Interview with YACHT

Published On April 25, 2011 | Concerts, Interviews

YACHT is a lot of things, one of them being a band of sorts. YACHT’s heart is definitely in playing shows: uncluttered, inspiring sessions of damaged dance moves and synchronized crowd-waving, backed by constantly changing elements like PowerPoint presentations, audience Q&A sessions, and shamanistic video environments. It’s impossible to say what a YACHT show will be, but it’s easy to say what it will not be: unlike any other show you have ever attended before. Founding member Jona Bechtolt and newer member Claire Evans are sailing into Philadelphia tomorrow night to bring the YACHT experience to fans at the First Unitarian Church (CLICK HERE for tickets). We’ll be there to cover the show but we had some questions about YACHT that we needed answered. They did that for us in the following interview.

Independent Philly: How did you come up with the band name YACHT?

YACHT: YACHT is an acronym for “Young Americans Challenging High Technology,” which was the name of an after-school program that Jona Bechtolt participated in the early 1990s. YACHT was a short-lived organization that taught young people both to use technology and fear it — this conflicting, binary attitude towards technology has been a long-lasting influence for us.

IP: If you had to change the band name suddenly, say the fate of the planet depended on it (we know we’re stretching), what would you consider as a new moniker?

YACHT: If the fate of the world depended on our band name we’d all be in trouble.

IP: What can fans expect from a live YACHT show?

YACHT: We make a concerted effort to create individual experiences — Temporary Autonomous Zones, if you will — for each YACHT concert. That is to say, never the same show twice. There are common elements, of course: live instrumentation, electronic instrumentation, five people, black and white fabrics, lights, cables, video projections, resonant tones, inaudible tones, cowbells, and the ineffable quality of all those things coming together at once. However, the combinations are different every night, and we approach each YACHT concert as an autonomous, Utopian island over which we only have partial control. The rest is up to the audience.

IP: What influences do you draw upon for YACHT, not just musically but from all aspects of your lives?

YACHT: Our influences are largely non-musical and vary from project to project. For every project that we undertake, we assemble a library of resources relevant to the outcome of the work: books, texts of all kinds, sounds, experiences, films, images, and conversations with select people. By the time we finish something new, we have essentially become authorities on the ideas associated with the project. Our new album, “Shangri-La”, comes from months of reading, writing, and thinking about the idea of Utopia and its practical application in the world. The library we’ve collected for this project includes Francis Bacon, Sir Thomas More, H.G. Wells, Buckminster Fuller; our image bank contains the architectural plans of Le Corbusier and Paolo Soleri, maps of un-built cities, and psychedelic prints. The experiences we’ve collected from attempting to create our own personal Utopias during the recording process have changed us forever.

IP: It’s said (in maritime circles) that having an unnamed boat/ship is bad luck. If you owned a Yacht, what would you name it?

YACHT: We would name it “Utopia,” because it would be a floating island without laws or oppression, sailing freely in international waters, flags ablaze.

IP: What can you tell us about The YACHT Trust?

YACHT: The YACHT Trust is an organization loosely related to YACHT that controls and implements the YACHT philosophy; it’s the ideological branch of YACHT. As artists and touring musicians, we have less and less time to directly monitor how the world at large interprets our ideas — the YACHT Trust keeps tabs, communicates with fans, and disseminates the core tenets of our ideas to interested parties. They also make their own practical interpretations about what our lyrics and texts mean; they keep a blog of sorts at, which includes essays on subjects as varied as music piracy and personal efficiency.

IP: Quick word association… first thing that comes to mind:

IP: Triangle:

IP: Anchor:
The Past

IP: Smiles:

IP: Technology:

IP: Music:

IP: School:
The World

IP: Philadelphia:
A Future Paradise

IP: Art:

IP: “Change is the only true constant in YACHT’s artistic output” …This must mean that no two YACHT shows are ever alike… but if you had to pick one show that really stood out in your mind as your favorite, which one would it be, and why?

YACHT: Honestly, we are really committed to living in the moment. Just as YACHT is what YACHT is when YACHT is standing before you — i.e. if an audience member comes up on stage, they become part of YACHT for the duration of their time with us — the only real YACHT concert is the one that is happening right now. It would be unfair to our future audiences if we held onto past performances in our minds.

IP: Aside from music, what else are you really passionate about?

YACHT: Literature, philosophy, science, and the endless cross-pollination of ideas between different disciplines.

IP: Tell us something that would surprise or even shock our readers….

YACHT: Dear Readers, we’ve found heaven on Earth. It’s inside your head and the dimensions are spatially infinite.

It’s clear that expectations for  a YACHT show are pointless. Attempting to predict the beautiful chaos  of what is sure to ensue tomorrow night would not only be a waste of time but would cheapen the experience. The show starts at 7:30pm with support from Light Asylum & Jeffrey Jerusalem, and as they stated in their interview, there are only so many constants to a YACHT show, the rest is up to the audience. See YACHT. Be YACHT.


As expected, the unexpected happened. Due to cancellations by Light Asylum & Dan Deacon (who was scheduled to play a show across town with Lightning Bolt), The YACHT show was combined with the Lightning Bolt show in the hours leading up to the show on Tuesday. Due to a mix-up with YACHT’s camp, our staff was left off of the media list for the show and we were unable to provide coverage of the concert. Don’t fret… we’ll be covering A-Trak, Rubblebucket, Rusko, Yelle, & the Sweetlife Festival [The Strokes, Lupe Fiasco, Girl Talk, Crystal Castles, Cold War Kids, Yeah-Yeah-Yeah's, and more!] over the next five days!

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