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By Kai Flanders
But between your high school "folkie" period and Best Coast you were in the very experimental Pocahaunted.
That was before I moved to New York. Pocahaunted was a band that I started with my fellow bandmate Amanda. I'd just turned 19, and we started it together and we did it for a few years, and then I made the decision that I wanted to move to New York. It was something that I did for the period of time I lived here up until I moved to New York and then they kept going without me. They continued the band without me and they went in a completely different direction and I don't keep in touch with them, and not for any real specific reasons — it's just that people grow and they change.
But when you were with them, you didn't sound anything like Best Coast.
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No. When we were together it was very droney and there were no lyrics and it was really experimental, and for me as a person who listens to music and plays music for almost all of my life, I've never experimented with music like that. It was so different and new to me, and to be honest, not something that I was really passionate about, but I did it because it was fun and it was fun to play music, it was fun to record and go out and do shows, and we were asked to open for Sonic Youth and that was a really big accomplishment that we got to experience.
When I moved to New York, Amanda really wanted us to continue doing some sort of long-distance thing, and then I really realized it wasn't something ... I felt like I had changed and that I wanted to do something else. I really wanted to focus on writing and wanting to be a writer, and then I realized that wasn't something I really wanted to do anymore, so I dropped out, came back to California, and just started Best Coast, and that's what I've been doing since April 2009. It hasn't stopped.
At first the appeal of Best Coast was the combination of '50s/'60s girl-group/surf/Wall of Sound melodies with a decidedly lo-fi sensibility, courtesy of Bobb Bruno's home studio. There were several 7-inches with that sound which got noticed by some indie tastemakers in L.A. and New York. "I'd heard a few of the early Best Coast singles — but mostly online," says Jeffrey Kaye, label manager for Mexican Summer records, which ended up releasing Crazy for You. "I really enjoyed their music and was psyched to see their evolution."
Adam Shore, owner of buzz-generating website The Daily Swarm and now also manager of Best Coast, remembers hearing them "not long after their first single on [San Diego label] Art Fag came out" and being struck by the fact that, unlike many obfuscating indie artists, Cosentino wrote "classically constructed songs with simple, direct lyrics that are universally relatable." The narrators in her songs, he adds, "are filled with longing and love, but they are fundamentally decent people expressing honest feelings. And I love so much of the same music that Bethany loves — her influences are my go-to bands."
But Best Coast soon moved away from Bruno's fuzzy DIY palette, toward the much more polished sound on the album. The test run for that sound was the single "When I'm With You."
COSENTINO: I wrote that song probably in the summer of last year. I wrote most of the songs in the summer because that was when I was dealing with a lot of the stuff I'm talking about on the record. It was all happening at that time. And then when we figured out that we were going to do a full record, I did sit there and write a couple of songs, like, two months before.
I really wanted the record to have a theme, and I wanted that theme to be longing and heartbreak and dealing with everyday emotions that I think a lot of people deal with but they don't talk about. Having somebody that you really care about not care about you back is something that most people understand, because I think all people have been there at some point. It's a little bit of both worlds: my own personal experience and trying to pay homage to the music that influenced me to start this band in the first place.
"When I'm With You" came out as a 7-inch single. The studio that we recorded at is called Black Iris and they're actually like an ad agency — they write and compose music for film and television. We had this manager at the time [Jake Hurn] who was friends with this guy who owns Black Iris. They wanted us to come in and do a song and what they do is record you for free and then put this 7-inch out and they make it available for digital download, and their main goal is to use your 7-inch kind of as a business card. They give it to industry people and they give it to ad agencies and they say, "This is what we're doing in our studio besides writing music for film and television — we're recording artists."