NYMN Interview – Claire Evans of YACHT

Claire & Jona (photo credit: Alin Dragulin)

When I studied for the S.A.T.’s, I must have gone over thousands of analogies. Reliving those vile moments is something I hoped never to do, but here we are.

YACHT : Band : : Yacht : Boat

In 2002, Jona Bechtolt created YACHT, thereby “providing the metaphysical and corporate management structures which have given YACHT years of sustained growth, conceptual force, and stable leadership.” Claire Evans, who NYMN recently interviewed, joined YACHT as a permanent member in 2008. YACHT is…well, let’s have her explain.

NYMN: “We have a band, a business, and a belief system called YACHT.” For the uninitiated, can you succinctly tell us what that means in its current (as of today) incarnation?

Claire: YACHT is the name we give to all the projects we do together. Usually that’s recording and performing music, but as we emphasize in our axiom of “band, business, and belief system,” there are both materialistic and metaphysical dimensions to our work. It’s full-spectrum.

NYMN: A law is passed that all businesses need a celebrity endorser. Now YACHT must find one. Who becomes the celebrity face of YACHT?

Claire: Lil’ Bub.

NYMN: You guys are a business, so may I offer a few product suggestions? Tell me if you want to go 50/50 on any of these:
YACHT Blots – These are new Rorschach tests based on the YACHT ideology
YACHT Squats – Line of workout videos, only available on VHS
YACHT Swat – Bug swatters

Claire: You’ve got something there, kid! Actually, we used to extensively discuss the idea of franchising YACHT. By providing instructional DVDs (or VHS cassettes, if you prefer) that demonstrate step-by-step the guidelines of what qualifies as a YACHT performance, we’d allow anyone to be YACHT, thus expanding our reach globally. After a time, however, we realized that simply allowing people the ontological experience was enough: when the individual feels empowered to say (and believe) “I am YACHT,” then we’ve already performed a kind of ideological franchising.

NYMN: If you were called into a courtroom and asked to swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, would you bring the YACHT Bible?

Claire: That would lend the YACHT “Bible” (i.e. The Secret Teachings of the Mystery Lights) a kind of dogmatic gravitas it was never designed to bear. We’d rather just take a lie-detector test.

NYMN: You get asked a myriad of questions ranging from spirituality to paranormal activity to the secrets of the universe. My super duper deep question is this: Considering how it is pronounced in English, do you like they way the word “yacht” is spelled?

Claire: It’s unfortunate. Band names have a tendency to, through the phenomenon of semantic satiation, lose all relationship to their original meaning. For us YACHT is a practical unit of language that can only mean one thing, only sound one way. We always forget that for most people YACHT is a term that refers to a certain class of luxury seafaring vessel, that it has a weird itinerant “H,” that Europeans and South Americans have their own ideas about pronunciation, and that “YACHT rock” is just one errant Google away.

NYMN: You are a self-confessed sci-fi nerd. Do you want to plug your sci-fi blog and maybe tell the general public one or two sci-fi books, shows, or movies we need to check out immediately?

Claire: Science fiction is a profound critical tool for examining the future, which is always getting closer. In 2012, being into science fiction isn’t something that should be cute or niche: it’s literally our world. The prophecies of the older generation of writers have already blossomed into a version of our present reality, the myths are unfolding just as new ones are being imagined, and we live in a climate of digital simultaneity that is ever-iterative, persistently literary. I like Philip K. Dick, J.G. Ballard, New Wave and Cyberpunk, but the real science fiction novel is the daily newspaper.

NYMN: You both grew up in Portland so I have to ask the obvious question about Portlandia. Do you watch the show and if so, what are your thoughts?

Claire: Great show. It takes courage to send up the most defensive city in North America, and it takes genius to do it in a way that leaves its residents feeling understood and loved. That said, nothing on Portlandia is an exaggeration.

NYMN: Do you prefer playing to crowds/without a net or creating albums in a studio/controlled environment?

Claire: Unequivocally, we prefer playing to crowds. YACHT is meaningless without its audience. It’s completely about the pure moment of connection with a group of people, and providing an environment for people to enact their own ecstatic experiences. We use the anarchist term “Temporary Autonomous Zone,” basically a temporary space that eludes formal structures of control. We want people to feel like every show is a sovereign nation and they, in the audience, are responsible for all its laws.

NYMN: You are based out of LA and your coming to NYC for a show at the Beekman Beergarden on August 30th. Hacky comedians have made careers on going over the differences between New York and LA. Embrace your inner standup and let us know what a show in NYC means to you since you live in LA.

Claire: No bits. New York and Los Angeles are very different cities, with very different attitudes, but I think we’re past the point of playing favorites. We live in times where any ideological or cultural isolation between educated, creative, and open-minded people is legitimately damaging. We all need to stick together.

NYMN: Any new projects (YACHT-related or not) that we should keep an eye out for?

Claire: Nothing we can openly reveal yet, but rest assured YACHT will always mutate.

YACHT performs tonight at the Beekman Beergarden. Follow YACHT on Twitter @yacht

ICYMI – August 30, 2012

ICYMI – Recap Of Yesterday’s Headlines:

FREEBIES:

KOAN Sound’s “Sly Fox”

ALL EARS:

Diamond Terrifier “Kill the Self That Wants to Kill Yourself”

Stream Jacob Korn’s You & Me

NPR gives you the first listen of The Avett Brothers The Carpenter

VIDS FOR THE KIDS:

Allah-Las video for “Busman’s Holiday”

Highasakite video for “Indian Summer”

Mellowhype video for “La Bonita”

Arcade Fire and The Strokes hoop it up

Owl City on Conan

COME ON DOWN:

Rolling Stones coming to Brooklyn

READING IS FUN-DAMENTAL:

Ted Leo watches the RNC and tweets

TONIGHT’S ITINERARY:

YACHT at Beekmans Beergarden

NYMN Interview – Mike Sempert of Birds and Batteries

Birds and Batteries (photo credit: Matthew Washburn)

Following the release of their fourth full length album and in the midst of a U.S. tour, NYMN was able to grab a moment of time from the busy Mike Sempert, the musical and spiritual guru of Birds and Batteries. The band will be playing two shows in NYC, so we decided to check in with Birds and Batteries and ask some questions about their new album, their tour, and their ability to swim in shark-infested waters.

NYMN: I first became aware of your band when I heard “Ocarina” on a Paste Magazine Sampler CD nearly five years ago. Now you’re sitting pretty with your fourth full length album Stray Light released earlier this month. When you complete an album do you start to think more about what you’ve accomplished or does your mind start racing with what’s in store for your future?

MS: When I finished Stray Light I was definitely enjoying that sense of completing an album. That seems like a long time ago though.There was a lot of time and a ton of work that went into self-releasing Stray Light. So at this point, I’m definitely thinking about the next thing.

NYMN: You play instruments, use machines in place of instruments, and add samples to your music. You also whistle. People freaked out when Dylan went electric. Now people complain musicians can only play music using a computer. You’ve obviously embraced differing forms of expression and media. How do you determine what sound and what vessel to use when recording?

MS: I’m a big fan of immediacy. So I try to go for the most direct path towards fulfilling an idea, though it’s easier said then done. Certain things, like live drums and real strings are worth planning for, booking studio time around, etc. Also, in truth, the budget for an album influences how far I can go with recording in a studio and how much the home studio set-up is used, i.e., electronic sounds.

NYMN: Stray Light came out roughly a month ago and you’ve been touring rather extensively during that time. How has it been taking songs from the album on the road?

MS: We’ve been playing these songs live for a while and they’re really fun to do. A lot of the album was recorded and written around the idea of what would be exciting to do live. The song “Evolutionary Step” was the only song that we played live for a while before tracking it. The rest were adapted from recording to live, but when they were recorded, the question of “Is this gonna be sweet live?” definitely influenced their creation.

NYMN: “Be My Girl” is a song title you might see on any random radio pop album. But when you first listen to the song it is dark and heavy with your whistling adding an eerie loneliness. How can a love song sound this scary and yet be effective?

MS: Hah. Yeah, its not the most eye-catching song title, but it’s straight up which was the whole point. I don’t really see the song as scary, but I understand there’s a darkness to it. In many ways, within my own personal narrative, this song is about love overcoming rough waters. So, it makes sense that those rough waters come through.

(Editor’s note: A music video for “Be My Girl” was released yesterday – video contains NSFW images)

NYMN: The album appears to be be preaching self-acceptance and self-realization in many of it’s songs. Was this a conscious choice? Was there a spiritual breakthrough prior to or during the creation of this album?

MS: Well, I’m not preaching anything. And there haven’t been any spiritual breakthroughs, just moments of clarity amidst a lot of other feelings. My goal with this album was to focus on that clarity and hopefully give the listener something bright and positive. It’s tempting and easy to write music that comes from the opposite place. I decided to filter out the darker songs and put them on a digital EP called Unfold. So in a way, the totality of the story is in both the EP and LP combined. But for the sake of a continuous listening experience, and sort of as an experiment, I split off the songs by their emotional vibe. Still, life and love are complex and there’s plenty of darkness on Stray Light and light in Unfold.

NYMN: You are coming to Brooklyn on September 2nd to play at Union Pool. What do you like to do when you come to NYC for shows?

MS: Real Brooklyn pizza. That’s what we like to do. Like to do that pizza.

NYMN: You’re a Bay Area guy so here are some rapid fire questions about NorCal:
Earthquakes are (fill in the blank): not a joke
I (blank) the weather in San Francisco: I actually live in Oakland. The weather is great.
Sonoma or Napa? Neither
If you paid me (blank), I would attempt to swim from Alcatraz to Fisherman’s WharfI’d do that for a thow-wow. Probably less actually, but I thought I’d high-ball it. I just looked it up, its less than a mile swim, which is doable.
So I Married An Axe Murder is my favorite movie to take place in SF. How wrong am I for making that statement? Haha. That’s a good one actually. Vertigo was shot in SF and rules pretty hard, as a movie. Apples and oranges though.

Birds and Batteries are playing on August 31st in Manhattan at Pianos and September 2nd in Brooklyn at Union Pool.

ICYMI – August 29th, 2012

ICYMI – Recap Of Yesterday’s Headlines:

FREEBIES:

Isolation from NYC singer, producer, songwriter I/O

Free Big Boi App

Hurray For The Riff Raff from August 26th show at Mercury Lounge

ALL EARS:

“Salt Days” from WIN WIN (XXXChange, Devlin and Ghostdad)

Stream Steam Days by Nathan Fake

VIDS FOR THE KIDS:

Bob Dylan’s video premiere for “Duquesne Whistle”

Mr. MFN eXquire “Position Of Passion” NSFW

Porn and Chicken coming to BASSMENT on September 8th

COME ON DOWN:

Icky Blossoms announce tour and release single – December 7th, Terminal 5

RNDM – featuring Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament announces tour – November 2nd, Music Hall of Williamsburg

READING IS FUN-DAMENTAL:

Weezy ain’t got no love for NYC?

The Electric Zoo 2012 Survival Guide

10 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Get From Pledge Music

TONIGHT’S ITINERARY

NYMN Interview – Jamie Stewart of Xiu Xiu

Jaime & friends (photo credit: Jeremy Lange)

Xiu Xiu is known for testing the boundaries of sound, emotions, and beliefs of both their listeners and band leader Jamie Stewart. Xiu Xiu’s music is unapologetic and unpasteurized, led by Stewart’s lifelong battle with his demons and desires. We asked for a candid interview and Jamie held nothing back – his life a gut-wrenching open book that you can’t stop reading.

NYMN: I want to talk about your new album and upcoming show in NYC, but I was fascinated by what I saw on your website. Eight days ago you wrote the following:

hi

i cannot think of a time when i have been so depressed, less hopeful or more anxious. it is taking on non hilarious and ridiculous proportions.

if you would be so kind, would you please send some specific or practical reasons that would apply to any and/or all fellow, non fascist earthlings to keep living to

xiuxiuforlife@gmail.com under the subject heading REASONS?

in the form of a list, all replies will be posted here (if there are any, SNAP!).

thank you and as per usual, please forgive the BLAH BLAH BLAH.

NYMN: Sure enough yesterday you posted the responses. I sat there reading them with misty eyes and a half-smile. Sometimes I paused and then re-read a line to let it sink in. Other times I laughed out loud. How are you feeling today after your fans seemed to throw you an online life vest?

JS: deeply deeply touched and a little embarrassed at myself. not to be melodramatic but it is obviously too late for that, i really expected either no one to write or 2 or 3 people. the number and depth or response made it clear to me that i needed to take a deep breath and accept some warmth from how generous and wonderful humanity can be. and above to be grateful for kindness. depression this year has taken on new lows into new levels of the bleak dungeon. everything everyone wrote is very much a lantern and map to another place. amazing people.

NYMN: Reaching out to the internet and people with the security of anonymity seems like a mine field. Were you afraid you might get blown to smithereens?

