In the past year, Youth Lagoon has played over 100 shows, captivating audiences over four continents with material from his now critically acclaimed debut, The Year of Hibernation. Also known as Trevor Powers, it is clear that Youth Lagoon acts as a musical pseudonym where Powers can freely express himself, beyond the maturing constraints of anxiety and learning how to live and love. Aside from the central themes that form the majority of Youth Lagoon’s lyrics, we discover that he also enjoys and embraces youth, in its purest form. We caught up with Powers, who told us all about his lust for life, his pyromaniac tendencies and all-you-can-drink whiskey…
How would you describe your sound?
Haha, that’s always been a question I’ve hated! I can say that my musical influences easily include old folk music and Americana, but growing older, definitely more electronic stuff like Brian Eno. So I would say that my music is a combination of very organic sounds mixed with electronica, it’s sort of hard to describe.
Your album explores some themes closely associated with growing up, learning to love, dealing with heartache, and building identity. Do you feel like the experience you have gained since writing these songs have altered your original perceptions?
I don’t know if it has so much been altered as completely changed in some ways. I’ve always been somebody who has been obsessed with certain fears, and stuff that won’t let me go. Things that hold me back. This whole journey so far has made me face a lot of things that I was previously scared of, and in a lot of ways I have seen myself just grow as a person. It’s cool because I feel that everyday I learn new things, so can essentially be a new person every day. I’m constantly growing.
Touring The Year of Hibernation has been your first true travelling experience. What have you learnt about growing up on the road?
It’s been so crazy and rad seeing new places, It’s funny because travelling can be putting yourself out on a limb, it can be a scary thing but once you start doing it, it becomes so addictive – even just seeing new places alone. I definitely have the travel bug now. Idaho has so many cool spots up in the mountains, I already love camping, hiking and all that stuff so even when I am home, I like to at least just get outside. Travelling has made me realise I can do this on such a large scale!
Best tour experience thus far?
I think one of the raddest experiences so far was playing in Tokyo at Hostess Club Weekender. During the festival, me and my friend Logan met up with the guys from Wu Lyf and we ended up going to this karaoke bar after we finished playing. It was US$10 for all you can drink whiskey, so we just went crazy in our private room in this karaoke bar. It was memorable, I mean it was so rad dude, it was awesome – we had the time of our lives
Aside from writing, experimenting and mastering your tracks during your year of hibernation, what else did you get up to?
During the whole process, I was still studying English at Boise State University, so I was writing a lot of papers and hanging out with friends. Particularly in one of their houses downtown where you can climb up onto the roof, so spent so much time up on that roof, kickin’ back.
Because you were studying English, who is your favourite author?
I hate to say this, because it sounds like a lame answer but I would say… Stephen King?! I love, absolutely love horror novels and things like that.
You have previously mentioned being excited about visiting Australia. Is there anything you’re really hoping to see during your second visit?
You know I’m excited just for the whole experience again, but definitely Byron Bay. I’ve never been there and I’ve heard it’s beautiful, so I’m excited for that and the coast. I love water, so can’t wait to see the beauty and just be there.
Your first hit, July, refers to a significant love that you walked away from. With Independence Day just around the corner, does this day still hold personal significance to you?
You know, it does more than ever now, just because of how much my whole life has shifted. I was actually thinking about it the other day and this whole upcoming tour is going to be exactly a year from when I first started playing. I remember playing a local show in July last year – the song had already been recorded, so it’s kind of been a year from that and it still does bring up some strange feelings. The song goes a long way back and compares a really good 4th of July to one that was really difficult. I haven’t spoken to the girl in a long time.
On a lighter note, can you tell us about one of your favourite Independence Day past times?
I dunno, I sort of really love blowing up things and it’s kind of one of those days where you don’t need an excuse! At parties and stuff, I’m always the one where people are like “Trevor, stop!” I’m always blowing up things and lighting things on fire. I feel it’s the type of day where no one can stop you.
I’m holding a house party soon and you’re invited – we’re blowing shit up.
Haha yes! Let me know, let me know man!
Your music has received some rather humbling global acclaim. Did you feel that you were onto something special whilst bunked down in Boise?
Actually, I’ll be dead honest with you and say I didn’t think people would like it. When the project was done, I was hanging out at this house party with some of my friends, the record was done so I decided to play it to them. Some of my friends loved it and some of them were almost disappointed. It kind of warped my perspective because I was really proud. I mean it comes back to this whole thing where the reason I make music is for me. Period. At the end of the day, it’s the way I interpret the world. I like to think I don’t care what people say about it, but at the same time it threw me off to have some people say that. I’m proud of it and that’s what I really care about
Did you ever fathom the sort of success, which The Year of Hibernation has brought you?
I’m just so thankful because when I was a little kid taking piano lessons, I knew music was what I loved to do, I always had some big goals for it but to realise these goals and to see it start to happen has just been so humbling.
A friend told me that Boise is like Twin Peaks without the bush. How would you describe your hometown?
(Laughs)* Ooohh that’s funny – I guess it is though in some parts. I would say that it’s really an escape from the rest of the world. Boise is so relaxed, the people are different here, no one really has some place to be all the time, and it’s a really relaxed environment. I love it. I love Idaho.
You have claimed that your music is like letting people read your diary. Have you kept a one whilst abroad?
I have, but haven’t been super-diligent with it. Often there have been times where I feel that I should be writing in my journal, but I’ll just write a song instead. I guess songwriting simply just replaces all of that.
Have you taken up any hobbies whilst on the road?
In hotel rooms, we always try to watch King of the Hill as much as we can! Other than that, it’s actually pretty busy. People think that you have a lot of spare time but all of the spare time that you have is in the van and when you get as carsick as I do, you can’t read, so I pretty much just lead the life of a cat until I show up to the venue, where it’s always super-busy. There’s really not a lot of downtime and I don’t like having days off too, I’d rather just be playing shows.
Finally, which three acts you would like to see at your dream gig?
Radiohead for sure, Bob Dylan and Talking Heads.
Your favourite season?
It’s gotta be winter, I love winter.
The name of your first high school crush?
Your drink of choice?
Makers on the rocks.
Dude, you have good taste in music, blow shit up and know how to drink properly. We need to hang out more!
Haha well do you have my number? – Well I guess not, because some operator connected this call. Want my number? It’s 208-79?? ????
Aha, any guilty pleasures?
Taco Bell. Cool.
*Trevor seriously couldn’t stop laughing.
Youth Lagoon is playing shows in Sydney and Melbourne at the end of July
Saturday July 28 – The Factory Theatre, Sydney
Tickets from: The Factory Theatre or ph: 02 9550 3666
Sunday July 29 – The Corner Hotel, Melbourne
Tickets from: cornerhotel.com or ph: 03 9427 9198
Youth Lagoon online: