An Interview with Beach House for the Block Magazine

An Interview with Beach House for the Block Magazine

Check out the original interview on the Block Magazine website, available here. Rad photo by Evaan Kheraj

“Sadness, heartbreak, longing, all those things are in the music, of course. That’s what pop music is all about.”

“You look familiar,” she says. “I know you from somewhere, right? We’ve met before.” Lead singer and organist Victoria Legrand might sound seductive and gruff when she sings her dreamy, lovelorn tunes, but in the green room she’s relaxed and humble, walking towards me wearing retro blue denim and a smile that could melt butter. For Baltimore-based duo Beach House, it’s broken hearts and soulful crooning on the album, warm fleece and kindness for a stranger. “Actually, I’d love to see you down some of this tequila,” she says, pointing at a full bottle on the table.

Guitarist Alex Scally sits down, brushing back his thick black locks to reveal he’s shaved his beard, but left a rather dapper-looking mustache behind. “Get tanked!” With only a couple of hours to settle in before blazing the stage at Vancouver’s Rickshaw, Legrand and Scally are relieved to be heading home soon after a tour that sold out at nearly every show in the country. Their third full-length, Teen Dream, released by legendary Sub Pop Records, has garnered much critical acclaim despite the pressures of their successes with 2008’s Devotion.

Sitting pretty on a rather tired leather couch, Legrand and Scally are something adorable together. Instantly becoming friends when they met back in 2004, they finish each other’s sentences, poke fun and make the other shriek with laughter. “I have to play off my own stupidity sometimes,” Scally says, while Legrand scrunches up her face at him. It’s easy to mistake a faint trace of love lingering between the lines, but their musical synergy is actually more platonic than that. By listening to songs like “Zebra,” “Turtle Island” and “Gila,” it’s pretty clear that their brains are made of the same blood and wires. They’ve also got the same penchant for thrift store shopping and retro instruments.

While Devotion and their debut set in motion their classic dream-inspired pop sound, full of whimsy and often sprawling instrumental truths, their latest album drifts into more melancholic realms. “This record, more than anything, has been the product of time,” says Legrand, leaning in. “We feel things more clearly now. When we were writing those songs, we became a lot better at creating more physical spaces out of our sound.”

As thoughtful and shy as they may sound on their albums, Legrand and Scally are both visibly disciplined, yet bubbling with extroversion. Abstaining from the tequila and beer they so graciously offer, they perk up and explain the joys of late-night Macgyver reruns. “We don’t get a chance to watch television on tour, but we’ve watched Macgyver. What an idiot,” Legrand says. “No way, Macgyver was killing it,” Scally defends. Unable to decipher a joke from a truth between these two, Legrand admitted to practicing levitation to prepare for a show, while Scally frequently entreats himself to tantric sex with strangers. “It just helps to reset my mind,” he says with an inscrutable smirk.

At the core of it, Beach House is all reverb-soaked, hauntingly beautiful soundscapes, not unlike a striking dream you can’t recollect even though the feelings still move through you. “Sadness, heartbreak, longing, all those things are in the music, of course. That’s what pop music is all about,” Legrand says.


Massive Attack plays at Malkin Bowl

Massive Attack plays at Malkin Bowl

For Exclaim! Magazine

Despite the fine mist that pervaded the air at this Vancouver outdoor venue, the kids and the weirdos danced in bass-heavy reverie at the show. Pounded by low-end frequencies, dazzled by bizarre show outfits and the smell of summer rain mingled with the aroma of thick mud, Massive Attack delivered a stunning performance that was both blisteringly loud and dark as hell.

Hailing from the UK, the sonic collective merges the boundaries of dance, trance and ethereality, and couples this with some serious vocal talents. Not to mention, founding member Robert Del Naja’s (a.k.a. 3D)  is chock-full of boyish Bristol charm that is often juxtaposed by his unsettling, yet seductive whispers. The band’s history may be riddled by tantrums, personal clashes and artistic differences from days of Mezzanine, but at the show, the stage seemed pretty relaxed and focused.

Singer Martina Topley-Bird came out initially wearing a white wool poncho and a bright pink chiffon skirt, bringing the image of a bizarrely-decorated Bjork, but with more vocal resonance. Other core band member Daddy G looked pretty comatose on stage, but from what’s been written about him, his behavior just typified his brooding style. The group baited the crowd with some classics, from the dark ambience of “Intertia Creeps” to the now-appropriated House theme song, “Teardrop.”

Topley-Bird came back on stage later in the show, morphed into a sex goddess wearing something of a Catwoman suit, complete with skin-tight leather pants. A couple of memorable points in the show was when the band launched into an hypnotic performance of “Psyche” from their latest offering, Heligoland, followed closely by a powerful, ear-drum piercing delivery of “Girl I Love You,” one of the most aggressive tunes on the album. But the best part was when roots-reggae legend Horace Andy killed it with “Angel,” a trip-hop classic with Andy’s trademark vibrato. From this position it’s very safe to say that Massive Attack’s groove-heavy neo-psychedelia is only getting better with age.

