Beach House frontwoman Victoria Legrand talks album art and setlist selection

Photo: Shawn Brackbill

You released two albums last year. What was the thought process behind releasing Thank Your Lucky Stars unexpectedly and so shortly after Depression Cherry? It’s just something we wanted to do. We didn’t want to wait another several months to put out the record. As artists you have that right to decide when your art should come out. It’s exciting for us, and we get to play many new songs on the road. … It’s hard to have a secret in this world. It’s hard to keep things for yourself with technology, it’s all sort of chic if you can surprise people.

Do you prefer being in the studio or on tour? They’re both extremely vital for an artist. I think you really grow in both directions. Touring really expands your mind and evolves you, makes you stronger; you learn a lot about people. … The creative process teaches you other things. They’re both very important. If you’re going to try and make music, try to get out on the road and actually play shows. If you don’t tour, you’re not really living the full musician’s life.

You’ve been a band for more than 10 years, so I’m sure touring now is a lot different than when you first started. Our first few tours, there was definitely an innocence being in a van. Bus touring is not glamorous; it’s really intense, actually. Van touring is [some] of the best touring we’ve ever done. We’d have the band we were touring with in the van with us. I have very fond memories. You’re selling the merch yourself, playing small venues; you’re not really known yet. … On our first tour we were bringing actual organs with us. It’s very difficult to tour with an actual organ.

Artistically, Depression Cherry stands out because it’s covered in velvet. Why was it important to add that sensory component to the album artwork? That’s what we associated with the record. We didn’t want an image for that album. The color was such an immediate association for us, and then the tactile thing—that’s how ideas happen. It’s very hard to explain the creative process. It’s experiential, like the record. Music makes you feel stuff.

Thank Your Lucky Stars, that cover [of her mother as a child] I feel is very iconic, and speaks to me perfectly, the language and the feminine aspect.

Depression Cherry reminded me of [The Rolling Stones’] Their Satanic Majesties Request, with the hologram cover. Are there any classic albums, artwork-wise, that have really inspired you over the years? Obviously, Nirvana [has] some of the best. Nevermind, In Utero. I love bands that have an aesthetic that is always them, you can pick it out of a group of people. George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass . There was one from The Zombies, an image with these white silhouetted heads [Time of The Zombies]. I’m always drawn to the colors and fonts and type. It’s the intention. It’s nice when people put intention into things. … We like pretty classic packaging, when the music and the visuals make sense together. Putting care and intent into things [are] two big forces behind us. We really follow our instincts, intuitions and desires. It can’t be gimmicky. It’s easy to get gimmicky.

You have a setlist creator on your website. Do you actually use it? Absolutely, every single show. People vote for the songs and pick the ones they want. The setlist generator remains the most useful; we can see the most requested song ... like [if] a lot of people want to hear “Gila” and we’re in Texas. It’s just amazing. It lets us have more of a personal sense and feeling for our audience. We would never just play the same setlist every night. We’d be assuming everybody is the same, [and] every audience is unique and special. It enables us to interact with people we don’t know. I like that people use it. It’s sweet. People care. We don’t always necessarily play them—we’re not karaoke machines—but we do take it into consideration. We base it off our mood and what people want.

Are there any other projects you’re focusing on right now? We’ve been mostly focusing on the shows right now, the performances, the festivals, the travel. There’s always little things, but nothing major right now. Just trying to end the cycle with energy and spirit. This August tour will be our last big U.S. run of the year, and then we’re gonna have a few more shows in the fall.

Beach House with Entrance. August 24, 9 p.m., $25. House of Blues, 702-632-7600.

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Leslie Ventura is a staff writer at Las Vegas Weekly and Industry Weekly. She’s picked the brains of rock stars ...

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