Portland-based electropoppers YACHT are more than a band. They’re a “The band, the business and the belief,” something that spans further than the pure creation of the music. They retain control over everything, their projects are 100% them and their live shows are truly a sweaty samba sparked entertainment show, with band members becoming one with the crowd (at one point, vocalist Claire L. Evans took it upon her to leap into the crowd and dance, but not before entwining herself in the microphone lead like it had come to life and trapped her in the sound). We chat to Claire and Jona before their show in Hong Kong as part of their Asia tour.
Hot Shit: How has your tour been so far?
Jona: Australia was a total trip. We got to go to a bunch of rural cities that we’d never heard of or been to before. It was a really fun time.
HS: Can you remember any names?
Jona: Oh yeah! All of them! We went to Maitland, Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne, Auburn, Bendigo…
Jona: Townsville! Magnetic Island—we didn’t play there, we just went there—um, then Perth, Adelaide and…
Claire: Bunbury! We went to Bunbury!
Jona: Yeah, that’s it.
Claire: It was an extremely thorough Australian tour.
Claire: And now we’re here and we’re obviously in the greatest city in the world.
Jona: Word. Before we went here though, we also went to Bangkok and played our first ever show in Thailand and it was truly awesome, it was really great yeah.
HS: Yeah, I’ve noticed that there’s been an emergence of a lot of international bands playing in Thailand. How was that for you? Like, how was that as a show?
Jona: Right, yeah… we had no expectations at all and it was truly great. The crowd was beautiful and awesome and full of energy. We were told numerous times that Thai audiences were respectful and a little bit quiet but they ended up, like, going totally nuts and dancing all over the place… it was a sweaty fun time.
Claire: Yeah the thing with us is, like, touring is the only way we get to see the world, so if we have an opportunity to play somewhere that’s interesting, we will always go because even if the show is a disaster, which it rarely, uh, never is…
Claire: Yeah, knock on wood! It’s still a delight to not only go new places but to be immediately taken by someone who’s knowledgeable about independent culture to interesting cultural niches all around the world.
HS: So essentially you get the best of both worlds.
Claire: Yeah, exactly!
HS: So let’s get into the nitty-gritty; you’ve stated before that YACHT is something ruled by three main components.
HS: So “The Band, The Business and The Belief,” what really awaked you to this way of thinking, as a band?
(they take a few moments to decide who should answer)
Claire: Um, well Jona and I both grew up in the Pacific Northwest, which is historically—at least in terms of subculture—ruled by a kind of DIY ethos, so we’ve always had this idea that, like, ideas and ideology and personal belief systems, whatever they may be, are inseparable from art. We both grew up believing in the punk ethos as really like a way of being, and like a way of living that extended beyond a style of music or a way of dressing or whatever. So that’s already been something that we’ve always lived with.
Claire: Inherently, yeah.
Jona: And I guess maybe as we’ve—as our audience has grown and become wider and larger it made sense and felt right to put that out front, because usually it’s just something that you just live with and have but don’t necessarily speak on and YACHT, the way that we do it, is… it’s not really just music, it’s anything we do together we call it YACHT, just out of convenience and to keep it open for ourselves so we don’t get bored. That includes music but also includes making texts, or doing design or doing video or anything so there’s an open-endedness that includes not just like different modes of production but also modes of thinking and for us. The way that we make work is we’re kind of inseparable in the way that we think about making our work and we’ve always been interested in full transparency so we put all of that outwards. Whether or not people, you know, necessarily consume all of it at once and enjoy it is kind of immaterial, it’s mostly about allowing people many different ways into the experience of our band, the ideological part of it being just one aspect it.
HS: In saying that, do you see your creative projects as vessels for these ideologies or do you project them into a final finished project?
Claire: It’s… that’s a really difficult distinction to make I think. I think, for us, the act of making something out of nothing is inherently a metaphysical act ‘cause by doing that you’re posing the question “can something emerge from nothing and what is the nature of creativity” and that becomes really, if you’re of a certain mind set, difficult to separate from spiritual questions about the nature of life and existence so uh—so yeah, making art of any kind is going to be ideological for us but also, those projects that we end up making, I guess that come from that point of view tend to have ideological components to them, but it’s very difficult to draw lines, I think between…
HS: So essentially, it’s a matter of come what may.
Claire: Yeah, come what may. I think I subscribed to the school of art-making that is like we-make-stuff-because-if-we-didn’t-we-would-die-of-boredom-and-anxiety and so what… is that spiritual, is that ideological or is that just like a weird, personal tick? It’s impossible to tell.
Jona: Is it OCD?
Claire: Is it OCD? It kind of depends of the audience, really.
HS: Depends what perspective as well, and their take on it.
HS: As you said before, you were very DIY and you take a rather self-directed approach to your creations. Do you reckon this gives you, as a band, more creative breathing space or is easier to get distracted.
Jona: Hmm, I don’t know, we impose a lot of limits to ourselves but…
HS: Well, it seems better than like, a label imposing limits on you.
Jona: Right, yeah we’ve never worked with any limits outside of ourselves, no one’s ever told us what to do.
Claire: I mean there’s the obvious limitations of financial feasibility and scale, if we had endless resources I promise you we’d be the first band on the moon, but we work within the constraints we have and those are always changing, which is nice… in all sorts of different directions. We can’t allow other people to put a hand on our work, it’s not something that is a choice that we’ve made, it’s just… I can’t imagine putting something out into the world that has our name on it that we didn’t make ourselves. For us, the whole thing is like this encompassing aesthetic cultural experience, so having anyone else involved would just be like, it would be counterintuitive.
HS: It would be wrong.
Claire: It just wouldn’t be it! It would be something else…
Claire: It wouldn’t be it. It would be something, but it wouldn’t be it for us.
HS: You’d have to get another name for it…
Claire: We’d have to call it something else.
HS: So I understand you’re working on a television show, by the name of Support—it’s a comedy—so what can we expect from it, aside from comedy?
Claire: You’ll laugh, you’ll cry.
Jona: Hopefully, we want to shed light on an area of music that hasn’t ever been seen before, ‘cause a lot of shows or movies only ever talk about the “Rock ‘n’ Roll” culture, about partying, giant tour buses, groupies and stuff like that… and that’s not at all what it’s like in our experience. We want to show a unique, weirder independent culture aside to music.
HS: The other side of it.
Claire: The unglamorous side, you know the part where you’re lugging your own gear and everything you can imagine… all the harsh tragic, hilarious, absurd, funny realities of somehow mustering yourself onto a stage every night.
HS: That was great, thanks guys.
Jona & Claire: No problem, awesome.
This interview was conducted by and published with the consent of collaborator Kait Shirley, a Hong Kong-based Australian cloudcuckoolander who collects of psychedelic shirts and limited edition indie-dance vinyls.