Beach House’s Victoria LeGrande: smoke, mirrors, femininity and the spaces we make

Vancouver Weekly interviews Beach House’s Victoria LeGrande

Beach House first touched the stereos and hearts of many with their eponymously named album 12 years ago. Their multi-valent sound, which fluctuates between a candle lit lullaby in a closet and a psychedelic cathedral, now finds a home in 7, the band’s most recent album. In order to promote the album the band will soon begin an international tour that includes the US, Europe and Canada.

The original duo of Alex Scally (multi-instrumentalist) and Victoria LeGrande (vocals, keys) is accentuated by drummer James Barone, who plays on the album. 7’s sound, dreamy and loud, continues the electric invocations of past albums and builds on it.

Vancouver Weekly talked to LeGrande  from their home base/studio in Baltimore, Maryland as she and the band tried to tie loose ends at home before they were able to “cast a spell, say a prayer, throw some salt over the shoulder and disappear into the tour.” She is very kind and there is a playfulness behind her thoughtful words. She laughs about having had too much coffee and jokes about an earlier time when the band, crossing the border in a van, was held up because of a jar of sand collected in New Mexico (you can put together what the border-police thought it was).

More rooted than ever after the completion of a home studio, with seven full albums around them, LeGrande still speaks fondly of being able to make anywhere home while on tour.

“Traveling and being transient have always been a part of her life,” she says. This is reflected in the synthesizer journeys and narrative depth of Beach House: from Gila, to Norway, to the void itself … we are drawn by misty lamentation of the everyday to far out places and into the depths of our own hearts.

Immersive experiences are important for LeGrande in a day and age where the internet has intensified self-consciousness and proliferated façades. “It’s all angles,” she says about the unrealistic images of contemporary culture that creates unreal standards for young people, especially young women. This is a theme that runs through 7.

“I can’t imagine what it’s like to be a young woman today” says LeGrande. “But what I would say to young people is: forge your own path. The internet makes it feel like everyone is doing the same things—I don’t think that’s actually the case—there are disciplines with which we can make everyday full of creativity and laughter.”

LeGrande, and Beach House’s music in general, asks us to look at the ceremony of everyday life and the possibility of immersion, of getting lost in the moment, of finding “the ridiculous everywhere,” amidst the smoke and mirrors of our culture.   

But smoke and mirrors can be lovely, even enchanting, when presented by people who care. Having been trained in the theatre, LeGrande commented that folks don’t come to the theatre to be reminded of their day.

“If people can be helped or healed or just go on a trip then we have succeeded and that means a lot to us,” says LeGrande.

Beach House helps us do just that.

All of their albums are at once intimate and cosmic. They take a space and fill it in a way that allows for community, introspection and release from the vacant reflections of the day. It’s always been about collaboration and energy—between the prolific duo of LeGrande and Scally as well as between the audiences at the shows:

“The different people everywhere keeps the tours alive—the newness and the differences everywhere,” says LeGrande. “Every time we do a long tour we come out having learned a lot about our work, life, reality, ourselves. We are able to continue touring because we don’t do it robotically. We don’t assume that people want the same things because they don’t.”

The new album utilizes a poetics of space and detail while picking up the pace. Sometimes you feel likes 7 is bringing you somewhere, and sometimes it feels like it is reanimating what’s already around. Dramatizing it. And then sometimes, it feels like both at once. In their show we can expect a space that lights up “ways to keep having fun” in order to “not get leveled by reality and chaos.”

LeGrande says that she’s excited to bring their new songs north again.

Catch Beach House at the Orpheum August 12th