So what is a cranekiss? I Googled it, but all I could find was things related to the album.
It's not an actual word. Although I hate when artists say this, it's open to interpretation. It was actually written by my co-writer Shaun Durkan. It was the name of an old demo. The visual that I attached to it when I wrote the lyrics to the song (and then it ended up becoming the title of the album) was getting hit by love or getting taken over by a kiss. I imagine being craned into the sky by somebody. Also my favorite band growing up was a band called Crane, so it's a little tribute to that in my mind as well.
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I definitely see where you changed things up -- the last album was a lot more dreamy, where this one's more direct. What influenced you to shift this time around?
Yeah, I've been wanting to make this record for a long time. Some of the demos from this album were actually written before I even made the last album. It's something I've had sitting in my brain, but I didn't know how to pull it off because it was a really ambitious undertaking and I knew that I had to get other people involved, so it was a long period of recording. Jorge Elbrecht produced it and I developed my relationship with Shaun Durkan in a way that it worked out where we didn't do a side project. We ended up having him be part of the band for this album.
When I started making records, I always had it in mind to be diverse and blend genres. I think you can hear that in the songwriting styles of my records, but the overall production and sound of is what makes them considered shoegaze because they have heavily reverb in the guitars. But the actual craft of the songs is pretty wide. On my first record, there's a song called "Dawning"; the song's like Fleetwood Mac. And there's a song called "Love Fade," which is like a goth club song. It's always been there. I just didn't really have the means to make it so obvious. So this time when I went in the studio, there were no rules. We used a ton of different types of instrumentation and really challenged ourselves as songwriters. It was a very, very pleasurable, inspiring, fun experience unlike anything I've ever done before.
And there is a lot of sampling in it, too.
Yep, there's lots of everything. On my old records, it was just modified amps and space echoes and very particular guitar sounds. We recorded all those albums on practice days in San Francisco, two nights a week. They took us years. I love those albums. I think they're very important and special to me, but this was a completely different experience. We used synths, tons of pedals, MPC. We did weird things with MPC, all kinds of cutting and pasting. Nothing was off limits at all.
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What kind of things did you sample from?
From "Softcore," in the breakdown, I did an opus of female orgasms. I went on a bunch of porn sites and took a bunch of girls having orgasms and layered them in the breakdown, in the porno breakdown, which also has a saxophone. Also, in that same song, we sampled the film Paris, Texas, the scene where she's in the peep show talking to Harry Dean Stanton on the phone. There's a lot of different things happening -- a lot of the drums are sample drums. It's very much like Jorge's old band Lansing-Dreiden or Violens. Sometimes Lansing-Dreiden would sound like a symphony but he was really doing it all sampling on MPC.
How did the "Crane Kiss" video come together?
This video that I've made with an artist who I really respect -- Bryan DeGraw from Gang Gang Dance. He's an incredible painter and he draws and he's an amazing musician and an incredible human being. He offered to do it and he did, so I gave him full creative freedom and I just showed up in Hudson (where he lives) in a spacesuit and I just let him do his magic. I think that it's got this alien energy to it. It's somewhat abstract, but it suits the song very well.
We didn't shoot at the studio. We shot it outside, natural light. We didn't really discuss it. There was no treatment. He had a picture of this pineapple in water on a mirror, and I was like, "I want to be that pineapple!" And that was really all we did. We made all the stuff together and he edited it. I think he has a really great eye. It's challenging and abstract, but then there's times where you really see me and it's really bare. I think it has a nice balance. And I love the end -- the end is very Smashing Pumpkins.