Beach House Talk Choirs And “Receiving Messages From The Ether” On Their Spectral New Album

Their band may be called Beach House, but when Baltimore dream-pop duo Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally were ready to record their fifth album they headed to a little place in the country. “It’s called Studio in the Country,” explains Scally, “and it was built in the 70s to be a premier studio way out in the middle of nowhere in Louisiana. Stevie Wonder recorded there, and Kansas recorded ‘Dust In The Wind’ there. It was the spot for a little while. It’s such a cool studio, but in the worst possible place. Studios are the coolest places in the world, but nobody even goes to them anymore because no-one wants to spend the money.”

Having ensconced themselves in rural Louisiana, Legrand and Scally set to work recording a record which sees them return to a sort of simplicity and fragility that they haven’t displayed on record since before the success of 2010’s ‘Teen Dream’ and 2012’s ‘Bloom’ propelled them onto ever bigger and grander venues and festival stages. “We ended up in some big spaces,” says Scally, “like the Roundhouse, or playing to 6,500 people at our own show in Central Park. We played big shows, but we didn’t really enjoy any of them. It didn’t feel like us, at all.”

Their reaction against their own success has led them down a more melodic path, with live drums playing much less of a role than they have before. The album even culminates with a choir singing on closing track ‘Days of Candy’.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GfITojs_mNg

“We brought in eight or nine 19-22 year-olds from Pearl River, Mississippi to sing it,” explains Legrand. “They were really sweet people. To share something that you’re working on with people you’ve never met before and then have them perform it… honestly for us it was a very, very special day. They didn’t have any idea who we were, which was another cool element of it.”

“Church is such a big thing down there that a lot of these people are training to be singers or chorus leaders in the Episcopal churches down there,” adds Scally. “They were just excited to be in a professional studio.”

The title of the record, ‘Depression Cherry’, “came out just like that,” says Legrand. “Those two words side by side. My antenna picked it up. We tried other titles but they couldn’t encompass things in the same way. It’s artistic. It’s playful. It’s a shape-shifter for whoever is looking at it.”

“It wasn’t an album title at that point,” explains Scally. “Victoria receives messages from the ether, and that was one of them. It was just a word-game.”

While those two words helped to colour the mood of the album, they’ve also influenced the red velvet album cover. That’s actual velvet, for both LPs and CDs. “It didn’t feel appropriate to have an image represent this album,” says Scally. “It felt more exciting to have something you can feel and sense. It matched the music more than a graphic or a photo.”

That sense of feeling being more appropriate than artistry pervades the whole album. “We didn’t want to fuss over it forever,” says Legrand. “There’s a moment when it’s just right. In French they say c’est juste. It’s neither right nor wrong, good or bad. It’s the form. The imperfections are perfect.”