[Photo by Sarah Meadows]
Like most ignorant people, we assumed the newly-minted duo incarnation of YACHT would basically be the Blow with a different female singer. What we didn’t expect was an entire ‘YACHT philosophy’ presented alongside drastically-improved songs, three of which–”Summer Song,” “Psychic City (Voodoo City),” and the dancefloor-bound two-part epic “It’s Boring/You Can Live Anyway You Want”–are tailor made for DFA‘s 12″-centric release schedule.
So yeah; the addition of former noise rock musician Claire L. Evans has been a match made in heaven. Somewhat literally. See what we mean in a minute…
So, have you started working on any new singles or music for DFA beyond what just came out?
Jona Bechtol: Yes, we recently invented a new song to serve as the B-side to a 7″ single we’re making with DFA. It’s going to be a picture disc. The A-side of a remix of “Psychic City” by Classixx.
Claire L. Evans: We’re always working.
When’s that coming out?
Jona: Soon–very, very soon.
Claire: And we’re releasing a plethora of companion materials to be collected with the record: Books, singles, and a playable copper album of mantras.
Mantras, eh? Like a spoken word record?
Jona: Well, this is sort of an interesting story…The first version of the album was initially “rejected” by DFA. I put that in quotes because DFA would have gladly released anything we would have given them.
Claire: The mantras we’re releasing on the copper record are essentially what we originally submitted to DFA.
So it’s a full record? And what’s copper album exactly?
Claire: A copper album is a lathe-cut copper disc that can play on a regular record player. It’s eight mantras, each of which is about the length of a “song.” It’s designed to be repeated, replayed, and practiced regularly.
It’s just mantra spoken out loud?
Claire: No, not just spoken. There is some melody to it, but it’s very tonal and spare. It’s literally an album of mantras.
And you really thought they’d put that out when you originally submitted it?
Jona: At the time we didn’t really know what they had in mind. James [Murphy] had just emailed me out of the blue and asked to hear new things we were working on.
Claire: DFA asked us to go back and turn these conceits into pop songs, which is what they liked the most in our work. We appreciated the challenge and built pop frameworks around the mantras, which in the end has been really fruitful. People can now appreciate the music on multiple levels, with the core messages being hidden in plain sight. It’s incredibly subversive. We have an album of pop songs about death, the possibility of life after death…
Is that something you’ve both obsessed over before?
Claire: Who doesn’t? I think we’re both politically atheists, but emotionally agnostic. We know that ultimate reality is unknowable, and are willing to leave it at that. Although I’m always tempted by a myriad New-Age theories and the occult. I have a friend that claims to have experienced death while tripping on ayahuasca with a Peruvian shaman, and I am pretty convinced that he saw the real deal. I personally am very suggestible when it comes to that kind of thing.
Did either of you study anthropology before?
Claire: Well, yes and no. I’ve always been into other cultures and the study of them, but not in a formal way. My best friend and roommate in college was an anthropology major and I definitely enjoyed hearing about the study of other mental worlds from her…I’m into cosmology and origin stories from other cultures. They’re essentially parallel universes.
Heavy stuff, which goes back to the subversive aspect…this is the poppiest YACHT record yet.
Claire: We just want to talk honestly with people about these things, and I don’t see any other way of doing it than being a pop band.