If you’re looking for music that feels like a dream, plunging the listener into an alternate world where everything gleams with a strange, gentle beauty, few artists will meet that need better than Beach House. So, naturally, when the arts collective Meow Wolf needed a soundtrack for a trippy new exhibition in Las Vegas, the Baltimore duo was one of the first calls they made.
“It was kind of a no-brainer for us,” says Beach House guitarist/keyboardist Alex Scally. “Anything immersive fits with us. We’re interested in fully delving into the realm of feeling.”
Fans can see the result of that collaboration in “Marin’s Dreams,” a seven-minute new music video that Beach House created with Meow Wolf for Omega Mart, a sprawling interactive installation that features hundreds of works of art over 52,000 square feet in Las Vegas.
Meow Wolf has described Omega Mart as “an extraordinary supermarket” lined with “portals leading to surreal worlds full of unexpected art-filled landscapes in which to play.” For Beach House — who created the music that greets visitors in three of Omega Mart’s four main spaces — that’s exactly the kind of artistic world they were looking to explore.
“It’s not something you passively take in or experience for a second,” Scally says. “It’s more like you give yourself over to a world.”
He and singer/keyboardist Victoria Legrand worked with a storyline and a set of musical guidelines provided by a creative team led by Meow Wolf Las Vegas Executive Creative Director Corvas Brinkerhoff. “As you’re passing through the Omega Mart, everything is linked to the same BPM and the same key,” Scally says. “It was such a cool idea, and for us, it’s a fun break from the normal way we make music. We’re so used to working just the two of us that it’s really fun to collaborate.”
The music for “Marin’s Dreams” is a classically Beach House blend of jewel-like synth arpeggios and slow-motion vocals. (“They were like, ‘We want it to sound like you guys — that’s why we asked you,’” Scally says.) The short film, directed by West and written by Kimberly Belflower, with director of photography James Kwan and editor Annie Jaynes, pairs that music with a surreal story about a young woman being born, jumping on a trampoline, attending a spooky prom full of masked strangers, and eventually ending up in, yes, a supermarket, among other psychedelic happenings.
Beach House’s most recent album, 7, came out in the spring of 2018, followed by a tour that ran through summer 2019. Since then, Scally and Legrand have been working steadily on new music without any set endpoint in mind. “We feel slightly controlled and confined by the song-album-tour cookie-cutter thing that is being a professional musician,” Scally says. “Not complaining at all, but it was a relief to spend some time working outside of that [with Meow Wolf]. If anything, it made us want to do that more in the future.”
As for the possibility of a new Beach House album on the horizon, he says, “We’d like to get there. But you never want to say you’re there if you’re not there. Our goal is to make more music.”
Scally had just gotten his Covid-19 vaccine shot a few hours before we spoke, and he’s very much looking forward to the safe return of live music, whenever that comes — not just as a performer but as a fan, too.
“I think I’m going to weep when I’m in a crowd of people, shoulder-to-shoulder, hearing loud sound coming from a stage,” he says. “It’s just so beautiful, and it means so much to everyone to be able to commune in that way. It’s been terrible for the world not to have that, and I can’t wait for it to return.”