Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit
A conversation with Youth Lagoon

A conversation with Youth Lagoon

14 June 2013, 16:27

If that didn’t grab you, then what can I say to make you read on?

Would it help if I told you that Youth Lagoon, Trevor Powers, is a prodigiously talented young musician from Boise, Idaho? That he is already the creator of two rather stunning albums released by Mississippi’s Fat Possum label? Try listening again:

If you’re still reading despite being unconvinced by the music, then now either I, or this site, ought to somehow alleviate the creeping sensation that one of those mail notification bubbles that’s popping into your frame of vision is so much more important than persisting with this piece or Powers’ marvellous music.

There is too much Internet, too much of all things vying for your focus to expect anyone to commit to reading more than the first few lines of anything unless you already like the artist, or just liked what you first heard above. If either of the latter is the case then you have probably already skipped to Power’s words below. If the music didn’t initially arouse some feeling in you, then to be honest I am confounded that you haven’t buggered off already. You might have been more readily convinced to stay if the words, “listen to this, it is stunning,” were imparted by a person or on paper. Somewhere that wasn’t carpeted with the cheap thrills of Tweetdeck or Facebook’s endless scrolling “news”, but there is much less actual listening to real people that happens these days as Powers himself said during our email exchange as relayed below. I hope you’ve stuck around to read it.

Where are you sitting writing these responses?

I’m at the top floor of a hotel in Brooklyn. It’s a very caliginous feeling room. The blinds don’t seem to want to open and it’s black outside. I like this though.

Do you have a document with hundreds of these answers by now?

Definitely not. Ha! I should put together a master spreadsheet shouldn’t I?? Be the king of memorization and copy/paste, and make myself feel completely worthless.

Do you find that doing interviews helps you work out what you were actually making when you were making the record? Another musician said it was sort of like free therapy sometimes.

Interviews usually aren’t therapy for me, although at times I can see that happening. Often they’re really something I can’t wrap my head around. I absolutely love conversations. That connection between two people, but in order to have that genuine human bond, an element of trust must be involved. It’s especially beautiful when you can achieve that with total strangers, but it doesn’t always happen. The rarity of that situation is what makes it more special, but at the times when you see yourself being shaped into some sort of story, it’s a strange and upsetting feeling. It’s disappointing how people often feel the need for categorization in the arts, like everything fitting into a neatly labeled cabinet.

Does the thinking behind the record seem to shift over time or is it always the same?

I think it shifts in a sort of natural way because you can never really get into the same exact mindset as yesterday. Humans are different people everyday. Day to day it’s always a subtle change, but over time it is usually drastic. So when I write and record an album, the more time that passes by after, the more strange it is to try and revisit that specific psychological state behind the record. The good thing is it’s all audibly documented.

What instruments do you play and write with?

Guitar, piano, programming, synths and percussion.

Did you find it easy to work with other musicians now you have a band around you?

I find it easy as long as they are willing to listen. I’ve gotten much better at communicating what sort of vision I’m seeing than I used to be. To me, that is always the most important because I get too obsessive with how things need to be. But it’s a healthy sort of obsession. Creating music is how I express things I don’t otherwise know how to express. That’s why it’s an oxymoron trying to describe it.

Is there a band whose journey you would like to follow at all?

Musically, I’m a wanderer. Going off alone, looking for new paths. Even if they lead to nowhere or I fail or its uninteresting or people don’t get it, I have to. Its never about being successful in the eyes of the world.

Do you find it difficult to lose yourself in other people’s music at present?

No, I’ve been getting really lost in others’ music. During writing periods, I find it hard to listen to anything, but I have taken a break from writing to clear some things out. I’ve been buying a lot of older records and spending time with them.

Do you remember your dreams?

I never did much in the past, but lately I have. I had a dream the other day that was so vivid, I didn’t know what was real. I was going in and out of sleeping, and I literally got lost mentally. As silly as it sounds, I didn’t know what reality was. It was the first time that’s ever happened.

Do you think that we can attune ourselves to listen to our subconscious better?

Yes. It’s all a learning process and takes a lot of discipline. There are thoughts and ideas inside us that are so abysmal, we don’t even know they exist, but you can learn to tap into those. I first started learning more about it through going to counseling. The subconscious is just the result of a cumulative process of events and experiences in our lives. Every event we experience in life affects us and stays with us whether we realize it or not. We were magnificently created.

Do you think things would be better if everyone got these thoughts out of them every so often?

We would learn much more about why we act the way we do. Sometimes people stay angry or hurt or discouraged or rejected or depressed for so long without ever knowing why. And those people that can get those thoughts out and explore them, can often trace feelings back to a certain event in life.

Are you comfortable with machines?

I’m always fascinated with the blending of organic instrumentation with machines. Taking traditional instruments and twisting them electronically until they sound broken or just completely unfamiliar. I wouldn’t say I’m more comfortable with machines though. I think the most limiting instruments, those that don’t have many options, are the ones most endless.

Do you think that the further we go along with machines becoming more and more a part of our lives, that we will lose site of our own mortality even more?

The more machines we rely on, the more distracted we get. The more screens we look at, the less we are able to recognize true beauty. There has to be a balance between reality and this black hole of computers. Machines have so many benefits in advancing our society and even so many aspects of our quality of life, but it’s easy to watch that grasp on balance slip away. It’s already happening.

You said that people are constantly changing. What do you want to change about yourself?

I want to learn to listen more. Like really listen. To things going on around me, and most of all people.

Wondrous Bughouse is available now through Fat Possum, and he’ll be playing the following UK dates:


15 – Brudenell Social Club, Leeds 16 – Gorilla, Manchester 18 – Hare & Hounds, Birmingham 20 – The Barbican, London – co-headline show with CocoRosie

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