|Behind the band Youth Lagoon is the psychedelic singer/songwriter Trevor Powers.
The early years
Powers was born in 1989 in San Diego, but he was raised in Boise, Idaho. He attended Boise State University, where he explored his musical inclinations while spending a lot of time in his school’s music building and writing songs between classes. He crafted his debut album over his 2010 winter break and recorded it at a friend’s home studio.
Youth Lagoon’s first album, The Year of Hibernation, was released in September 2011. While It did not have any singles, two songs “Cannon” and “July” were accessible on the Internet through Bandcamp before the full album was released. The album was well-received and people gravitated toward Powers’ dreamy pop sound combined with brutally honest lyrics about subjects such as death, heartache and crippling anxiety. The songs reflect the time in which they were recorded, which Powers has since explained as both a literal and metaphoric hibernation. “I had a lot of stuff going on in my mind and my life, and so throughout the whole writing process I was, in a sense, hibernating in my bedroom,” said Powers to journal the Frontier Psychiatrist. At the time, Powers was receiving counseling for anxiety. However, in order to save up enough money to record the album with his friend and engineer Jeremy Park, he ceased counseling sessions, which affected his personal relationships and his songwriting.
In this album, Powers wanted to capture the fullness of a band without the actual thing, so he used pro tools while recording. This included Powers playing the keyboards, operating a drum machine and singing and Erik Eastman playing the guitar. He also utilized the environment of a home studio to generate a particular sound. For instance, the song “July” was recorded while Powers was playing from both the kitchen and the living room to cultivate a blend of two rooms. This intimacy he accomplished matched the intimacy of the lyrics. The album garnered attention from the Internet and Pitchfork included it in its “Best New Tracks.” It immediately sparked an online buzz and resulted in a two-album deal with Fat Possum Records.
Youth Lagoon’s sophomore album Wondrous Bughouse was released in March 2013. Instead of focusing on the limitations of life, it looks inward to the endless possibilities of the mind. The songs embody a a faint hopefulness like in the song “Dropla” with the refrain, “You’ll never die / You’ll never die.” The sound is also different. Powers’ former album started out quietly, but this time around the songs are equipped with loud drums and guitars that echo throughout the album. This evolved because Powers did as well. “I’ve never felt truly comfortable. It’s this feeling of uneasiness that follows me everywhere I go because my thoughts never shut up,” he said to Fat Possum Records. “It used to exhaust me, but I’ve learned discomfort is invaluable.”
While touring, Powers received a phone call that his close friend had tragically drowned in his hometown’s river. He left tour and flew back for the funeral. The next year had an impact on his mind, and as a result his songwriting. It changed his mentality about music. “There was a lot more purpose in what I was trying to say,” he tells SPIN. “Everything was more intentional, a little more driven by the subconscious.”
However, Power quickly clarifies Savage Hill Ballroom isn’t all about the death of his friend though it contains some thematic elements. It allowed him to foster his grieving into art. “I think music is always somewhat of an escape, but at the same time it’s also my way of dealing with reality,” he said to The Fader.