Youth Lagoon's Trevor Powers on obsession, Boise and his new album - Reverb

Youth Lagoon’s Trevor Powers on obsession, Boise and his new album

By Erik Myers

Not every musical act might stop in Denver on a tour, but the Mile High City is lucky compared to other fly-over capitols. Boise, Idaho, for example, is rarely seen on touring schedules. But Trevor Powers, who performs as Youth Lagoon, is happy to live there despite his indie fame. The 23-year-old spoke to Reverb from Boise earlier this week, just before venturing out on a string of performances. He’ll be playing at Larimer Lounge on Friday night, days before the release of his new album “Wondrous Bughouse,” which arrives March 5.

R: NPR Music is currently streaming your new album. Robin Hilton deemed it one of the “most arresting headphone records of the year.” What’s your take on that term, “headphone record”?

YL: I actually agree with it. After this record was finished, there were some friends of mine who I showed it to immediately after it was done, and that was the first thing I told them: ‘Just listen to it on headphones.’ I guess my whole mindset going into creating it was to create this space that you can kind of disappear into. When I listen to music on headphones, I just zone out, like nothing else exists except what you’re hearing.

R: You wrote and recorded your first album in Boise, but for your new album “Wondrous Bughouse,” you wrote the record there but then recorded it with Ben Allen in Georgia? Comparatively, what was the experience like?

YL: The first record was done at a friend’s house. It was more of a relaxed environment. Working with Ben, I was more diligent. I went up to Georgia for two months and I had ‘x’ amount of time to get it done, so everything was way more focused. Working with someone like (Allen), it’s this whole thing of expressing to him the vibe I wanted for this record. We would have sessions where nothing would happen, but we’d just talk and he’d hear my songs. His goal was to make my goal his goal, but he went about it in different ways than I usually would. It created this healthy tension.

R: You told Pitchfork that morality was often on your mind when writing the new album. What brought about that mindset?

YL: I don’t know. Nothing was ever set out. I never had an agenda or topics. I have this weird OCD mentality where my mind latches on to certain things and it doesn’t let go. And that was one of the things I latched on to. There were no facts around it, just this weird kind of darkness I was feeling. It just leaked into some of the theme. I kept thinking, ‘I’m going to die soon.’

R: Your 24th birthday is coming up on March 18. Do you ever feel you’ve sacrificed any parts of your youth in pursuing success as a musician?

YL: I don’t think so. I was never pursuing success. It really is unreal to all of the sudden be in a spot where people are listening to what you create and what you’ve always been creating. It’s surreal, crazy. That was never my goal. I guess there’s the whole “bill” aspect, finances sneak into the picture. But all of that stuff aside, my goal always has been to do music, just to be able to pay bills and do it.

R: You’ve stated that you’ve no plans on leaving Boise in the near future. Why?

YL: This is just home. This is where my friends are. As long as I can always travel. Coming back home for two to three weeks between tours, it just puts you into that home mindset again. I love big cities. It’s not like I’d ever rule them out of the question, but that’s why I’m still here.

R: What are three songs, artists or albums that you’re enjoying right now?

YL: This Heat.They’ve been super influential as far as creating certain aspects of noise and having it be hypnotic. There’s very much a lack of melody, but because of that, there almost is a melody. Their record ‘Repeat’ came out in 1993. It’s amazing. It just takes you to a different place.

As far as melody goes, I’m really into early shoegaze, like Cocteau Twins and stuff like that. Just the whole atmospheric stuff rubbed off on me.

I’m a huge Spiritualized fan. Jason’s latest record is absolutely phenomenal, it’s one of my favorite records ever. It’s amazing.

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Electronic blogger Erik Myers is a Denver-based writer and contributor to Reverb. Contact him at erikmye@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter.