Jona & Claire of YACHT >> came back to Phoenix recently for a show at Crescent Ballroom but before the duo took stage I got to shoot the shit with them for a bit and pick their brains about music, Portlandia, Outside Lands and their upcoming tour with Hot Chip - that is, after the nonsensical sidebar surrounding dogs playing poker and Cheap Thrills at 'some weird German restaurant' [Black Forrest Mills] according to Jona.
MARC: How did YACHT get started?
JONA: I started it in 2002 as a solo project to work with computers like electronic music. Then we met in 2004 and started working on stuff here and there together and in 2007 was her first official record recording with YACHT. Then in 2008 we decided to do everything together and became an official member. We did an album together and did another album together.
MARC: How do you determine who sings which vocals on which tracks?
CLAIRE: We both try and whoever fails less spectacularly is the person who is in charge. We have very different strengths so we come at things from different directions so it’s usually self-evident who takes what position. Whatever I can’t do Jona does excellently and whatever Jona can’t do I can do reasonably well.
MARC: I first got into YACHT when I saw you on Dinner With The Band. Do you remember playing that?
CLAIRE: Nope. That one got blanked from my memory
JONA: The dinner was poisoned, that’s something they don’t tell you about Dinner With The Band. It’s not fatal, it’s just a poisoning that makes you sick and you forget that you were on the show.
CLAIRE: It’s a potent beer toxin. I saw the video later and was like ‘Is that me?’ JONA: Are those our dummies?
CLAIRE: That looks like me. I don’t remember being there. It was our first television experience. We both sweated a lot and watched it in total shame.
JONA: It was totally fun.
MARC: I remember a lot of blessing with the microphone and it looked like Claire was drowning in the cords.
CLAIRE: There’s still a lot of that in our game.
MARC: Are you working on anything new?
JONA: We just put out a new EP. It’s called Le Goudron. Sorry I don’t speak French, [to Claire] you should say it.
CLAIRE: It’s called Le Goudron. It’s a cover of a Brigitte Fontaine song, like this fantastic radical free jazz funky band French artist from the 60’s. They’re still alive and still making crazy music. The songs are covers.
JONA: We also did a cover of The Velvet Underground song 'I’ll Be Your Mirror'. We never would have attempted to cover The Velvet Underground. That’s like sacred territory but we were commissioned to cover it for an HBO documentary about models. It comes out next month I think.
CLAIRE: We’ve been on the road basically since we released Shangri-La, nonstop so we haven’t really had the opportunity. When we record music it’s a concertive process we can’t do from the seam of our pants. We have to go away for many many months. We do all sorts of other stuff but when we make a new record we make a dramatic separation from our road life.
MARC: I see that you’re on the bill for Outside Lands. How excited are you for that?
JONA: Super psyched. There’s some crazy people on that bill too!
CLAIRE: San Francisco is kind to us always. We love san Francisco. We played this festival there called Treasure Island last year that was so fun and people there were really open and receptive with what we are trying to do so we have nothing but high hopes for Outside Lands.
MARC: Any other festivals on the radar?
CLAIRE: North Coast in Chicago and we’re playing one in upstate New York called Camp Bisco. It’s like a country rave and that’s it for now.
MARC: And then hit the studio or relax a bit?
JONA: Well we’re touring with Hot Chip in September.
CLAIRE: Europe in November for like a month-ish.
JONA: Then we’ll make new stuff.
CLAIRE: But we always say we’re going to take time off then new things keep materializing that we have to do.
JONA: We say yes.
MARC: Where do you live when you’re not touring?
JONA: Los Angeles as of 8 months ago.
MARC: Which part of LA?
CLAIRE: Silver Lake.
MARC: Cool. Seems appropriate.
CLAIRE: Yeah it was the easiest choice.
MARC: Where were you before that?
JONA: We both grew up in Portland.
MARC: Is it true that the dream of the 90’s is alive in Portland?
CLAIRE: It’s more true than even I can express. As a person who grew up in Portland, it’s beyond true.
MARC: So it’s based on a true story.
CLAIRE: It’s based on a true story. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good thing or a bad thing.
JONA: It’s a less exaggerated version of a true story. Portlandia is an understatement.
CLAIRE: Yeah it can be but you don’t really realize it until you take a step back and look at it from a distance. Being in Portland you feel like you never want to leave, as utopian people would say. Kinda scary.
MARC: What kind of hardware and software are you using?
JONA: Computers and email.
CLAIRE: Apple Mail. Sometimes web-based email.
JONA: Safari is our browser of choice. Fuck you, Chrome!
CLAIRE: I tried Chrome for awhile and I didn’t dig it.
CLAIRE: Email and guitars.
MARC: Haha ok and for music?
JONA: We use Macs. Til we die. We use Ableton.
CLAIRE: Ableton is a really beautiful tool.
JONA: The thing I like about Live is it’s out of the way, it’s like not in your face. It lets you make music without having to think about it. For me, it’s the quickest way to get something out of my head and into the air. I guess that’s why it’s called Live because it’s made for live performance, looping and making something as quickly as possible.
MARC: If you could travel back in time and travel anywhen and anywhere, when and where would you like to do a show and with who?
CLAIRE: If we did a show anywhere before 1985 people would tear their hair out.
JONA: They’d have no idea what we were doing.
CLAIRE: If you took a guy from the 18th century and gave him an iPad he would just explode. Not like any human being from the past isn’t neurological capable of using but there’s something to be said for...
JONA: [to Claire] You think that someone before 1985 would tear out their hair?
CLAIRE: Think about Rock & Roll, moms and dads throwing Beatles records in the fire because it was devil music - and that music is really baby music, I mean it’s fantastic but there’s nothing scary about Rock & Roll. If we leave the 20th century it’ll be fucking weird like if we play ancient Egypt we will be murdered.
MARC: But that would be a pretty cool vacation.
CLAIRE: It would be a cool way to die. They’re really into their death rituals.
JONA: For me it would be 1991. In Seattle at the Paramount Theater with Bikini Kill and Nirvana. Halloween. [to Claire] What’s yours?
CLAIRE: In the barracks. May 1968. Paris, France. Art of Youth revolution.
MARC: Can you get me tickets?
JONA: You’re on the list. We can’t give you paper tickets but you’re on the list.
MARC: Thanks! I appreciate it.
CLAIRE: Thanks for having us, internet.