Grit, grime and feeling fine: A chat with Best Coast’s Bethany Cosentino

Monday 27th, April 2015 / 13:50
By Paige Paquette
Photo: Retrieved from Best Coast Facebook page.

Photo: Retrieved from Best Coast Facebook page.

VANCOUVER — Heavily influenced by ’60s pop, Best Coast is known for their signature sound which amalgamates high energy surfer rock with dark and shadowy lyrics. In their most recent release California Nights, they have let themselves go in a bit of a different direction, exploring a safari-city rock style. Back in late 2013 Best Coast, comprised of duo Bethany Cosentino and Bobb Bruno, released their EP Fade Away through Cosentino’s label, Jewel City. Cosentino created Jewel City at the time because it didn’t seem smart to sign to a major label. After finishing their third full-length album they met with Harvest Records who Cosentino explains “Seemed really, really excited about the record and didn’t have any sort of intention of changing things.”

With a new label and a couple years since their last release, Best Coast went into the studio with the same intentions but came out with a new and different product. They evolved from a genre that could once be leisurely listened to on a sunny Saturday at the beach to a musical style that demands recognition.“I don’t think it was necessarily a decision we consciously made to sort of change our sound, it’s just the production of the record is totally different.” The songs on California Nights chronicle Cosentino’s journey as she comes into herself, with the subject matter oscillating from resistance to acceptance. “There’s a song on the record called ‘When Will I Change’ and another called ‘Feeling Okay’ that are a sort of yin and yang – like they belong together in this way where I feel like this record is a coming of age story which talks a lot about all this shit I had to go through to get to this point on the record with the song ‘Feeling Okay.’ It’s really just about trying to come to terms with the fact that you don’t have to be your own worst enemy and life doesn’t have to be as hard as you make it.”

Photo: Retrieved from Best Coast Facebook page.

Photo: Retrieved from Best Coast Facebook page.

Attracted to the imperfections of the night, Cosentino wanted to use the record as a metaphor for the idea that there’s a lot of contrasting shades in California, especially L.A. “It’s like everyone sees it as this picturesque place where there’s palm trees and blue skies, everybody is beautiful and walks around in short shorts, but there’s also a lot of darkness and grittiness to it,” she explains, “L.A. is a city that has so much poverty, a ton of crime and a lot of sketchy shit that goes on. A lot of people aren’t necessarily familiar with this unless they’re in the entertainment industry or live in L.A.” With their new found confidence as people and musicians the two parts of Best Coast felt more empowered to explore influences they felt were out of reach before because they wouldn’t ‘fit’ what their fans expect from them.

Taking an almost two-year break from touring consistently has allowed the group to re-centre and decompress without the intensities of touring. This fostered an internal growth and stronger personal connection with themselves – one that is clearly portrayed through the more optimistic version of Best Coast that appears on California Nights. For the upcoming tour they’re playing as a five piece with an added member, a guitar player named Joey. “I get to stand there and explore this idea of being a front woman without a guitar. Singing for me is what I feel is my strong point so it’s nice to have those moments and breaks in the set where I can just kind of be a little bit of a show off for a second.” At the beginning of June, Best Coast will rock Vancouver with engaging, positive vibes that are sure to leave everyone ‘feeling okay.’

Best Coast’s new full-length album California Nights hits the shelves on May 5th. Catch them live at the Imperial on June 3rd.

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