Victoria LeGrand, the French-born singer of Baltimore-based duo Beach House, exudes a strong sense of self. At 34 years old, she already has solid grasp on what she wants and, apparently, how to get it. After all, since leaving the International Theatre School of Jacques Lecoq in Paris, France, her steady rise to notoriety in the music world was a result of her hard work and determination. “Fame” in this industry is not an easy task with the multitude of bands coming out every day. It seems sinking into the sea of fledgling musicians would be easy, however, thanks to the success of 2010’s Teen Dream, Beach House has stayed afloat. Along with musical soulmate, Alex Scally, LeGrand followed up with 2012’s Bloom and the recently released Depression Cherry. While the new album retains the ethereal sounds that have made Beach House stand apart from their contemporaries, the duo still manages to capture a freshness. The combination of LeGrand’s nearly androgynous voice and Scally’s airy guitar sounds have the ability to transport the listener to a comfortable, safe place. Like a warm blanket, each note of the organ, every stroke of the keyboard, every element of every song envelops and holds you. In Part One, LeGrand digs into her philosophies of the creative process, the magic of music and, of course, the new record.
Now! Omaha: In our last interview, you said, “Kids, don’t do heroin.”
Victoria LeGrand: That sounds like me.
I used part of that interview for a piece in Vice on the “Death of the Rock Star.”
Music is not a job. For us, it’s still a passion. There are moments when there are job aspects to it, but when we were talking about the rock star thing, I think it’s also the era we’re living in. There are probably a lot more people taking care of themselves because of the past. I don’t know if people want to die at 27. I don’t think that’s something that should be encouraged or be a goal. I wanted to specify the job aspect is people are probably taking better care of themselves than people might have been in the ‘60s and ‘70s. But I also know a lot of people who don’t care of themselves, probably myself included.
I’m not trying to be the poster child for a healthy performer.
I think you had a solid grasp on it. Let’s start talking about the new record. The record came out. I am curious, when you put out a new album, what are your expectations? Do you have any?
Once the record is out, I don’t have expectations, but when we’re writing and working on the songs, it’s not really expectations, it’s we have these desires and visions of where we think the songs want to be or like how we want them to feel; how we feel. There’s this very internal part of making a record when it’s just you and the songs. I think sometimes there are subliminal expectations where a song in your imagination can go. That’s very different than expecting how many albums you’re going to sell. I think one is very beautiful and creative, and that type of other thinking, for me, is not related at all to expectations one might have for themselves while they’re working. I think every human has a place in their minds that they feel their best or they’re doing their best work, and it’s a very personal type of expectation. As artists, we want the songs to survive. We want the original little thing that got us working on the song in the first place to survive and once we’ve done a few songs and you realize you’re writing a record, you get a certain kind of feeling when it starts to come together. You want the album to survive, as well. Where it goes after you’re done, you reach the point you feel you’ve done all you can, that’s the unknown.
I read you said something like when you’re writing a song, you’re taken to a place or emotion and if you go to a place then maybe somebody else will go to a place while listening to your music. It does take you to a place.
It’s energy. If you’ve ever written a letter to someone, like let’s say your friend is moving away, and you have a certain energy when you’re writing a letter, you’re putting emotion into the letter. It’s a feeling, but it’s coming out through the words. I believe the intention someone puts into something can be felt by the person it’s either being written for, given to or the person that’s just on the other side that doesn’t realize they’re going to be affected by that thing, but for some freaky reason, it happens, which is what music does. If you’re walking down a street and you hear a song wafting out of a restaurant, right, for some reason that particular time of the day, that particular thing hits you and it makes you feel something, that’s the incredible thing about music. The way that it affects people is unknown. It’s a far out thing. It’s the way that probably like everybody that’s ever made music would say they feel. It’s like playing with some kind of magic or a mystical world.
It is magic. I always say I’m at a good show if I get goosebumps. I don’t know how it happens, but it just takes over and I’m so happy. It’s the best thing in the world. How do you explain that?
You can’t. You can’t go here’s the office manual for having an experience. Well, it doesn’t really work that way.
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.