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YACHT began as the solo project of Jona Bechtolt, a musician and multimedia artist who dropped out of high school in the 90s to play drums in a touring punk band with his older brother. In the latter part of the decade, he brought his DIY sensibility to laptop production, partnering with vocalist Khaela Maricich to release two albums with The Blow, an off-kilter pop group that gained a loyal following after 2006’s breakout Paper Televison.
Bechtolt began recording as YACHT in 2002, releasing the largely instrumental Super Warren MMIV (States Rights Records) in 2003, followed by Mega (released as a 10” vinyl, CD, and DVD combo by Marriage Records in 2004), and I Believe in You. Your Magic Is Real., in the spring of 2007. During this time, Bechtolt also collaborated with Devendra Banhart, Bobby Birdman, Mirah, Little Wings, and The Microphones, among others, was a prolific remixer, and created commissioned multimedia performances for PICA, Rhizome, The Kitchen, and MoMA.
YACHT transformed from a solo project to a duo with the addition of writer Claire L. Evans, who formally joined the band with the critically wellreceived See Mystery Lights, named “Best New Music” by Pitchfork and a “Critic’s Choice” by the New York Times in 2009. The pair have collaborated closely since, forming the nucleus of a nervy and experimental live band which expanded and contracted over the years as YACHT toured with LCD Soundsystem, Hot Chip, Vampire Weekend, The Postal Service, M83, and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
Their 2011 album Shangri-La (DFA Records) was followed by a string of singles and EPs, each of which showcased an increasingly canny design sensibility. By the release of their 2014 EP Where Does This Disco, they were asked by WIRED to discuss their work at the magazine’s first WIREDxDesign conference; afterwards, WIRED called YACHT’s practice “music not as a thing in itself, but the beginning of a chain of experiences which had no edge.”
For their 2015 album I Thought the Future Would Be Cooler, Bechtolt and Evans enlisted longtime bandmate Rob Kieswetter in the recording process. The album was released in late 2015 by Downtown Records, on the back of a highly conceptual promotional campaign entirely architected
by the band that was nominated for two Webby Awards. At the end of 2016, YACHT temporarily imploded. After a silence, they returned with the five-song EP Strawberry Moon, a pop polemic about online culture, animal rights, and the deep loneliness of failure.
Claire L. Evans’ first book, Broad Band: The Untold Story of the Women who Made the Internet, will be published by Penguin Random House in March 2018.