I spoke to singer/keyboardist Victoria Legrand about the new album ‘Bloom’, touring, ‘shit ideas’, the nature of the modern music industry and everything else besides ahead of the band’s European tour and upcoming Irish dates.
Hi Victoria, thanks for taking the time to talk to me.Right to begin, you’re in the middle of a fairly extensive tour at the moment Victoria, Is it good to be back on the road again?
It is good, we’ve already played close to 60 shows, there are three shows left then we’re coming to Europe. That’s where we are, I’m in Boston at the moment.
To the new album Bloom. It’s definitely one of my favourite releases this year. Did you feel there was a lot of expectation with this album after the really good reaction to Teen Dream?
I’m sure there was, that’s what happens when people declare that an album is a good album. You take everything with a grain of salt, you have great hopes it will turn out well but it’s all about returning to the work and timing yourself, and that you haven’t lost that. Bloom was ready to be born, well into the teen dream touring cycle. We knew we were going to make another album; there was no doubt there was going to be a fourth record regardless of how teen dream did. If it was well or poorly received it didn’t matter as we had ideas. We had to survive and function, when you have ideas its part of the anatomy of creativity.
We’ve been lucky in Beach House, we’ve played nearly 600 shows, been all over the world and our music has done that for us. You know, we’re humbled by it and we’re respectful of it. We know that you’re given a responsibility to your fans and to the people you speak to. It’s important we’re not something we’re not so we control a lot of aspects of our career. We’ve been growing steadily for the last 6-8 years. There was no lingering in the past with this record, in the music of teen dream. We’ve been doing the same things but in more intense ways. We tour and we work on our music.
You’ve said that it was important for Bloom to work as an album as opposed to a collection of singles. I think you’ve been very successful in achieving this. Do you think now that music tends to be disposable these days and that the public are forgetting the importance of the long player??
I don’t think that all music is disposable. There are kinds of music that is cheap but it’s not obvious. In the way that sometimes because of how fast things spread on the internet, there is so much out there, I think it’s very easy to overlook great things and there are a lot of crappy things being given accolades.
It’s the era we live in; it makes it easier to connect and to share, to get information. It creates a larger pot for everything to get lost in and become homogenous. There’s always going to be certain level s of conformity, if one thing is really successful, everything else is going to try and do that. You’re not breaking new ground, it can kind of mess with things as in you’re not going in the record store and buying the physical copy of the record. It can be kind of crappy sometimes. I don’t think music is disposable. In my heart music is powerful and necessary, it’s vital, even the crappiest pop song is necessary. Even the trashiest techno is vital for somebody.
The medium though which it’s shared and how it travels makes it feel cheap. I’m not being anti-INTERNET. We were a band with no label and we had a website and people found out about us and handed our demos about. It was a very sweet time in internet history in 2006, before everybody got really savvy. There were a lot of unknowns and people were just doing it. It’s like finding the secret dive bar before everybody else finds it. In music journalism, blogs and stuff it was a fresh time and we benefited from it. We used it as a tool and that’s how you control how your music gets out there. If people want to listen to bad quality mp3s its ok as an artist to let people know you haven’t put that out there, it’s a rip and they’ll be happier listening to it on vinyl, help yourself.
Definitely so, you worked again with Chris Coady on Bloom in a fairly remote part of Texas. How was the recording process?
I mean it was so many things. It was beautiful, it was intense, and it’s traumatic. That’s what happens when you’re making an album. If you don’t have some sort of conflict, or stress, I don’t think it’s going to be good. It’s a variety of things; it’s a whole spectrum of things that happen to you. I have very beautiful memories of recording, you block out the dark stuff. Glorify the golden days, that’s they it is, romantic notions.
Chris coady is an excellent collaborator, he understands us. We don’t treat producers the way some people treat producers. We’re not looking for producer to answer our questions, the questions we have we keep to ourselves. We don’t go looking to other people.
We don’t ask Chris to help us figure it out, we have it figured out. He brings things out of us which is a beautiful thing. Like when you meet somebody, they can bring a laugh out of you. He understands our vision and there’s a mutual respect and that’s a great working environment. There has to be respect.
So it was more of a collaborative experience?
Yes, he has many talents we benefit from. Our first two albums we didn’t work with a producer, so we’ve done it many different ways. We might not always work with a producer as we have made the record in the basement and we’ve been in the studio, we’ve kind of done it all. No matter what we do. I think we will be fundamentally Beach House so at the core of it, it’s something we control. Other bands change their sound every record, in that case it might be a drastic thing if there’s no producer but that’s not the case with us. We won’t suffer I think, producer or no producer,
You mentioned control Victoria, I think you’ve been quite particular in not licensing your music to anything that just comes along. Do you think it’s important to retain a degree of control as to how your music is used, be it in commercials or TV shows or whatever?
I do, for us. Every artist is different. It’s not something I can say for everyone. It’s important you try to avoid things that are too saccharine and that are not done well. We’re not anti-doing commercials. We’re anti shit ideas but that’s it. We’re not rewriting the book or curmudgeons or anything. We’ve had our music in TV shows and in movies I think a lot of people will never watch because we get asked by a lot of independent people. As projects come along, we look at it and think whether it’s good or not. It’s about the effects, if your music appears and people who have never heard it before it can be exciting. If it’s a company you have to think is it evil or something as it affects how people react to your music, so it’s important to keep control. We should be able to decide whether we want to lose control or not, It’s not always easy.
Right Victoria last question anyways, In terms of the Beach House live experience, what can the Irish audience expect from your live dates later this month?
They can expect love; they can expect an intense experience. You know we will be bringing an excitement, we‘ve always enjoyed ourselves in Ireland, and that’s It. I don’t want to ruin the festivities but I think you’ll have a very good time. That’s all I can say, just bring your essences.
Beach House play Mandela Hall Belfast on Friday 26th of October
Cork Opera House Sat 27th of October
Whelan’s Dublin Sun 28th of October