Beach House may have a penchant for ethereal melodies and evocative lyrics, but behind the music is a woman with backbone. Lead singer Victoria LeGrand has a no holds barred attitude when dealing with her career. Since rising to prominence with 2010’s Teen Dream (Sub Pop Records) and touring a vast amount all over the world, the Baltimore-based singer/keyboardist has become a pro at deflecting any negativity that is occasionally thrown her way.
“I have only met a handful of people in my travels who have told me to go ‘fuck myself.’ There was this asshole monitor guy in San Diego and he told me to go ‘fuck myself.’ I almost wanted to punch him in the face, but I didn’t because I didn’t want to give him the satisfaction of knowing that he’d been an asshole to me,” LeGrand says. “I was just thinking to myself ‘well, I feel bad for you dude because you’re a miserable guy who hates his job, hates his life and maybe hates women.’ I just walked away. I think it’s better to not involve yourself in those types of situations.”
Fortunately, those scenarios are few and far between. Along with the other half of Beach House, multi-instrumentalist Alex Scalley, LeGrand began churning out records in 2004, although the duo did not gain much national attention until recently. After the huge success of Teen Dream, they quickly got to touring and writing their next record. Titled Bloom, the 10-track album is a continuation of the group’s mellow, emotional catalog, but with subtle tweaks here and there. The songwriting is more concise and the lyrics are more literal.
While the final product was mixed at the legendary Electric Lady Studios in New York City, it was actually recorded in the tiny border town of Tornillo, Texas, an experience LeGrand will never forget.
“That was a moment in my life that means a lot to me and I’ll always remember it. It was a very personal experience and an intense one. I don’t think the place had an effect on the music necessarily because we write everything before we go record so that stuff is already set in stone,” she says. “We’re not down there in the cactus pasture, or whatever, letting the sunbeams interrupt. We’re not doing that. We’re more serious than that. We’re control freaks. But the actual experience of living there didn’t have much to do with the music.”
Whether or not that’s true, Bloom is another critically acclaimed success for them. It has received mostly positive reviews across the board, although that’s something that either Scally or LeGrand pay much attention to these days. “Everybody hears something different so I try not to think too much about good or bad reviews. Honestly, a lot of the good reviews I didn’t think they were good reviews [laughs]. Just because they are positive doesn’t make it a good review, in my opinion. I think music listening in general is at an all time low. People, especially music reviewers, they have so much to listen to. I don’t think you get an album in less than 5 listens. And I’m an audiophile,” Scally says. “I hear everything the first time, but I still don’t get it until I’ve heard it 5 or 10 times. I don’t think people give that kind of attention to music anymore, but that’s what it deserves. Like you would never go to a museum and walk by a painting in 4 seconds. I see people doing that all the time, but that’s not what a work deserves. You wouldn’t watch a film and be on your phone the whole time.”
Repeatedly listening to Bloom or Teen Dream catapults one to a place of contentment. LeGrand’s sultry voice grabs hold and won’t let go. She is not only a talented singer, but an extraordinary example of a strong woman. She has a few words for the younger generations who may be thinking about getting into a creative profession.
“You don’t have to be miserable to make art or music. You’re going to get depressed, have no energy if you’re on heroin and won’t do anything with your life. You should probably not do that because it’s a waste of time and you will end up dying. Not a good choice,” she says with a hint of sarcasm. “I don’t think there are many rock stars left and I think it’s something that’s slowly dying. Maybe it’s not relevant anymore or can’t happen because there used to be a time when there was mystique around people and now it’s incredibly hard to have that because people are always trying to find out about your life and take pictures of you.
"The internet has made everything very public. For example, if Marc Bolen [of T. Rex] was still with us, maybe we’d be seeing pictures of him at Starbucks and you wouldn’t be like ‘oh man, Marc Bolen is so awesome.’ You can’t really have legends like the way you used to be because there’s going to be some images of you in sweatpants drinking a Corona,” she continues. “I really don’t think partying and doing drugs makes you a rock star. You actually have to be amazing. There’s a lot more to it than ‘sex, drugs and rock-n-roll.’ It was not what is has become so be smart. Don’t do heroin [laughs].”
Good advice. So kids, on Monday when Beach House strolls into town, leave the contraband behind. Just enjoy the music Scally and LeGrand are making for you.
“There is no right way to do it,” LeGrand concludes. “We never preach, but we can say certain things so that if a young person reads it, they would maybe think twice about something.”
Beach House with Poor Moon, October 8, at Slowdown, 729 N. 14th St., 8 p.m. Tickets are $20. Visit www.onepercentproductions.com for more information.