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Keys open doors: How Baltimore indie rock duo Beach House found its sound in America's thrift stores


Vintage keyboards play a large role in Beach House's sound. (All photos by Benjamin C Tankersley/FTWP)

In Sunday's Washington Post, Alex Scally and Victoria Legrand of ascendant Baltimore indie duo Beach House speak lovingly of their dusty vintage keyboard collection -- a gaggle of used-n-bruised synths and organs that the band used to craft its fantastic new album "Teen Dream."

"None of it came from music stores," says Scally, who prowls junk shops on tour with Legrand, searching for used instruments. "I never wanted to be a gear person. I like to just find things at thrift stores and fall in love with them."

After the jump, Scally gives Click Track a tour of the band's rehearsal space, telling the stories behind the keyboards with samples of the Beach House songs they were used on.

Beach House

Yamaha Automatic Bass Chord System keyboard: "This was incredibly fortuitous. [Legrand] found this at a thrift store in south Baltimore and it's become one of the most important organs for our sound. When she found it, it was just a transformative experience for us. It's hard to explain. We love every single sound on it. It's from 1981, right between when everything sounded really cheesy and when things sound really analog. So it's like this mixture of the two sounds that we've really come to fall in love with."

Listen: "Lover of Mine"

Beach House

Roland Rhythm 77 analog rhythm machine: "I was at a thrift store in Montreal and when I saw this, it was instantly my favorite thing in the entire world. It's the part on every organ that has the beats, but nothing else. I thought, 'This thing is going to be huge.' The beat from 'Norway' came from this."

Listen: "Norway"

Beach House

Korg Poly Ensemble S: "This I found at a store in Chicago and I had it shipped home. It's been huge for us."

Listen: "Zebra"

Beach House

Thomas Troubadour 186 organ: "This organ was in my house my entire life when I was growing up. It was a hand-me-down from some uncle. The first ever Beach House song was composed on this organ at like three in the morning in the middle of the summer. And 'Saltwater' [from the band's debut album] was written on this keyboard."

Listen: "Saltwater"


Schubert piano: "This is a Craigslist piano from people who were having a baby and couldn't have it anymore. It's from the early 1900s and it's unbelievably amazing. All the piano on "Teen Dream" comes from this piano. It's really funky and has this clicky, out-of-tune sound that creates a sort of chorus."

Listen: "Used to Be"

By Chris Richards  |  January 22, 2010; 6:30 PM ET
Categories:  Archive  | Tags: Beach House  
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