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Walking into Amoeba Records on Haight Street, we're ushered past a stage where Bob Bruno, one half of lo-fi band Best Coast and his road crew are setting up amps and guitars for a free 5pm show. Growing numbers of angst-ridden, rainbow-haired teenagers are filling the Amoeba aisles between stacks of CDs.
We head upstairs where the walls are covered with tattered band posters into a room with a distinct Almost Famous vibe. Bethany Cosentino, the female half of Best Coast, is perched comfortably among images of past Amoeba performers: Sly And The Family Stone, Jerry Garcia and Lana Del Rey—and she's cool as a cucumber.
Following two successful albums and the launch of Best Coast's music label, Jewel City, Bethany is the woman behind the sparkly good vibes leading the new wave of California's music scene. Joining her on the couch, we talk about Best Coast's new EP Fade Away, Miley Cyrus's pleather booty shorts, and feeling confident as a hallmarked style icon.
When did you guys get into town?
"We flew here this morning and fly back right after the show. We leave for Asia on Sunday. Everyone wants to go home and chill in LA before we leave for our tour."
Are there any places in particular you like to visit when you are staying in San Francisco?
"I do have quite a few places I love to go to when I'm here. I really like the Wasteland on this street (Haight) they have some of the best stuff. Every time I've ever shopped on Haight Street I always find good stuff. I love to eat at Herbivore, in the Mission, so I'll go there a lot. I love stopping in at Aquarius Records. I really like that one thrift store in Mission, Thrift Town? Although I feel like everyone goes there so it's kind of picked over."
Do you guys have a favorite neighborhood or hotel you typically stay at?
"Usually we stay at the Phoenix Hotel when we are in town longer because we like to use the pool."
You're here to perform your new EP, Fade Away, which is produced under your new music label, Jewel City. Do you find that you have more freedom with your style now that you are touring and performing under your personal label?
"No, I mean I was always just doing my own thing. Luckily no one was like, oh you have to wear certain clothes. The label we were on before was really into me having my own style and being myself. I did a clothing line and they kind of helped orchestrate it."
How would you define your style?
"I'm very inspired the 1990's. I wear a lot of 90's stuff."
You've cited Bay Area babe, Stevie Nicks, as a favorite?
"Mmhmm. I try to do a witchy, goth, 90's thing."
Which is so hot right now?
"Luckily, I have a chosen the right path."
The stars are aligning for you?How do you get dressed for a free show like this? Do you have any on tour style rules you've made for yourself over the years?
"Not really. I love fashion, but when we play I just wear stuff that I would normally wear. I don't really try to dress up. I wanna look like myself and wear comfortable (clothes). I am constantly evolving. From when we first started, to now, I dress so completely different. But I mean I was 23 years old when the band started and I'm 27 now so my style is changing with me. I do think about things like, 'Is it going to be hot?' I never wear long sleeves or sweaters or things that will make me sweat because I hate sweating on stage."
Speaking of sweating in front of the masses, do you do anything different for your on-stage beauty routine?
"I don't really wear a lot of make-up. I used to. I don't really anymore. It's not that I don't want to deal with it, but I kind of like a fresh face. When I do photo shoots I always do glam makeup and that is fun. But for me personally, like when I am getting myself ready?I'm kind of like?like I bought eyeliner for our last tour and I was trying to do a cat-eye every night and I just couldn't do it. It was just not a thing I could do normally. I usually stick to eyebrows and mascara—that is about it. I have a hair and make-up girl but I only use them for music videos or photo shoots and stuff."
So you're getting ready to go on tour in Asia soon, how do you pack and prep yourself for a long-haul concert tour like that?
"I have this weird thing where I don't like to wear the same thing more than once on stage. I'll wear the same skirt or something but I never wear the same outfit—so I over-pack when I go on tour. And everyone's always like, 'OMG Bethany has that giant suitcase with her again.' I'm just like, 'I'm a GIRL.' Everyone else is a boy. So they bring like two t-shirts. I just pack things I'm currently feeling at the moment. I always bring a lot of tights and socks. I'm into thigh-highs. But I am one of those people—when I pack I definitely overly pack for everything."
