Photo courtesy of Mistletone records
Visit Beach House’s MySpace page and two things immediately become clear: they don’t use drum machines and they don’t like labels. Especially gaylord ones like “folktronica”. Beach House, aka Baltimoreans Alex Scally and Victoria Legrand, give a shit about labels as much as they’re likely to give coins to a smackie. What they care about is making amazing, organ-heavy music that floors you quicker than a hit from your older brother’s bong. Their debut, self-titled album is getting kudos everywhere, from our glorious shores to Pitchfork land, who placed the album at number 16 in their top 50 albums of 2006. Back from his first US tour, Alex has plenty to be chuffed about but he’s still got time to chat about his love of corduroy and his 70s look.
Vice: So drum machines don’t tickle your fancy?
Alex: As soon as the record came out all these reviews were saying that we use drum machines. We don’t. Drum machines, for us, represent this whole realm of music that has had no influence on us and we don’t like at all. I guess the reason people mention it is because our music’s got the same repetitive beat over and over again.
Aside from the drum machine thing people have also called you lame-ass names like “Folktronica”.
Yeah, someone called it that. I understand why people use genres; sometimes people need more, they can’t just listen to the music. I think that the use of genres has just gotten totally out of control.
How would you describe your music then?
It’s melody based music. All our songs are pretty different but the thing that unifies them is that they’re all based on melodies—that’s the focus and then we build it up around them.
You were raised and still live in Baltimore. What’s with the town’s crazy mottos like “The City That Reads” and the new one “The Greatest City in America”?
Baltimore had really, really bad illiteracy rates so the theory was that if they said it enough everyone would start reading. Then this new mayor came into office and he changed the slogan to “The Greatest City in America”, which was really funny cause it was such an insane claim to make.
Your band photos are great and you both look pretty stylish. Most bands hate talking about fashion and pretend they don’t give a shit. Do you?
We definitely do. Those photos are just an exaggerated version of how Victoria and I dress. We didn’t want to just have band pictures that were, like, people against a wall—it’s so boring.
What do everyday Baltimoreans wear?
It’s a post-industrial city, very impoverished. It’s not like New York—there’s no fashion scene or anything. It’s slowly becoming gentrified but those people are real bland. They wear clothes from the mall.
Where do you shop?
I don’t really like any clothes that are new so I get all my clothes from the thrift store. Most of my friends do too. That’s the fashion of what I consider the people that really matter today. People are creating amazing styles that are really unique and brilliant. You can do amazing things to your appearance.
What’s your fave stuff?
I really like dark colours. I love boots, I definitely like bigger collars and I like corduroy. I have corduroy pants, a vest and a corduroy coat. I corduroy everything. My friend in New York who’s a fashion person says that 1970s is my sort of look. I like clothes.