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YACHT is a lot of things. It’s kind of a band, but it’s mostly a genre-and-media-spanning life project founded and led by Jona Bechtolt of the Northwest’s very own Portland, Oregon. Bechtolt (and new member Claire L. Evans) make anthemic power jams, play them backwards and soak them in nearly psychedelic cherry cola. YACHT’s heart is the shows: uncluttered, inspiring sessions of damaged dance moves and synchronized crowd-waving, backed by constantly changing elements – PowerPoint presentations, audience Q&A sessions, and shamanistic video environments.
In 2007, YACHT played more than 200 shows in 17 countries around the world, chasing album releases in North America, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and China, and touring with such luminaries as LCD Soundsystem, Architecture in Helsinki, High Places, and Vampire Weekend. With the new addition of Evans, YACHT hopes to double their stamina and play over 500 shows this year and in more unlikely places: on airplanes, in planetariums, underwater, and on the roofs, and/or bathrooms, of very large buildings.
Bechtolt has been a promiscuous genre-smasher since his adolescence, when he decided that playing drums in the touring punk band he formed with his older brother was more worthwhile than attending a single day of high school. He’s plied his unique breed of beat-heavy laptop wizardry and grunge ethos to endless collaborations, both as producer and drummer, with west coast mainstays like Devendra Banhart, The Blow, Little Wings, and Bobby Birdman. He’s also been recognized by such bigwigs as David Byrne, who name-dropped Bechtolt’s production on The Blow’s Paper Television in his “Artforum” Top-10 list, Paris’ Centre Georges Pompidou, where he was commissioned for a large-scale performance, and Vibe Magazine, who touted Bechtolt as “indie rock’s Timbaland” in their review of YACHT’s I Believe In You, Your Magic Is Real (2007, Marriage Records).
Evans, whose vocals have been featured on previous YACHT recordings, joined the band full-time this year. She’s a science writer, media artist, immigrant, and musician who came of age in the underground noise scene of Los Angeles, playing in difficult bands like the disastrously chaotic Weirdo Begeirdo (Not Not Fun), the shambly Thunder Sundress, and Portland-based The World Court (Tomlab). She has presented her earnestly cosmic PowerPoint performances at MOMA PS1, The Kitchen, and the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, and has collaborated with Bechtolt on literally hundreds of projects since they met in 2004.