Vocalist Bethany Cosentino, known for her fuzzy ’90s tenor, is one-half of the California indie outfit Best Coast. Cosentino and her musical match, Bobb Bruno, first met when she was 18 years old before quietly developing into the Rock ‘N’ Roll goddess she’s proudly become today.
Best Coast’s third studio album California Nights dropped this past May, supplying listeners with plenty of surf rock sparkle. According to Cosentino, the LP is easily the most “her” of the band’s complete discography—a happy marriage of shoe gaze and Sheryl Crow.
We recently caught up with Cosentino before Best Coast headlined a set alongside Built to Spill, Alvvays, and Bully at Northside Festival’s 50 Kent; she spoke of her existential woes, learning to be her biggest fan and having a soft spot for astrology.
Best Coast has been in the spotlight for about five years now. What’s it been like to evolve as a female in the spotlight?
“In the beginning of my career it was very stressful because I was 23. I was at that peak age of awkward and trying to figure out who I was. When people started criticizing my looks and style, I took it really personally. Over the last couple of years I tried to stop paying attention to it all and actually just deal with it. I realized people were going to criticize me regardless of what I do, even if I wasn’t a musician. Also, within the last two years I started taking better care of myself [and] eating healthier; I don’t drink as much anymore; I exercise constantly. When people criticize you it also makes you reevaluate ‘what’s my deal and what do I stand for?’ I spent the last two years figuring that out and I feel like I’m finally in a place now where I feel pretty good.”
I read that you’re into astrology—what’s your sign and what’s your connection with the cosmos?
“I’m a Scorpio. My mom is a Scorpio, my ex-boyfriend is Scorpio and so is one of my best friends. Anytime I meet anybody—not even just a guy, but anyone—I ask them what their sign is. Then when they tell me, if it’s a sign I know I’m not necessarily compatible with, or if I’ve had a bad experience with, then I’ll back off. If there is ever a person who tells me they don’t know their sign or blow off my question, I think to myself, ‘never mind this relationship isn’t going anywhere.’ I’m obsessed with astrology and totally believe in it. I also totally don’t understand how people couldn’t believe in it.”
A lot of your albums talk about relationships and all that comes with it: fixations, jealousy and infidelity. What’s your current take on relationships?
“Right now I’m definitely more about working on myself. I don’t disbelieve in love or relationships. I think that being in an amazing relationship can be the best thing ever, but I’m more realistic now. Relationships are never perfect—even if you meet your soul mate—you’re still going to have ups and downs. And it’s not just romantic relationships, also relationships with your parents and friends. It’s always up and down. I have an insane year of touring ahead of me, so I don’t even have time for a relationship. But I’m also a firm believer that what’s meant to happen will happen.”
You said in regards to the creation of your new album California Nights, “It’s about dealing with life as an adult, and at the end of the day, reminding yourself that there really is no reason to be sad and you have every right to feel okay.” Do you feel sometimes you have to give yourself permission to be happy?
“You just reach this point where you ask yourself, ‘Am I just causing all this weird anxiety and drama on my own?’ Obviously there are outside factors, but I think you also get to a point where everything that’s bothering you doesn’t really need to be bothering you. Like, I’m actually okay. And it’s okay to be okay. There are some days I wake up and feel amazing, and then two hours later I’m like, ‘Ugh, I can’t take it,’ but I try and just embrace the ‘I feel great’ moments and make them last as long as they can. I also know that we all have highs and lows and that’s just life in general. People who don’t get that or can’t relate to that sentiment must be lying to themselves. Now, at 28 years old, I’m trying to be less of my own worst enemy and more of my own support system.”
What’s your relationship with Bobb Bruno like?
“Bobb and I really understand and respect each other so much. We have a ton in common; we love the same TV shows and the same movies, a lot of the same food. He’s known me since I was 18, so he’s been around for all of my awkward haircuts and stuff, but he’s also really just someone that I trust. He’s a lot older than me, but he just gets it. When I write songs, he’ll listen to the lyrics and he’ll be like, ‘Man, I also understand this.’ I feel truly blessed to be working with someone like him—it’s just easy. I’ve been in bands before and worked with people that are just nightmares, so I know from experience. I don’t think Bobb or I have big egos; we check it at the door. We never go into a studio or a show setting with a hot head. We’re both sort of like, ‘Are we even really good at what we’re doing?’
I also read you have insomnia? What do you do to sleep?
“I used to take Ambien for years and then I realized it was probably not the best thing for me. So, I stopped taking Ambien and I take melatonin now, which I know also isn’t the best for you, but it works for me and at least it’s not a pharmaceutical. I smoke weed sometimes to help me sleep because it really does help. One hit and goodnight. Sometimes when I’m trying to sleep is when I get most inspired to write my songs. Most of my music comes from all the shit I think about when I can’t sleep. It’s still really hard for me, but I’ve learned more methods to help. I have an aromatherapy diffuser at my house, but I also bought one to bring on tour that is a USB and plugs in to my computer. I’ll diffuse some lavender and peppermint and spray my bunk with rose water. I just feel like if I can make things as serene as possible, why not?”