Need To Know: YACHT
By Courtney Nichols
YACHT may not be from this planet. As described on the band's website, 'YACHT is a Band, Belief System, and Business conducted by Jona Bechtolt and Claire L. Evans of Marfa, Texas and Portland, Oregon, USA. All people are welcome to become members of YACHT. Accordingly, YACHT is and always will be what YACHT is when YACHT is standing before you.' With influences ranging from the Mystery Lights of Marfa, Texas, to dogmatic spiritual practices that transcend into the punk genre, YACHT maintains a rich intelligence that blends beautifully with accessible electronic beats. Not to mention they're a favorite of LCD Soundsystem front man James Murphy and a member of his immediate family, DFA Records, which will release YACHT's new album, Shangri-La on June 21st.
YACHT has adopted the triangle as both a band logo and a spiritual symbol to define the YACHT mission. Simple in design, the triangle ranges from gay connotations to architectural advancements. Both members have the image boldly tattooed on their forearm. This is their cult, and they want us as members. Out caught up with YACHT in the midst of 100-degree heat of the Coachella Festival. Claire, with necklace of shells and rope, and Jona, in an all-black suit, discussed their personal religious convictions (or lack thereof), their definition of pop, and their devotion to living in the here and now.
Out: I am very interested in your writing process. Are all your lyrics original? Do you draw inspiration from literary motifs?
Claire L. Evans: Yes to all of the above. It is obviously mostly original but we like to put in references to things from texts or other songs that we like. We feel they are clear enough that if someone is not aware of the reference they can go on a spiritual and literary discovery through that path. That is definitely a lesser facet of our work. Our work is bits and pieces, Easter eggs if you will.
Jona Bechtolt:: We write everything together.
Claire L. Evans: With each project or record that we are doing, we commit a large part of ourselves and our energy to the project. We spend a lot of time reading books and watching movies and listening to music and learning as much as possible based on that subject. We allow it to filter through our brains and make something our own out of that. Everything is steeped in references but it is all reinterpreted and remixed. There are a lot of literary influences.
YACHT entered the music scene through the visual arts lens. Because of this, do you find that your fan base consists of other artists?
Jona Bechtolt: I don't know. I would like that to be true but I don't know if other artists like us.
Claire L. Evans: We don't want to limit ourselves to only doing music because we have always done a lot of different things. Because we are most known for making music doesn't mean that music is our number 1 priority. Part of the total experience is the definition of YACHT as multimedia. Everything we put our minds to is called YACHT. Music is an amazing way of getting through to people really quickly. I think pop music has a very deep power to draw people in and disseminate messages via cross-platform, cross-cultural, cross-global communications.
What is your definition of pop?
Claire L. Evans: I think we all see the coordination between pop and spiritual mantras.
Jona Bechtolt: Repetition has to be included in the definition for sure.
Claire L. Evans: That quality that pop music has where it can be absorbed into your brain immediately with very little effort and it can be repeated over and over again without you being consciously aware of it. That to us is an almost spiritual concept. People do mantra repetition in spiritual practice. This is the same thing. They even repeat melodic repeats in their heads over and over again to dictate their actions and change their point of view on the world. This is pop: it is repeated messages, motifs and musical melodies. We play with that. We come from the Pacific Northwest and many years of intense DIY scenes. Our ideas of pop are bit more damaged than most people. Pretty much anything is pop as long as you are not doing something un-listenable.
So while many musicians would bristle at being defined as pop, YACHT, on the other hand, believes everything is pop, including yourselves.
Claire L. Evans: There has been a real stigma against pop and I have never really understood it. A lot of the most interesting and subversive artists of our time have been pop musicians. Prince, Michael Jackson, these people were all maniacs! They pushed their own messages strongly across huge amounts of people. They had a lasting impact. It is interesting to play with that. Mainstream might be beneficial.