Part II with Victoria LeGrand
By Kyle Eustice
In Part One of the Victoria LeGrand interview, the Beach House singer/keyboardist was amazingly open about her journey, the music she writes and everything in between. Fresh on the heels of the duo’s latest release, Depression Cherry, LeGrand and partner-in-crime Alex Scally are in the middle of a lengthy tour run in support of the album. In anticipation of Beach House’s performance at Slowdown on Friday, September 25, LeGrand talks about creating a memorable musical experience, why she regrets calling the new album a “return to simplicity” and the significance of 10:37.
Now! Omaha (Kyle Eustice): I saw you play in Omaha at Slowdown. I remember the feeling you created there. You created a certain type of ambiance and I could definitely feel it. You recorded Bloom in Texas and now Depression Cherry in New Orleans. Is there a particular reason you decide to record in different cities?
Victoria LeGrand: The songs are all written in Baltimore, but going somewhere else to record is just a very visceral thing. You need a change of pace and a change of scenery as good to take things up a notch in a certain way. If you’re working on a book and you’ve been writing in the same place for six months, maybe you want to go to a more extreme place to finish the book. You don’t know why, but a change of surroundings definitely has an effect on things. It makes it more serious. Maybe it propels you to finishing things. It elevates it. Going into the studio in an isolated location kind of intensifies the experience. It further intensifies the experience. It’s already intense to write records. I think it’s important to be isolated because you are dealing with music, songs, images, feelings and words. There’s so much going on, there isn’t that much space for walking outside and all of a sudden being hit in the face by a city or something. It can be jarring. I think we just prefer the experience being isolated and intense for whatever reason.
That makes sense.
And it’s not necessarily about the place. When we went to Sonic Ranch, we hadn’t been to visit. We just went without knowing that much stuff. It’s also like an adventure on some level. As far as the places affecting the songs, it doesn’t really happen because the songs are written beforehand, but the actual process of recording—clearly Louisiana is a warm place and Baltimore was extremely cold that winter—for us, having worked so hard, it’s also about us being in a warm place so if you wanted to take a five minute break, you could go outside and it wouldn’t be ruthless. It would be some sort of forgiveness for all the work. These are just the boring details.
It’s not boring. I read somewhere you regret calling your new album a “return to simplicity” in your bio. Why would you regret saying that?
Because it’s an oversimplification [laughs]. You know what I’m talking about. First of all, it means something different to everyone else. Everyone knows that something simple can also be extremely deceptively complex. The moment of kind of realizing something or changing or going one direction and suddenly turning the other way, that moment is a natural moment. It’s not simple. It’s natural. This could become a philosophy discussion about what does simple mean, what does natural mean and the difference between the two, but it was more about being natural for us. It wasn’t like, ‘And now, we are going to play minimalism. We’re going to go back and be the first record.’ That’s not how we are. It’s things we’ve always had throughout the course of career. There are certain things we do that are still very ripe for us. The constraints or limitations are still allowing us to explore into them. There’s actually still a lot of openness to be discovered. You only learn from experience, whether you’re a musician, human being, student or a litte kid. You don’t learn any other way. You learn by doing, not by talking about it, but by actually doing it. By doing a wide array of things like songwriting, experimenting and song arrangement, we just very naturally saw a place we wanted to go. That’s not necessarily simple. That’s why we regret saying that.
I really enjoy “Space Song” and “10:37.” The album is really well done. I don’t want to keep you.
Do you have any more questions you’re dying to ask?
[Laughs] Actually, yes. What is significance about 10:37?
Well, my dear. Have you ever had a thing in your life like a time or a certain, I don’t know, a symbol you develop? I think, as humans, we all have these signs that we see in our lives, in certain periods of our lives that make us go, ‘Why does this keep occurring? Is there a meaning to this? Is it a sign? It is it spirit?’ For me, in particular, 10:37 is like that thing. It’s very wide open. That’s about as specific as I can get. It’s something I’ve seen throughout my entire life, not sure why.
I try to pay a lot more attention to signs the universe is giving me these days.
Sometimes people get lost, i really do believe the things that you need to move forward are inside you. If something is on the outside of you, it might be a symbol, it might be playing with a level of insanity, but there is a natural place where all humans know what we’re talking about. Some people are superstitious, but I do think there are signs. Everything you need to build your life is right there with you. There may be things in your life that nudge you, maybe in an absurd way perhaps, but they nudge you into a path. I think people think they’re silly and they don’t listen to those things. I think thats why people get lost because they don’t believe in themselves. Some people get trapped and that’s really unfair. I guess I just believe in the will of a person. There is a way out. You just have to really look.
Yeah, I thought I would work at a coffee shop my whole life, but I decided to just quit and try to make it writing. Sure enough, it worked. I think people are more capable of things then they realize.
Right and it’s the doing. You took a risk. You could have thought it was too risky.
Oh I know, I was poor for awhile.
The best things in life don’t come that easy. It does have to be a little uncomfortable. Good things have happened to me because of risk.
I’m living off journalism now. Who would have thought?
I’m very proud of you.
I’m proud of you! You’re living off music and that’s amazing.
I’m very lucky to have this exchange. It’s an amazing part of this journey I’m on.
Beach House with Jessica Pratt, September 25, at Slowdown, 729 N. 14th St., 9 p.m. Tickets are $25. Visit www.onepercentproductions.com for more information.