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The Baltimore dream pop band Beach House comes out with its fifth studio album, “Depression Cherry,” later this month. Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson speaks with both members of the duo – Alex Scally and Victoria Legrand – about their new album, their collection of organs, their friendship and why it can be hard to figure out how to end a song.
On the album’s meaning and how it’s different from past work
Victoria Legrand: “I think at this point, this album continues to change meaning for me on a daily basis. But if anything, it’s full of many things. Love, pain, getting older, dealing with loss, letting go. It’s really ultimately whatever the listener feels in response to it.”
On the formation of the band
Alex Scally: “We were both just kind of knocking around Baltimore right in our early 20s, and met doing a different musical project, and then this kind of grew out of it over 10 years ago now, which is crazy.”
Legrand: “Before Beach House, I was a student, I was into theater, I was writing music on my own. It’s just that once I met Alex, life changes and I think life changes fast sometimes, you know, when you meet somebody and it’s like, it feels like fate is playing its hand. The rest is kind of history at this point.”
On the band’s unique sound
Scally: “I think it’s probably complicated, because part of it is just the actual instruments we use. Guitar, we play with guitar and organs and drum machines and reverb and stuff. But I think part of it I think is also just intrinsic to our own musical personalities that are like fingerprints to us, just kind of like, ‘What do our brains make when we make something?’
“This album continues to change meaning for me on a daily basis. But if anything, it’s full of many things. Love, pain, getting older, dealing with loss, letting go.”
How Baltimore has influenced the band
Scally: “Maybe it’s influenced us, we feel, in that it hasn’t influenced us, you know? There’s no pressure to do anything or be this or that. It just lets you be yourself. I’m born and raised here. It has tons of problems, but it’s also a place that’s open, it isn’t controlled completely by crazy, capitalistic financial pressures that drive a lot of other modern cities. I think sometimes when I talk to everyone and people in New York, they all work in their apartment, because nobody has a practice space, nobody has that kind of stuff. Everyone just kind of works with headphones on a computer. That must have a profound effect on people.”
On the band’s use of fades in its songs
Legrand: “I think a fade can be just right, like it is absolutely the only way that a song can end. Or it can be a copout. Like, ‘I don’t know how to end this, so let’s just keep it going forever.’ And I think it’s harder to find a way to end something.”
Does it feel better when a song doesn’t end with a fade?
Scally: “No, because certain songs are all about endlessness, and most of our last songs on records – I think every single one of our last songs on records – have ended with fades. And I think that’s because we wanted to create the feeling that it was never going to end. And that’s one of my favorite feelings in a song. It’s like you don’t want the feeling to end, ever.”
Legrand: “Because in reality, things do end. They brutally end, they end no matter what you do. There’s no controlling that.”
Scally: “And then there’s like certain other fades. One of my favorite types of fades, and one that we’ve tried to achieve over time, or a few times, is the fade where a new element comes in as it’s fading. So you almost wish it wasn’t fading so you could hear – ‘America’ by Simon and Garfunkel is a perfect example of that. Like as it’s fading, kind of a new instrument emerges, and a new little melody, and it’s really gorgeous. And you’re like, ‘Wait, wait, where ya going?'”
Legrand: “It’s bittersweet.”
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