Claire L. Evans & Jona Bechtolt of YACHT

FAULT: What is your typical feeling before setting out on tour?

All-encompassing anxiety.

FAULT: How do you combine the concept of Utopia from Shangri-La into your live performance?

The way we understand Utopia, it’s not a physical space. The reason that so many intentionally created Utopias have ended in failure—from the Soviet Union, to Jonestown, to the countless socialist communes that once dotted the United States—is that separating yourself from other people, and the challenges they entail, is against human nature. We need difference, otherness and change in order to remain connected to the world at large. Isolation breeds myopia, then blindness, then, sometimes, fascism. The way we see it, Utopia is temporal, not physical. A place can be Utopian as long as its impermanence is understood, and as long as its residents are ready to jump headlong into new environments when the time comes. Of course, this worldview works for us because we operate primarily in a temporal, ineffable medium: music. YACHT shows are attempts to create temporary ecstatic spaces, brief Utopias in the fabric of time, which can be broken down as spontaneously as they began.

FAULT: What do you hope—or, enjoy—people take away from your live presentations?

We’re happy with any reading of the live show. If people walk away having had a simple good time, a lizard-brain hour of dancing, if they’re content with having witnessed a spectacle, we’re happy. The ideal thing, however, is for people to bring the sensation of controlled joyful chaos, of autonomous space, out of the rock club and into the world… into their lives. The core message of YACHT is radical self-empowerment, complete autonomy: if people can absorb that and reinterpret it in some manner that has bearing on their lives, then we’ve really done our job.

YACHT: Concept albums can be questionable, so as artists, what draws you to the idea?

I wouldn’t say our albums are concept albums. If anything, they are conceptual albums. All we do is work within fairly proscribed limitations; we’re in awe of artists who can undertake a project without a set of clearly defined parameters. We need to decide beforehand what our piece is going to be about before we can even begin to think about it. Ultimately, having set ourselves a limitation—“this one” will be about Utopia as we understand it—allows us to delve deeply into a set of ideas, using them as a starting point to eventually discuss much broader issues. When you begin with something specific like Utopia, you fall into big-picture discussions of reality, ideology and consciousness very quickly.

FAULT: What is Shangri-La summed up in your own words?

Shangri-La is whatever, wherever and whenever you want it to be.

FAULT: Utopia cannot exist without Dystopia. What does that mean to you and how is it reflected in this album?

We’ve always been fascinated by those particular kinds of binaries—things which cannot exist without their opposites. Black and white, life and death, heaven and hell, Utopia and Dystopia… They are inherently mystical. They are ancient, engrained into human consciousness; playing with them is like playing with fire. And since we’re a creative duo, a pair of collaborators whose opposing tendencies create the kinetic friction that drives us to make work, that fire feels relevant to us.

FAULT: You’ve described YACHT as a “Three Part Idea,” can you explain what that means?

YACHT is three things: a band, primarily, but also a belief system and a business. We delineate those three points because we want to be completely transparent. This way, nothing is hidden from the audience. We make music, we strive to succeed and we have ideas.

FAULT: You’ve recorded both at home and in the studio over these last two albums, do you have a preference or a distinction between the two that affects your creation process?

Not really. Each project is its own world. We change our working process for each album that we make, because we never want to make the same album twice. We made Shangri-La largely in a studio, not because we particularly wanted to make a “studio” album, but because we’d never done it before. We did it completely in our own way, without any engineers, writing the songs from scratch in the recording studio. We don’t know how we’ll make the next one. It depends entirely on the nature of the album and how it feels to us.

FAULT: Best part about being on tour…

Learning, through concrete and repeated action, that home is wherever you want it to be.

FAULT: What is your FAULT?

We’re much too hard on ourselves, and rarely take time to rest.

March tour dates:

03/01/12 St. Louis, MO @ Plush

03/02/12 Lawrence, KS @ Jackpot Music Hall

03/03/12 Denver, CO @ Larimer Lounge

03/05/12 Fort Collins, CO @ Aggie Theater

03/15/12-3/16/12 Austin, TX @ SXSW

03/29/12 Portland, OR @ Mississippi Studios

—Interview by Rachel Eleanor Sutton / Photograph by Alin Dragulin