Beach House Victoria Legrand
Photograph: David Belisle

Beach House’s Victoria Legrand on the making of Once Twice Melody

We chatted with one half of the critically acclaimed dream-pop duo about their latest album and the band's legacy

Adena Maier

Over the course of their nearly two-decade-long career, Baltimore duo Beach House have become almost synonymous with the dream-pop genre, with nine albums worth of dreamy and hypnotic soundscapes. The duo is comprised of lead vocalist, keyboardist and songwriter Victoria Legrand and co-writer, guitarist and backing vocalist Alex Scally – who are self-described musical soulmates. 

With the release of their latest album Once Twice Melody, which they’ve chosen to release in parts rather than with singles, the band has created their most sonically complex and cinematic work yet. The first three chapters are currently available on streaming services, and the fourth chapter will be out on February 18. 

I chatted with Victoria about the making of the album, how the band’s creative process has evolved over the years and what she loves about Australia. After resolving a few technical and sound issues that resulted in me sounding demonic or, according to Legrand, "like Sigourney Weaver in Ghostbusters", here’s what she had to say.

What inspired the decision to release Once Twice Melody in four parts?

“We decided after we'd finished writing everything, and there were so many components and phases to the album. The album took on so many heads and faces and manifestations, so when thinking about how to release it, it just didn’t feel like something that was going to be a single [followed by] putting 18 songs out.  It wanted something more thoughtful and creative, so we tried to construct a creative way of not releasing singles but releasing chapters. It makes the time between releases more engaging and less sterile and boringly traditional.”

Beach House has been making music for nearly 20 years now. How do you two keep things fresh with your approach? 

“I think the curiosity, the visions, the sharing and that collaborative feeling between us hasn’t died yet. In any relationship, you know, I’m sure that all things come to an end, but I feel for whatever reason that the playfulness and the curiosity that Alex and I share together hasn’t disappeared. I don’t know why exactly or what it is, but I know that we’re grateful for it.” 

Once Twice Melody has a more ethereal and bright sound compared to your last release, 7, which was a lot darker and grittier. What were the main differences while producing the two albums? 

“I feel like 7 came together really quickly. It was almost too easy, very seamlessly. And there was some sort of darkness to it, some sort of hardened element. With Once Twice Melody, we started in 2018 and said we were going to take our time making it. But we always say this, you know, and then deadlines start to happen. But then the pandemic occurred and it was just like a sign from the universe, like ‘Alright well, you didn’t want a time frame, so here you go.’

“It’s foolish to want a band to make a second record that sounds like another record. It’s just impossible. You can’t fully recreate the past, you just move forward. And Once Twice Melody is the result of years of crazy journeys, euphoric ups and heartbreaking lows.” 

On top of working on this album, what have you been up to in the last few years during the pandemic?

“I think for all of us, there was a tendency to turn inwards. It was a difficult time for everyone, but we worked a lot, and working on art and music was the lifeline. I’ve personally always been a nature child, so I found incredibly moving, peaceful and powerful connections with those little symbols that are right outside your door. It was a period of intense minutiae, but also an opportunity to dream about places and envision fantasies and create theatre and drama and stories. So for as isolating and dampening as it has been, I think it’s incredibly important to take the positive realisations out of it and make something with it.” 

This is Beach House’s only double album - was that intentional from the beginning?

“When we began this journey, we had so many pieces of music and we started off with probably more ideas than we’ve ever had, like a scroll of songs and ideas. It really came down to editing and challenging creative use of sequencing, and I don’t think we could ever have done this ten years ago. This is the result of a life spent doing this.” 

Can we look forward to an Australian leg of a tour sometime soon, travel permitting? 

“It would be lovely to get back there. I love Melbourne, and I’ve also had great memories in Byron Bay. I remember every single thing that I think has happened to me in Australia because it’s such a journey [to get there], and it’s a really intense experience when you travel far to someplace. It’s much more potent than when you just pop in and out of like, New Jersey.  The last time we played Sydney was incredible, and we have great memories of hanging out with people in Melbourne. I love the slight differences between the two cities.” 

Looking to check out some live music? Here's our guide to the best gigs happening in Melbourne this month. 

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