JS: well, i already was right? it was a slightly cloying and certainly desperate thing to do but, again i feel compelled to say sorry over and over again, but it was honest. i woke up early in the morning for what has been weeks of a gripped chest and body by this thick gray leaden nothingness and had no idea what to do anymore. people interested in xiu xiu have gone way out of their way over the years that the band has existed to be supportive. it may have left me looking a little foolish but in the end, people who, whether or not they know, have been giving my life meaning for the last 10 years, unconsciously but rather obviously seemed like the right people to turn to for wisdom. thank you again from the bottom of my heart.

NYMN: Your music and lyrics are what I image it would be like to hear your thoughts and feel your anxiety all at once in concentrated doses. You wrote an article for the Huffington Post in March where you basically scooped your guts and heart out and plopped them onto the website. Have you ever thought about being less candid? Would it seem almost disingenuous to you to not share everything?

JS: it is a little late for that.

NYMN: Your video for “Born To Suffer” with its timely title came out today. Your music is so highly conceptual, I wonder how you could create a video to match it. How did this video come about and what were you trying to accomplish artistically?

JS: actually i had nothing to do with the video. it was made my adriana alba. i like her work and she wrote and we talked about her doing one on her own terms and in her own way. it is a great pleasure to collaborate in a blind way. to request that someone whose creativity is already proven to take a song by the hand and lead it down a different path than i would ever consider. most of the videos we have done are completed like this. it is a bit of risk but they are always different than what i would do and 9 times out 10 they are excellent.

as for the plan for the video artistically, that is the purview of Ms. Alba. another thing i like about this arrangement is that it can lead a video to have a broader scope for interpretation. i know what it means to me and she knows what it means to her and hopefully if someone watches it, they can sort out what it means for them.

NYMN: A big tour is starting in one week. What do you do to prepare for life on the road? What do you enjoy most about touring?

JS: i stop drinking, which is the worst! the time in my life when i am under the most stress and need or want it the most i have to lay it aside. it fucks up my voice and obviously being on tour is exhausting enough without being hung over. then rehearsal like a maniac, do laundry, buy new shoes, i have been wearing the same clothes on stage for 6 years so shoes are all i’ve got. the reason is that i sweat like an evil hog so much when i play that anything other than a black t- shirt will either melt or look disgusting.

what i enjoy most is playing, seeing my niece and nephews who live far away from me and going for a hike in the desert, also far away from me.

NYMN: Are you excited about your show in NYC? Nervous? Anxious? Horny? Gleeful?

JS: i wish i felt horny and gleeful all the time. nervous of course! playing NYC means a lot to me and i want to play better than i think i can for anyone sweet enough to show up.

NYMN: What is next for Jamie?

JS: let me ask him, hey. self, what is next for you? tours of usa of mostly dates with swans, then to australia and new zealand and europe, moving to los angeles, finishing a 2nd book of haikus, putting out a collab record with eugene robinson of oxbow called SAL MINEO and touring that, leaving pop exploration on the back of a potato truck and working on a new xiu xiu record. then hopefully saving some money to look at trees on the island of socotra before a nuclear war.

Xiu Xiu plays August 30th at the Bowery Ballroom

ICYMI – August 28, 2012

ICYMI – Recap Of Yesterday’s Headlines:

FREEBIES:

A$AP Mob (Featuring Danny Brown, Raekwon, AraabMuzik, etc) releases mix tape

“Heartbeat” by Kopecky Family Band

Live EP from Zammuto

ALL EARS:

Hear new songs from Hüsker Dü’s Grant Hart

“Toil” by Unnatural Helpers

VIDS FOR THE KIDS:

 “So Easy” by Amaze 88

“Attitude” by Cult Days

“Pink Riff” by Bleeding Rainbow

“End of the Line” music video from Sleigh Bells

Sneak peaks of Radiohead and Bon Iver on Austin City Limits

“Glyphs” by Sic Alps – Sunday, Oct. 28 – Brooklyn, NY @ Knitting Factory

“They Know Your Name” by Mouse on Mars – Monday, Oct. 22 – New York, NY @ Santos Party House

COME ON DOWN:

Compete for a spot to perform at the next Insomniac Festival

READING IS FUN-DAMENTAL:

Was there an MF Doom imposter at a recent show?

Slash’s Mom and…David Bowie?

Tanlines interview

TONIGHT’S ITINERARY