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(Credit: Shawn Brackbill)

Music

Beach House reveal the influences behind their sound

Baltimore dream-pop duo Beach House have worked hard over the past 15 years to embed themselves amongst the rich history of the shoegaze and dream-pop nook in the rock music soundscape. They draw from a number of obvious influences who have often also been close friends and creative collaborators over the course of their career. 

Alex Scally and Victoria Legrand met in the hustle and bustle of Baltimores indie-rock scene and soon became close friends throwing musical ideas back and forth. After the successful release of their early single ‘Apple Orchard, they set about recording material for their debut album in the cosy confines of Scally’s basement. The album was an early embodiment of success in the US and by the time they were looking to release the record in the UK and Europe, Beach House had received the interest of the Bella Union record label founded by none other than Simon Raymonde of Cocteau Twins, who saw huge potential, and likely a piece of his former work, in the American duo. Beach House released their subsequent albums with Bella Union and remain with the label to this day. 

The distinctive Beach House sound was first exhibited in their self-titled debut album in 2006 but was mastered in 2008 for their second album Devotion. The album received widespread critical acclaim and word began to spread across the Atlantic to the UK, the spiritual home of shoegaze having spawned many of the late 1980s and ‘90s legends of the genre. 

Once Twice Melody, the latest release for the band, is a four-chaptered album. The first two chapters were released in November and December 2021 with chapters three and four just weeks from release. This double LP is shaping up to be among Beach House’s finest work and has been graced by the collaboration of Alan Moulder (who co-produced My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless), Caeser Edmunds (who has collaborated with Ride), and founding member of Mercury Rev, Trevor Spencer. 

With this wealth of support from legendary artists, it isn’t hard to find the source of inspiration for much of Beach House’s recent material in the similar artists who paved the road behind them. However, when asked about his early influences, one half of the duo Alex Scally described some of their influences that might seem a little more detached from their signature sound: “I’d say that wholesale, Victoria and I are just music lovers. There isn’t any world of music that hasn’t hit us. So … classic music from the ’50s and ’60s was the main music—Motown, The Beach Boys, Doors, and all the early soul and rock n’ roll—it was everything. And as I got older it was The Cure, Bob Dylan, Bob Marley. All of these people. The greatest people were also [our] greatest influences.”

When later quizzed on the links between Beach House and the early British dream-pop outfit Cocteau Twins, Scally surprisingly answered: “We didn’t really listen to them. Strangely, they weren’t part of us. I certainly love the Cocteau Twins, but they weren’t a big part of my early musical life at all.”

It seems that despite a recent fondness and influence from their forebears of the dream-pop throne, the original sound cultivated by Beach House drew in the interests of like-minded musicians and producers through a more convergent evolution. Thanks to the collaboration and influences of so many disparate artists over their years, Beach House appear to be in the midst of something very special with their new album Once Twice Melody.

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