Kid Cudi says sorry to Vancouver

Kid Cudi says sorry to Vancouver

This pimp will pistol slap you

Exclaim! Magazine published today that notorious rapper Kid Cudi apologized for punching a fan in Vancouver last December. Involving a miscommunication over a wallet being thrown on and off the stage by concert attendee Michael Sharpe, Cudi later called him on the phone, apologized, then offered him an all-expense paid trip to New York City! Apparently the booze coursing through the Cleveland, OH’s blood caused the temper outburst. Blame it on the a-a-a-al-co-alcohol!


Thousands expected at pot rally

Thousands expected at pot rally

for Metro Vancouver

Police don’t plan to make arrests at event celebrating cannabis culture

Smoking marijuana may be a criminal offence, but Vancouver police won’t be looking to make arrests at a pro-pot rally on Monday that is expected to attract thousands of people.

Const. Jana McGuinness said officers will be present at the event, which takes place in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery every April 20.

A contest to win a Blueberry Skunk plant, from 2007

A contest to win a Blueberry Skunk plant, from 2007

“As long as there isn’t a public safety issue, where things would move into the streets, then the event will be able to continue,” she said.

Last year, about 6,000 people took part in the 420 gathering to celebrate marijuana culture. 

Despite open pot use, no arrests were made. That many people are expected to return this year and to spark up joints at 4:20 p.m.

Jodie Emery, Green party candidate for the Vancouver-Fraserview riding, said the event is a celebration of Canadians’ “autonomy.”

The B.C. Green Party platform for the May 12 election includes the legalization of marijuana.

“Millions of dollars go into enforcing marijuana laws, and this money could be used to prevent more serious problems like violent crimes or identity theft,” she said.

Jodie Emery is married to Marc Emery, founder and president of the B.C. Marijuana Party. 

He’s facing extradition to the U.S. for selling marijuana seeds to Americans online.

Transmission 08

Transmission 08

 The first night of the 3-day Vancouver rock show took place at the Biltmore Cabaret. Two years ago this was probably the most depressing, dilapidated bar along the Kingsway corridor, but since the renovations, it has been hosting some of the hottest bands on the local music scene.

Twin Crystals started off the show with their huge, bombastic electro-heavy sounds.  The digital punk-rock trio hybrid are best described as the kind of band that crafts tunes catering to an ADD-riddled generation – fast, catchy, and loud as hell. Drummer Jordan Alexander pounded his set with a superhuman like determination, while frontman keyboardist Jesse Taylor repeatedly screamed “Go to sleep! Go to sleep!” before languishing in a pool of psychedelic, distorted sound waves.

Sandwiched between two heavy acts, Said the Whale came on quickly and entreated the audience to a warm plethora of sounds that were both soothing and invigorating. Playing fresh tunes from their re-released album Taking Back Abalonia, the indie quintet brought a late summer glow to the show. Caught somewhere between the coolness of the Shins and the spiritual ferocity of Broken Social Scene, Said the Whale was the best act of the night. 

Ladyhawk was the most anticipated act at the Biltmore, but afterwards there was a sense of disappointment. In the alleyway leaving the show one could overhear the conversations amongst the hipsters, one of whom was describing a Ladyhawk as “a huge plaid beardo  bro down.” 

Day two was tremendously impressive. More flavour and variety of sounds were played at the gutted-out Storyeum basement in Gastown. Aside from being a bigger, newer space, the venue had two stages going on either side of the building which allowed for smooth set changes and less waiting time for the rest of us.

Prairie-raised Wendy McNeill played music for the heartbroken, using a variety of unusual instruments ranging from the accordion to tiny music boxes. McNeill’s free spirit filled the dark venue as she sang songs about deception and illusion, begging the audience with thoughtful, voyeuristic lyrics such as “tell me what it’s like/ when no one’s watching,” while polishing off her experimental indie folk sounds with the clear “ching” of a triangle. 

Another memorable act of the evening was Pacifika, an alternative rhythmic latin group, that incorporates subtle undertones resonating from their acid jazz influences. Adding tremendous sensuality and softness to the blend, the trio combined dub, electronica and heavier beats while sweeping through the eclectic sounds of latin America over nylon-stringed guitars. Anchored by Toby Peter, a rather dominant bass player, singer Silvana Kane’s voluptuous voice added balance and feminine intimacy to the set list.

On the other hand, Woodhands‘ performance was blistering, deafening and amazing. With just two bodies on stage , the electro-pop duo filled the second stage space with relentless energy and impressive musicmanship.  Vocalist Dan Werb showed his mastery of two electric keyboards, synths and drum machines, while intermittently dancing around the stage without the slightest indication of fatigue. “Chocolate” Paul Banwatt drummed demonically, adding more depth and fervour to the huge electro, heart-thumping beats. 

Despite its quasi-corporate sponsorship, Transmission succeeded as a celebration of independent and local Vancouver artists who decorate the music scene across the whole gambit of genres. From the high strung, teched out electro fiends, the plaid-sporting greaseballs, or the quiet bookish types, this three-day show had something for everyone.