Talking ‘Depression Cherry’ with Beach House

life’s a beach

by busra erkara

Even as a journalist, you're allowed to be biased toward some bands, and Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally’s Beach House is one of those bands for me. And although the Baltimore-based duo’s pet peeve is being referred to in sparkly Tumblr language (“dreamy,” “ethereal,” ”otherworldly”), I did spend most of my early 20s trying to “transport” myself to a better place by listening to them. In true Beach House tradition, their fifth album, Depression Cherry, does not sound drastically different from their previous work—it is familiar enough to feel like home, yet laden with between-the-lines nooks that Legrand and Scally have artfully carved into every track. Here, we talk about growing up, and blowing away.

There is a closed-circuit quality to Depression Cherry that reminds me of Beach House and Devotion. Did you feel like you were stripping your sound down to its core?

Alex Scally: I think we started to feel burdened by the presence of drums. Drums crush subtlety— they’re like a big guy coming in the room and stepping on everyone’s feet. So when we got back from our last tour, a big part of writing was like, “Okay, let’s just write, experiment, make music, and follow our whims.”

Victoria Legrand: Which is like the earlier days where it was just, the whole time, the two of us. 

It’s been almost a decade since your first full-length album. When you look at your lives, moving into your 30s, where do you see the most change?

VL: You listen to yourself more. It’s something so subconscious that you can’t even analyze it. It’s like this building is swaying slightly, moving with everything in the world.

AS: I think all artists are trying to shorten the distance between them, the truth, and that perfect mirror of feeling, their work. If anything, we’re just trying to get truer and truer.

What were you thinking when you came up with the name Depression Cherry?

AS: Both of those words have strong, heavy connotations on their own, and it’s kind of irreverent for us to just throw them together. It’s like a dance between these two energies. That very abstract feeling summed up the energy field of the record for us.

The culture surrounding us is obsessed with what’s happening next, which kind of takes away from how much time and work goes into making something. What keeps you going in the face of that?

VL: For me, it’s about being aware of all the frequencies. Having grown up in a non-Internet universe, it’s not as hard for me to tune out that stuff, go in, be alone, and try to hear what my thoughts are. And in this band, it’s quite simple for us, actually. We live in Baltimore. We work there. We work. It doesn’t get more complicated than that for us. Maybe if we lived in New York, it’d be different. Maybe if we lived in L.A., it’d be different. 

AS: The music is our world. The process is simple. The actual work is not simple, but the mentality that goes into it is.

Having worked together for so many years, do you have any day-to-day studio rituals? 

AS: We have day work and night work. They’re very different. Working during the day creates this one energy field, while working at night is a totally different one. 

VL: There are nice patterns and rhythms that happen. I’ve always liked having a very good day or night of work, and then I leave and when I'm driving home or something, there’s this moment of reflection. Sometimes it’s frustration, sometimes it can be that your outlook on the world has changed because of some kind of creative moment you had that day. Maybe those aren’t rituals but definitely moments that recur in any album writing. Also, maybe there’s something slightly monastic about it—the studio is a sacred place for us. It’s where every record since Teen Dream has been written.