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Monday, July 9, 2012

Beach House's Alex Scally Doesn't Want to Be Like Katy Perry, the Arcade Fire or Whatever the Media Calls Him

Posted By on Mon, Jul 9, 2012 at 9:05 AM

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Let's shift from reactions to expectations. Teen Dream was a huge success for you guys: Was there pressure to top it going into Bloom?

When we made the album, we didn't put any pressure on ourselves. We didn't start to feel pressure until people started talking about the record and keep bringing up Teen Dream.

So I'm pressuring you right now?

(Laughs.) Yeah. I just think that's how people are: If they like something, they don't let it go. And it's so strange because we didn't really think about it. They don't sound anything alike. They're two vastly different albums, so why should we feel pressure? Each one could not have come without the one before it. For us, they're chapters or something and we don't think too much about it, but with each one we can think about the moments that come to it. We really feel like the first led to the second, the second led to the third, the third led to this one and so on. We could not have this album if we didn't have that first one.

Tell me about the recording process: Why choose El Paso as the hub for Bloom?

Like the last time we recorded, where we go is largely based on the fact that we like to be isolated. We like to be alone out there with nothing but our music. It was also based on having really good equipment. It's an amazing, gorgeous studio with really wonderful Texas presence. It's almost Mexico, which I really love. You go anywhere there and everyone speaks Spanish. It's a very welcoming city, and the people are wonderful. It's right across from Juárez, and it just has a certain feeling to it that is really peculiar. We loved staying there.

Bloom feels like this decidedly cohesive project that was very carefully crafted - and I know you guys left a lot of material on the cutting room floor in Texas. What happens to those songs? Sometimes, they just disappear forever because they no longer make sense to us, and sometimes they appear years later. "Norway" was a reject from our first album. We're really into always trying to just listen to the music. If the song wants to exist and make it as a song, it will stay persistent, and it will convince us to keep it. It will just stay with us until it's out there in the real world. If it's not supposed to go on this album, we'll know, and we'll leave it behind. There were pretty of things that I loved and that we loved that didn't make it to the album, but they don't belong on it.

Bloom, like your other albums, leaked onto the Internet pretty far in advance of its release date. In your opinion, did that affect its success?

Every one of our albums has leaked onto the Internet a great time in advance. It keeps happening. To be honest, it may have been affected because we really wanted to present the album in a certain way, with the artwork as a single piece. We wanted to have people read the lyrics at the same time as they listen to the songs. We were very intentional with making it this one total project. If everyone listened to an album the way the artist wanted to, everyone would be starting off on the same foot.

I don't think people put enough respect into how much effort the artist puts into making the listening an experience. It's not just the sound. It's not skipping to the song order you want to hear on your iPod. There's a lot of respect lacking for the artist's intentions in creating a way for the album to become more than just that sound, and we lose that when things leak out against our control.

Why does that keep happening to you guys?

It happens to every single band every album now. I heard that Arcade Fire stopped it by just never making copies for albums for journalists. They had hard copies that they would bring over while someone listened to it and then take it afterward, which is so crazy. We would just never do that because we want people to sit with it and soak it in. We're just not that vigilant, or maybe just don't care enough. With Arcade Fire and like, Kanye West, people are going to care enough regardless. We would love it if people didn't do that [leak the album], but not because we want to scrounge every cent up, just because we want the listening experience to be important.

One thing you can control is the way your music is used on screen. To what projects do you say no, and is there an ideal pairing you have your sights on?

I think it's always on a case-by-case basis. We're not morally against using music in movies or commercials. I think it can be really great or really interesting -- or just non-offensive. Most of the time we say no, we just think that the ad is offensive. Like the VW commercial, they were asking us to let our song "Take Care" be applied to this really cheesy plotline about a dad taking care of his daughter. We just don't want something to take our music and dumb it down or associate it with this weird image. And there are so many [filmmakers] that we admire, that we would say yes to immediately if they asked us to work on them. There are too many to name, but they're out there.

Beach House will play the Pageant on Wednesday at 8 p.m.

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