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Beach House returns to Pittsburgh, promoting Sub Pop release Teen Dream

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Abstract and free: Beach House's Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally, from left
  • Abstract and free: Beach House's Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally, from left

Beach House's eerie, layered dream-pop already had attracted some buzz when Alex Scally and Victoria Legrand made the trek up from Baltimore to play for a small crowd at Garfield Artworks in late 2006. Since then, the duo's star has risen steadily, even as its sound has remained mysterious and Mazzy Star-esque. Adding a live drummer to its show and recordings gave the band a more dynamic pulse, and its stunning third album, the white-packaged Teen Dream, came out in January on indie powerhouse Sub Pop. For all that, Scally says the band still has "a lot of brotherhood with the other post-industrial cities," noting that its current tour, which stops at Diesel on June 16, is making additional Rust Belt stops in Cleveland and Buffalo.

 

How has signing with Sub Pop changed things?
We're still completely our creative directors in every way; we haven't really let them in our creative side of things. They have a press person, they have a person who helps set up interviews, they oversee the making of the record, they help get it in record stores -- all the same things that our old label did, except they have more facilities and more sponsorships. This year, they took us to Sundance, which was cool -- they want to help us meet people who make films. 

You originally played to drum machines -- how has a live drummer changed your sound?
It's a huge part of the show. We've really come to love and want to have the drums helping with the dynamics: bringing the cymbals in really loud, and using the bass drum to bring a lot of power, physical power to the shows.

With all of the layering going on in your songs, have you had to bring in more technology?
No, we've been essentially doing the same thing since the beginning: loops, and live keyboards and drums and guitar and singing. So, not really anything different in that department. It's pretty simple.

What was the idea behind releasing a DVD of music videos for each of the songs on Teen Dream?
When someone in the music industry says "music video," it's not that kind of thing. The conceptual energy behind that was, we wanted to treat it like a curation -- another step in the experience of the record. We make it, we choose the video artists, and then they make something. So it's a long chain of reaction. The idea was just to extend the visual library, or extend the visual iconography associated with what we do. It's kind of an exercise of mind-expansion. 

Mind-expansion?
Even for us. We just gave artists that we like the songs, and said "Just make whatever you want." And we'd get them back, and even for us it would help show us a new side of the music, which is what we wanted to have happen.

Do you think that's particularly appropriate for the kind of music you're doing -- is it music you're meant to experience more at home?
Uh, I dunno -- come out to the show and see. It can be a great group experience, it can be a home experience. There's no unanimous vision of what it is. I'm sure it's completely different for everybody who listens to it. It's not music that's meant to be on a dance floor, like so much pop music, where the purpose is extremely explicit -- this is music that you shake your body to -- or music that sounds ridiculously sexual, bedroom music. It's not like that, it doesn't have an explicit vibe. Hopefully. Having it be abstract and free is a huge part of it for me and Victoria.

What's the larger vibe or scene like in Baltimore?
I think the unifying artistic thread in Baltimore isn't one of aesthetics, really. I think it's more just the energy people have in the city; there's a very independent, excited, do-it-yourself energy around Baltimore. It's easy to live there without working a lot of hours, and there's tons of people doing tons of different stuff. And I think it's really easy to get support and to go out every night and play and be seen, and have excited, wonderful people around you. But I don't think that there's necessarily an artistic, aesthetic thread running through it. Personally, I don't see that. I see a lot of different things that are all taking off in their own ways.


Beach House with Moss of Aura. 7 p.m. Wed., June 16. Diesel, 1601 E. Carson St., South Side. All ages. $15 ($18 day of show). 412-431-8800 or www.dieselpgh.com

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