Music journalism is rife with writers quick to say that a band "defies all conventions" or "breaks the mold." It's rarely the case, but sometimes an act comes along that's worthy of the sensational labels. YACHT, a dance-pop duo from Los Angeles via Portland, is the act in question, having existed in a variety of incarnations over the past 12 years while core members Jona Bechtolt and Claire Evans act together or alone, branching out into other avenues. No matter the venture, it's all done under the YACHT moniker, a sprawling umbrella that's a multimedia product all its own.
"It's a like a pool in that it has a shallow end and a deep end," Evans says. "You can go into the shallow end and just be into YACHT as a pop band and enjoy it on a superficial level, but you can just keep on wading and go all the way in if you want to. It just becomes the ocean at a certain point because it's just another person's life, and another person's life is always intimately interesting if you look close enough."
"Interesting" just scratches the surface for Bechtolt and Evans, who are the type of creatives that never seem to stand still given the depth of their work and platform. Whether it's the Amazon-backed development of "Support," a television show based on YACHT's collective experience "about all the dark parts of being a band, specifically being an opening band," according to Bechtolt, or donating song proceeds to the Electronic Frontier foundation in protest against the NSA's surveillance accords, it's always a restless affair for the duo. Outside of that, however, both Evans and Bechtolt find time to pursue their own interests in design and journalism, respectively, then bring their knowledge back into the fold.
"The more skills we gather, the more rich the experience of YACHT can be," Evans says. "It's not just a band, but we also produce text and images and videos and we make meaningful online and offline experiences. It's just an endless project toward making better and better work, and that involves learning a lot of things along the way."
Part of Evans' work lies within the reboot of '80s science publication Omni as editor at large, an extension of her career as a science journalist with a focus on extraterrestrial life forms. This extends to Omni's involvement in this year's Moogfest, taking place in Asheville, North Carolina, a music, science, and art festival that explores the intersection of the three disciplines. Of the two former aspects, Evans is most interested in the concept of communicating with aliens through music.
"Maybe alien life won't understand music or sound as having meaning," she says. "As a thought experiment, it's basically impossible. If we send a message out into space and it's discovered tens of thousands of years from now by an extraterrestrial, will we still be around? How do you create something that's timeless? How do you future-proof music? These are questions that are really fascinating, and I don't know that there's a clear answer to them."
Such conversation topics aren't part and parcel for most bands, of course, much less most people. Yet YACHT's winning formula to might be the lack of such a thing as the band operates under a fluid identity, an amorphous multimedia experiment with a musical veneer. Not adhering to tradition offers a completely different sense of freedom for Bechtolt.
"A lot of people have to divvy up their interests and there's a lot of bands who have side projects, even though it's a single person, and they'll make something that sounds slightly different than the other thing they make," he says. "They feel like they have to compartmentalize and change it, give it a whole other brand and name, but we're not afraid to sort of put it all out as one thing."
Bigger than the sum of its parts, YACHT's next move will likely be an unexpected one. No matter how much they expand out or evolve, the interplay between Bechtolt and Evans is the foundation of it all -- she boils down their symbiosis to a simple outlook that belies the complexity of their band.
"We're just broken in a pretty specific way," Evans laughs. "We happen to be broken in the same way, which is fortunate."
YACHT is scheduled to perform Friday, March 7, at Crescent Ballroom during Viva PHX. Tickets are $20.
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