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Over the course of a lengthy evolution, YACHT transformed from a solo project of playful bedroom beats into a streamlined force of dancefloor pop. Beginning as a vehicle for songs from Jona Bechtolt when he was still involved with K Records act the Blow, the band took shape when second member Claire L. Evans joined. Together the synth pop duo explored themes of technology, dystopian futures, and commitment in the digital age on albums like 2015's I Thought the Future Would Be Cooler.
YACHT began as a solo project for producer and multimedia artist Bechtolt, who took up music as a teenager, dropping out of high school to play drums in a touring punk band with his brother; in the latter part of the '90s he began working with electronics. He teamed up with vocalist and performance artist Khaela Maricich to form the Blow, whose upbeat blend of beats and off-kilter melodies won them a loyal following after releasing the first of several albums for K Records in 2002.
In 2003, he unveiled YACHT, his solo project, with the largely instrumental album Super Warren MMIV, released by States Rights Records. A year later, he teamed with the Marriage label for a 10" vinyl YACHT album Mega 10", which was re-released as a CD with accompanying DVD of Bechtolt's digital filmmaking. The third YACHT album, I Believe in You. Your Magic Is Real., arrived in the spring of 2007. When not occupied with YACHT or the Blow, Bechtolt has worked as a collaborator and/or accompanist for Devendra Banhart, Bobby Birdman, Mirah, Little Wings, the Microphones, and many others, as well as remixing tracks for Architecture in Helsinki and White Rainbow. In addition, he is the founder of the Urban Honking blog collective, helmed the online reality show satire The Ultimate Blogger, and has created performance pieces under commission to New York City's New Museum of Contemporary Art and the Portland Institute of Contemporary Art.
By 2008, Bechtolt had transformed YACHT from a solo project to a full-fledged duo, recruiting vocalist (and respected science writer/theorist) Claire L. Evans to sing on 2009's critically well-received See Mystery Lights. They continued working together, releasing the Shangri-La album in 2011 for DFA and a string of singles afterward ("Second Summer" in 2012, "Plastic Soul" and "Where Does This Disco?" in 2014). For their next album, I Thought the Future Would Be Cooler, Bechtolt and Evans worked with Rob Kieswetter (aka Bobby Birdman and also a member of YACHT's live band) to come up with their poppiest effort yet. It was released in late 2015 by their new label, Downtown. In 2016, the group enacted an elaborate publicity stunt involving a fictional sex video of Evans and Bechtolt (a couple) that they claimed had leaked online without their permission. The stunt fooled enough of the media to be widely reported on, but when it was quickly debunked, YACHT faced significant backlash from many who felt the prank was highly insensitive. Despite the damage the stunt did to their career and public standing, the band persisted and returned in 2019 with seventh album Chain Tripping, released on DFA. ~ Mark Deming
- Portland, OR
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