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Thursday, July 21, 2011

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Third time's a charm: Beach House members Victoria Legrand (left) and Alex Scally have put two years into the making and promotion of their critically acclaimed third release, the 2010 album "Teen Dream."

Beach House live out teen dream by coming to Japan

Special to The Japan Times

Earlier this year, indie-rock group Beach House found themselves in unfamiliar territory. Two of the Baltimore duo's older tracks were sampled by much buzzed-about R&B project The Weeknd on their hyped-up debut mixtape meaning once intimate dream-pop was now serving as the soundtrack for drug-powered sex jams. Beach House lead singer and organist Victoria Legrand says she's completely fine with that.

"I find it really interesting, and I like the genre," she says. "I like thinking about why an artist would be drawn to that. It's fun."

The Weeknd aren't the only ones celebrating Beach House. The band's third album, "Teen Dream," released in early 2010, proved to be their most successful record yet. It received glowing reviews from critics and topped many year-end Top 10 lists.

"The whole process of that album was two years of our lives," says Legrand. "It started in 2009, and by the time we got home it was 2011."

Following the release of "Teen Dream," Legrand and guitarist/keyboardist Alex Scally spent most of 2010 on the road, playing shows from North America to Austrailia. Despite a busy year, Legrand says they can't wait to get back on the road, and are especially looking forward to making their Japanese debut at this year's Fuji Rock Festival.

"Going to Japan is the thing I'm most excited about this year," Legrand says. "I'm going to bring an extra suitcase and fill it with amazing things that I find there."

Legrand says that few tour stops have made the duo as excited as their first trip to Japan. Whereas some other international acts canceled their tours of the country following the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, mostly due to radiation fears, she says Beach House had no second thoughts.

"Not even for a second (did we think of canceling)," she says. "Life has to go on. I feel it might be an unnecessary fear."

Legrand says she studied Japanese theater in college, and enjoyed Japanese literature when she was younger. She adds that Scally is a big fan of Joe Hisaishi, who composed the music for films such as "My Neighbor Totoro" and "Ponyo."

"I'm most excited about literally seeing things. Just being surrounded by the mountains ... just experiencing the travel, the trains," Legrand says. "I've always sort of had this love affair with Japanese culture, and it has never been consummated."

Legrand formed Beach House with Scally in 2004. They released their self-titled debut album in 2006 to positive reviews, which often labeled the group's intimate sound as "dreamy" and compared them with bands such as Mazzy Star. Their sophomore release, "Devotion," came out in 2008 to similar praise from critics. During the tour behind that record, they began working on what would become "Teen Dream." That album came out on Sub Pop in the United States, and shortly after its release the band embarked on their marathon tour.

The extensive touring exposed Beach House to more festivals across the globe, from the Coachella festival in California to Primavera Sound in Spain. To help beef up their live sound, they have enlisted a drummer to play with them. Legrand also says that as the duo's music has evolved, their live performance has become "thicker and more powerful."

"We've played so many festivals that it's fun. It's not a challenge," Legrand says. "We've gotten really used to it."

Beach House play the Red Marquee stage at Fuji Rock Festival in Naeba, Niigata Prefecture, on July 31 (4:30 p.m.; ticket prices vary). For more information, visit www.fujirockfestival.com or www.beachhousebaltimore.com.

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