex Scally: We tend to not see things in terms of best and worst, just because it makes no sense to us. We're always glad when anyone likes anything we do. I think there's this weird thing in the mind of all listeners -- not to pontificate too much; I have had coffee, though -- they always want to [rank an artist's work], and I do it, too. [I'll] listen to a Neil Young record and [say], "I think this record is his best one." But it's so funny because I like all of them and I like them all for different reasons. But we have this weird thing where we always want to say which is the best. "Oh, they went downhill after this, or this great album happened out of nowhere." We act as if it all has to make so much sense, you know. I don't think that's necessarily true.
Beach House is not going downhill.
Even if we are, who cares? A lot of my favorite artists have these amazing, strange meandering paths. I think sometimes bands are too cautious because they're afraid to walk off the path. So I hope that doesn't happen to us, that we can stay true to our own inspirations and not just become one of those bands that's afraid to make something bad, so they [become] boring. Coffee -- that's the coffee for you.
Unlike a lot of bands these days who dabble in other genres, you are firmly dream pop. How did you decide that was the direction you wanted to head?
It was very non-decision-based. We don't really make decisions as much as we just do what we do naturally. When Beach House started in 2005, Victoria [Legrand] and I literally were playing music together, goofing around, and we had those instruments we liked. I liked reverb on the guitar, and we had these organs and little keyboards. We just gravitated very naturally to a certain sound. And we don't know why. It's just who we were and are.
We continue to gravitate to sounds that we find pleasing or exciting, and this is just how it ends up sounding. Does that makes sense? We're not the kind of band that hears a record and goes, "Oh, let's go after that sound." I think sometimes bands that do that are good. David Bowie did that. It's not how we work artistically. We're more inside out.
What kind of bands were you in before Beach House?
I started doing this band when I was 22. Before then, I was in school and a teenager, so it was kinda worthless things, fun things playing music with people, jamming. I was in a reggae band. I still totally love reggae.