Revered by critics and slowly making their way into the mainstream, Baltimore band Beach House have a growing awareness of the burdens of their fame. Careful to protect their image but eager to engage with their fans, Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally have vowed to keep it meaningful as they promote their fourth album, the critically acclaimed "Bloom." So we went deep for this interview while Scally was on a break during their world tour.
Before doing this interview, your publicist told me not to ask about your influences or ask any of the traditional boring questions. I get it. Do you feel sort of weary about doing these interviews now?
Um, no. You don’t want to talk about things that are boring. It’s just very natural and simple. … Whenever you get questions like ‘What are your influences?’ I always tend to think that’s just someone who hasn’t really listened to the music. We kind of made a conscious decision, after so many years of doing this band, we only want to do things that are meaningful now. We’re lucky that we can try to do it that way. No fluff.
In other coverage of your music, you’ve mentioned how there are so many generalizations about what you do — that it’s all about tones. Do you think there will ever come a day when you’ll swear off reading what people have written about you?
We don't read much of what people have written. ... We feel very lucky that we are asked to do interviews or that people care enough to do it. ... That comment about people paying attention to tones — I think that's bigger than our music. We’re talking about a society-wide trend that we've been noticing for a couple of years — people just creating music based just only on the vibe of it. The song comes second. The lyrics come second. It’s all just a bunch of sound that feels good. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just commenting on it.
It’s not engaging on all levels.
Right. When we said that, we were just trying to tell people, well, we spend a lot of time on the songs and the lyrics. Please don’t let it be only felt on that level. If you consciously think about it at all, try to go somewhere else with it. It’s instructing the listener a little bit.
There are all these online lyric sites — are you annoyed when people list them incorrectly?
Victoria wrote all the lyrics out in the album art, so anyone who really cares will find the correct ones. I think it’s kind of interesting how there’s so much bad information on the Internet. It’s kind of this hilarious thing. It’s like this big bathroom wall with 10 billion people writing on it.
There’s been controversy recently surrounding your refusal to let Volkswagen use your music in their commercial and keeping a lid on how much you share your music for those purposes.
Just to clarify “keeping a lid on how much we share our music” — that’s not it at all. We love sharing our music, and if that ad had been amazing we may have done it. The ad was terrible. It’s more taste and it’s more use. If a song is used well, it’s exciting to us. It could make a commercial better or a product better, or maybe we like the thing that they’re trying to sell. Trying to be uncommercial is not one of our goals. We’re a commercial band. We sell our records. We want to communicate to people as much as possible, but on our own terms.