Do you have any fashion or music icons you look to for style inspiration?
"Definitely someone who I really look up to, fashion-wise, is Stevie Nicks. I've always been really into her style. My mom dressed like that when I was growing up. She was very like, witchy. She loved that vibe. I'm also really into, and some people think this is really lame, but I really like the way Miley Cyrus has been dressing lately?I think she looks rad, I think she's doing her own thing."
She looks like she fell out of Nasty Gal's closet.
"Yea. I know she wears a lot of Nasty Gal. I don't know. I just respect that she is trying to lose that Disney Channel image and she's like I just want to wear, weird latex booty shorts. Haha."
Do you use a stylist on tour, in life, or for music videos?
"I do have a stylist. She'll send me photos of clothing or if I tell her I'm liking a particular item she'll bring in a rack full of different options. We tend to not like to put me in things that don't look like natural things I would wear. I feel like that is part of my whole image, that I am a regular down-to-earth girl."
You used to sew and loved making clothes when you were younger, what are some of your favorite shopping secrets or tricks when your out looking for items at home, in Los Angeles?
"I shop online, all the time. I'm a crazy online shopper. But I'm really into Etsy, I like eBay, but I really like Etsy because I feel like its more searchable and easier to navigate. They have a lot more of the stuff that I am looking for. I recently just got really obsessed with buying huge oversized vintage t-shirts and just wearing them as a dress. And people are kinda like, 'oh she's not wearing any pants.'"
You're just being Miley?
"I know! And then a bunch of people are like, 'Miley's copying you.' And I thought, well I might kind of be copying Miley?"
Any talks of doing a follow up line to your 2012 collaboration with Urban Outfitters?
"I don't have any plans, but I would totally be down. That was really really fun for me. I like doing things outside of music just because I feel like it's nice to have different things going on. So I would totally be down to something like that again. For my Urban Renewal collection, I went to a rag house in L.A. and picked my favorite vintage pieces. Then went home and I literally sat on my floor and cut them up, re-worked them and thought, ok how can I make this trench coat into a dress? It was really cool because I have always been into vintage and thrift store shopping."
I was Googling photos of you and you seem to have one particular furry, ginger accessory that you like to wear?
"My friend made an Instagram and twitter account for my cat, Snacks. My friend who house-sits and watches him for me when I'm out of town. So he kind of started this whole thing with my cat. People always think it's me. Because Snacks will Tweet something at me, but its really my friend, so I'll write back. People are like, 'oh my gosh, she's so crazy she's tweeting at her cat. What a crazy cat lady, tweeting at herself via her cat's Instagram.'"
One last question, will there ever be a Pocahaunted reunion (Bethany's band, previous to Best Coast)?
"Haha. No. That was like something I did then. And I feel really comfortable and happy with what I'm doing now. So yea, that probably won't happen."
Los Angeles (your hometown) is a mecca for new music. Does Best Coast have any favorite new bands from L.A. that you guys listen to?
"We actually just took this band on tour with us, a couple months ago, they're called Bleached. They're some good friends of ours, we've known them for a really long time. It's three girls and a guy drummer. Two are sisters, who write and record all the music. They're good friends and are making awesome, girl rock n' roll music—its really cool.
To end on a musical note, what kind of sounds influenced the music on your new EP, Fade Away?
"I was listening to a lot of Mazzy Star, My Bloodie Valentine and Blondie, which are three very different bands. There is one song on the EP that is very obviously Mazzy Star influenced and then there is one that has got some weird guitar noisey things, which was kind of the My Bloody Valentine influence. Then there are a couple straight forward, more poppy, girl songs. Which is where Blondie came in. --by Sara Iravani