“Beach House,” a new song by the British singer-songwriter Stella Emmett, is theoretically a lark. Emmett’s melodies are breezy and light on their feet, and she has a coolly materialistic attitude that is both very funny and refreshingly no-bullshit. “I’m not in love with you,” she informs her sugar daddy, firmly but without malice. “I’m in love with your beach house/And your white teeth/And your white jeep.” There are moments when the mood turns a bit more sensitive, and you wonder if Emmett’s narrator is quite as emotionally disconnected as she says; still, “Beach House” should be a lighter, poppier take on someone like Lana Del Rey’s doomed luxury.
I say “should be” and “theoretically” because “Beach House”’s music complicates it at every turn, and the song is stranger and more fascinating as a result. Right from the start, it sounds eerie: whining, distorted synths creak from one headphone ear to the other, the off-kilter click of the percussion further enhancing the seasick vibe. Even as the beat settles into a more typical hip hop-influenced groove and introduces a bittersweet bass tone, it feels intriguingly at odds with the lyrics–and yet, somehow, perfectly fitting at the same time. In this day and age, even our material girl fantasies are fraught, ambiguity and dread darkening the edges of a teenage dream.
Is there a story behind “Beach House”? Is it based on true events?
Sort of! “Beach House” came from a situation where I kept having dreams about someone from my past, and it got me thinking about how we can be just as attracted to what a person represents as we are to them.
The lyrics are quite sharp and funny, but the music feels a little off-kilter and occasionally sinister—is that an intentional juxtaposition?
Absolutely, we wanted this song to feel very cinematic and campy. The lyrics on their own read like a cheeky Instagram caption, but the feelings of frustration underneath are very real, and we wanted to express that sonically.
The vocal delivery is a big part of what makes this sound work. Do you have any major vocal inspirations?
I think for this song I was really channeling One of the Boys-era Katy Perry and even a little “Blank Space” Taylor Swift. I wanted to give a poppy performance that verged on menacing.
What are your biggest ambitions for the future?