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Trevor William Powers a.k.a Youth Lagoon, is a haunted young man, possessed by another person all together. Born in California, raised in Boisem Idaho (USA) produces simplistic melodies, sprinkled with a hint of sadness and melancholia. Layered with lush electronic elements. The full scope of his talent can be admired on stage, in a live setting. (For that we have added a truly exceptional full live performance from Pitchfork Music Festival in Paris last year, see further down). His stellar vocal abilities and work on keys portray a simple lad from another dimension. We are pretty convinced you’ll enjoy his music.

Music fed by incessant flash-backs blended with teenage mamories topped by influences of a wide range of artists like Chris Garneau, Buddy Holly and Bradford Cox, Youth Lagoon, is the long-time-running new(ish) comer everyone has been waiting for. After three awe-inspiring studio album since 2010, Trevor Powers has reach maturity with the latest installment. Read on Sophie’s interview to dig deeper…

Youth Lagoon released his new album “Savage Hills Ballroom on September 25th via Fat Possum Records.

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Interview by Sophie. Photographs by Michela Cuccagna.
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“We’re very self-obsessed people and to me it’s very funny so I wanted to make a satire” – Trevor Powers, aka Youth Lagoon…

Let’s start with your new record, “Savage Hills Ballroom”. I found the production darker than on your previous albums. I know you don’t like when people say you’re doing bedroom pop so do you think this more sophisticated sound was a way to prove you were not that kind of artist ?

I don’t think so… I just think I was writing music. I think some of that frustration probably bleeds out of it a little bit but it wasn’t anything intentional. It wasn’t my ambition to try to avoid any tags. The term bedroom pop doesn’t mean anything cause people have always written music in their bedroom so it’s meaningless. I don’t like genres in general ! (laughing)

For this record you worked with Ali Chant. You can easily recognised his sound, like for instance the distortions on Again. Was it something he brought to the album ?

Youth Lagoon.Portrait 2015.Paris.Michela Cuccagna©

Yeah, I think the reason why we worked so well together was that we work in very different ways. He works very quickly and I enjoy taking my time on things. I’m the kind of person that can sit down at a synthetizer and mess around with sounds for like three days until I find the right sound and Ali is more someone who wants you to take five minutes. It made me make up my mind faster and it made him be a little more patient. We have different personalities but similar music tastes and so we worked well together.

You said that you needn’t something not easy for this record.

If you do the same thing over again, if you stay in your same environment, you’re just stuck and you’re gonna say the same thing over and over again. As a human being I feel like you have to push yourself.

The vocals are also different on this record, more upfront and clear.

Yeah, a little bit clearer, which was not intentional. It just started happening and as it happend we realised that this is the way this album needs to be because it’s very bare and I think there were a lot of things that I wanted to make known through the lyrics. And I really wanted people to listen to it and to be able to sense a bit of what I was going through when I wrote these songs.

Youth Lagoon.Portrait 2015.Paris.Michela Cuccagna©

Talking about the lyrics, failures, weaknesses and frustrations are quite recurrent. Goethe said « the man with enough insight to admit his limitations comes nearest to perfection », so do you feel a better person now ?

Wow… that’s a good question ! I feel like I’ve discovered things about myself that I didn’t know. My goal is to always do that through music because it’s a very introspective thing for me. Everytime I write I’m just trying to figure shit out. I’m trying to figure out who I am and hopefully I’m like this until I’m an old man because I never want to be stagnant. Music is my way of doing that and I’m always searching through something even if I don’t know what it is yet.

There’s some kind of symbolism with gold around this record : the artwork, the gold mask in the video of Highway Patrol Stun Gun and even the lipstick you have on stage. What does this colour represent to you ?

As humans, we always want to look perfect and we want to appear without flaws. Whenever someone is walking in the street, if you’re behind , you can see them walk by doors with mirrors and look at themselves or you’ve got a photo taken of you with your friends and the first person you look out is you ! (laughing) In general, we’re very self-obsessed people and to me it’s very funny so I wanted to make a satire of that and I thought gold was a way to do that.  Ok, you want perfect so I’m gonna put on gold paint and I’m gonna make this elaborate sort of ballroom setting. It’s a mockery of that idea.

I know you’ve been rehearsing for a few months now so what can we expect from the live shows ?

Hopefully, it goes well ! (laughing). No, we’ve been rehearsing for a long time and everyone is very tired. We’re friends, which helps. Two of the guys are from Boise and one of them is a guy that I met from Los Angeles and he’s been living in Boise for a couple of months to rehearse. So we got really close and I think that helps on stage because you can read each other and every night is different, which makes it exciting.

You’ve created two playlists on Spotify : Chicken Pot Pie and Baby, We Have Company. If you had to pick only one song on both playlists, which one would you choose ? Cause there’s actually my favorite song ever !

Which song is that ?

Björk, Unravel.

Oh, I love that song! That’s one of my favorite of all time ! I’m also a huge fan of David Axelrod. He’s phenomenal !

Finally, since Sodwee stands for Sound Of The Week, what would be your sound of the week ?

Hum… I don’t know really… I haven’t listened to a lot of music lately. I’ve been so consumed with getting ready for tour !  I want to think of something good…. Ciara, Goodies ! (laughing) :

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Youth Lagoon – Daydream (Noah Hyde remix) :

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Watch Youth Lagoon’s full set by La Blogothèque captured at Pitchfork TWO years ago in Paris…

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