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July 19, 2010 | by  | in Music |
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Interview: Best Coast

Music

(Or, In Which I Try Not To Say “Summer Vibes”)

Bethany Cosentino, newfound beach babe, used to be in a band called Pocahaunted. Delving into quarter-hour hypnotic drone jams, she has since moved to greener pastures, in the form of Best Coast. In collaboration with Bobb Bruno, she has been spewing out hazy summer tracks for the best part of the last two years. Now, on the eve of the release of her debut LP Crazy For You, we have a few mumblings from her (and us) about the Best Coast project, and probably a little too much talking about California.

Cosentino loves the beach. The sandy disposition is immediately evident in any of her tracks, from the early blog-hit ‘Sun Was High (So Was I)’ to her album cut ‘Summer Mood’. The sentiments are all Californian palm trees and beach blankets, seeing as she now lives Westside following a stint in New York. But where other summery bands like Ducktails manage to emanate these sunstoned sounds from the faraway reaches of New Jersey, Bethany found creating the music away from the source couldn’t work for her: “When I was living in New York, I really wanted to be playing and writing music—but I just didn’t feel any form of inspiration in terms of music. I went to college out there, for creative writing, and essentially EVERYTHING I wrote was about California—so I guess that is what I was doing there—and this is what I’m doing here. I really truly do feel that I couldn’t be doing this any place other than California, it just doesn’t feel like it would fit… at least not for me.”

Jumping from ten-plus minute drone ecstasy in Pocahaunted into 2–3 minute pop songs may come off like an active movement against her old band, or drone music in general, but apparently not. In fact, according to Bethany, Pocahaunted may not even be entirely defunct: “To be honest I’m not 100 per cent sure what is currently up with Pocahaunted. I didn’t start Best Coast to intentionally go against what I was playing in Pocahaunted. Pocahaunted was then. Best Coast is now. I am really happy playing the music I am playing, and I was really happy playing that music at that time. Honestly, it’s a lot easier to play two-minute pop songs than it was to sit on the floor and play 13-minute-long drone jams—but I had fun doing that, and I’m really happy to be doing this now.”

It’s this enjoyment of her current work which seems to have Cosentino on a roll, releasing Where The Boys Are on cassette approximately a year ago, and having it sell out almost immediately. There were a bunch of CD-Rs floating about, but they’ve been snapped up too. The last year has seen a plethora of 7” and 12” releases across labels such as Art Fag, Tightener, PPM (Dean Spunt of No Age’s label), all leading up to the July 27th release of Crazy For You on Mexican Summer. It’s all fairly straightforward, minor chord changes and longing for boys, the beach, or her cat Snacks, who features on the album cover. It’s a simple sound, but one that seems to have found Cosentino and current collaborator Bobb Bruno plenty of fans in the last year or so, fitting in snugly with those who enjoy lo-fi pop, but don’t want to deal with the tinnitus-inducing Wavves.

And now to the aforementioned Bobb Bruno. The partner in shine for the Best Coast tracks, Bruno is a “magically rad-sounding” collaborator, who helps record, produce and perform in Best Coast. If you watch her video for ‘When I’m With You’, you can see him loitering in the background, while Cosentino relaxes on the beach and orders burgers with a copyright-inducing depiction of Ronald McDonald. According to Cosentino, “(He) will say stuff to me like, ‘Okay, let’s do two layers of that vocal track,’ and as soon as I hear it back I’m like ‘FUCK YES!’ (We) just work together so perfectly that I don’t want to really ever add anyone else into the equation! Just two Bs hanging out, and we plan to keep this going for a while, taking it as it comes.”

So good news all round for those who dig the Malibu aesthetic and good feelings that seem inherently associated with California. And what of those who don’t dig her sound so much? It’s fair to say there’s been more than a little hate for the seemingly scrappy lo-fi output over the last two years, and the lack of production quality for much of her material, and in fact the general Best Coast aesthetic of weed / pizza / chords has been more than enough bait for potential detractors of her output.

“I mean, I’m sure there are already haters out there. It’s sooooo crazy to me how people on the internet act. I mean in all honesty, I haven’t had any direct negative feedback—which is nice, but I’m definitely prepared to deal with the haters when they start showing up, haha. I just think that people who sit around on the internet and blog about how much they hate so and so when they don’t even know them, is really childish and kind of pathetic. But there will always be haters no matter what.”

Until the inevitable hate waves hit Best Coast, it seems to be pretty smooth sailing. With internet kudos riding in from many corners of the globe and her Crazy For You set to be released in a mere fortnight, it seems she can look forward to a pretty stellar 2010. CFY itself is a continuation of what’s come before, albeit with much better production, allowing for vocal audibility, and therefore a chance to showcase her songwriting, without it being buried under fuzz. It’s good lyricism too, extremely self-aware and filled with wry humour about boredom and boys. And yes, the beach. It’s probably about time we had a moratorium on beach-blanket stoner pop (it’s all about Witch House now anyway, duh), so let’s hope that CFY is the last release of this type we have for a while.

In any case, babin’ Bethany looks set to move from blog fame (woooooo) into bigger things with her next single: in a true what-the-fuck move, she has collaborated with members of Vampire Weekend and Kid Cudi. From the beach to the big time, all the way.

Crazy For You is out digitally July 27th on Mexican Summer.

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  1. –i didn’t know she had a legion of haters out there, but i guess that’s how it goes on the internet–there’ll always be the sorts who go on and on anti lo fi and pro prog rock! glad you gave this a shining review!

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