YACHT, a Los Angeles-based band, makes moving music, presentations, videos, texts, and appearances for beings and their screens. Founded in 2002, YACHT is comprised of members Jona Bechtolt and Claire L. Evans.
How did your interest in music begin? Claire: I came to music accidentally. I had some friends in a noise band in college, and they needed a keyboard player. I had a keyboard, a Casio SK1 I bought at Goodwill. I had zero musical education, but I liked messing around with the keyboard and, you know, it was a noise band. We just made it up as we went along, learning on the equipment we had. In retrospect I can’t imagine I would have been able to come to musicmaking in any other way—there was a lot of freedom in not knowing what the rules were. Jona: I dropped out of high school to play drums in a punk band with my brother.
How has living in Los Angeles affected your music? We identify strongly as an LA band. We’re not native to California, but what makes Los Angeles interesting is that it’s a city full of transplants, immigrants, and people on the move; it’s a city with a shifting identity. Especially right now, as people here are being forced to reevaluate the things they’ve long taken for granted as essentially Californian—suburban lawns, swimming pools, freeway driving. We’re fascinated by change, transformation, and the disconnect between myths and realities.
Can you share one of the best or worst reactions you have gotten as a result of your music? True story: after a show in Toronto a few years ago, a fan told us our music was so powerful she “felt sick and needed to lie down.” Those words exactly.
What kinds of things are influencing your music right now? Musically: 80s Japanese electronic reggae, 70s and 80s postpunk and no wave, Norwegian disco, and Grand Royal Recordsera alternative music. Conceptually: Marshall McLuhan, Californian identity, science fiction, product design and marketing, the idea of the “the feed” in relation to artmaking.
Where do you plan to travel next? Our opportunities for travel are almost entirely limited to touring, which we’ll be doing extensively in the coming year, across the US and Europe. It’s a very strange way of seeing the world—everything unfamiliar is anchored by something really familiar, which is playing music. A show is a show is a show, almost everywhere. That being said, we are going to Japan for two weeks this winter.
Favorite dessert? Claire: An affogato espresso. Jona: Vegan froyo.
Most embarrassing moment on stage? Being on stage is fundamentally embarrassing. Negotiating with that embarrassment in order to make something dynamic and honest out of it is what makes live performance really interesting. We think a solid dose of shame is an amazing catalyst—if you’re not a little bit ashamed of your own work, then how will you be motivated to make something better? Something that’s worthy of people’s attention? That thinking drives everything we do, on a personal level.
What’s your absolute favorite place in the world to be? There are cities we love to visit—New York, Hong Kong, Istanbul, Mexico City, Tokyo. But honestly, when it comes to being somewhere for the long haul, Los Angeles is where we want to be. We’re never disappointed when we come home: it’s always got something new to offer us. And the Vitamin D is important. We both grew up in the Pacific Northwest, and we didn’t fully understand the extent to which we suffered from seasonal affective disorder until we moved South and realized we weren’t sad anymore.
What other musicians are you interested in right now? A lot of what we like is older, but in terms of contemporary music makers, we love: Larry Gus, Hot Chip, Maurice Fulton, Holly Herndon, Bitchin Bajas, Museum of Love, Prinzhorn Dance School, AFX, Todd Terje.
Who would you ideally like to collaborate with? Issey Miyake.
Do you have any guilty pleasures? Vaping in the movie theater.