With only three songs released, Boise-based Youth Lagoon is a young project. But the three songs— “July,” “Cannons” and the pre-album single, “Montana”—exhibit such emotional density and control that it’s hard to believe 22-year-old Youth Lagoon mastermind Trevor Powers is barely out of college.
Lo-fi bedroom pop at first glance, Youth Lagoon’s songs distinguish themselves by opening up. They ditch timid navel-gazing in favor of a massive expansionist attitude, starting slowly and building to a huge coda. Coupled with powerful lyrics tied to Powers’ own anxious thoughts and memories—”July” is an image from an Independence Day long ago, stuck on the rooftop watching neighborhood fireworks—the songs exhibit vulnerability even as they go big. Powers’ breathy higher range, soaked in reverb, counterpoints the anthemic crescendos, making lo-fi bedroom pop both cathartic and actually kind of badass.
July by Youth Lagoon
For Powers, the songs are a way to excise the thoughts burning a hole in his head. “I have really bad anxiety,” he says. “I worry about things that I shouldn’t, so I started writing these songs in my bedroom. Most of them graze about things that go on in my head, but a lot of them relate to stuff in my past.” As conflicted as his thoughts are, Powers is incredibly personable during our interview, has the charmingly cluttered speech of someone who thinks faster than he talks and is prone to nervous laughing—it is also clear that he values his friends and attributes his own success to the collective efforts of everyone around him. After I mention that Youth Lagoon is his project, Powers is quick to name all of his “buddies” who worked on the recordings with him. “Thanks to the help of my friends, we were really able to nail the vision of it,” he says sheepishly.
Youth Lagoon began when Powers was enrolled at Boise State in pursuit of an English degree. He recorded “July” and “Cannons” on his Christmas break, but he never really expected anything to come out of it. That changed when the Internet got hold of the tracks and he found himself building buzz in between classes. Eventually, Powers got his associate’s degree and left his bachelor’s degree for another day. “It was something that I wanted to really put all of my effort toward,” he says. But that doesn’t translate to forced or mechanical-sounding music; instead, Powers’ crescendos happen naturally. “I don’t have much of a formula when I write music,” he says. “Oftentimes I’ll just have a certain thought in my mind and try to translate it into music. When I do that, it sometimes just naturally builds because I have so much emotion on whatever topic I’m writing about, and I’m just like ‘Ahh‘ and hit the keys harder and add organ here, and by the end of whatever I’m feeling, it ends up turning into something a little bigger and grander.”
Montana by Youth Lagoon
In September, Youth Lagoon will release its debut, The Year Of Hibernation, an oblique reference to Powers’ period of anxiety. Powers signed to Fat Possum (“They’re just rad dudes, and we hit it off really well. I’m stoked about it.”), and The Year Of Hibernation comes out September 27. Before then, Powers will embark on a North American tour, and he has intricate plans to reproduce his anthems live: “I play keys, and on top of that I have my synthesizer that does bass boosts and loops—I create all my own beats,” he says gleefully. “I have my own beat machine, and I trigger each beat with a foot pedal, so I can do it all at once. I’m going to be touring with my buddy Logan Hyde, who learned all the guitar parts. It’ll just be me and him onstage.” A European tour is possibly in the future, but for now, Powers is “super stoked about the live setup” for Youth Lagoon. Judging from the buzz, he’s not the only one.
Tour Dates For Youth Lagoon:
09/02 – San Francisco, CA – The Sub
09/03 – Los Angeles, CA – FYF Afterparty (Location TBA)
09/04 – San Diego, CA – Tin Can Ale House
09/05 – Phoenix, AZ – Rhythm Room
09/07 – Austin, TX – Emo’s Alternative Lounge
09/10 – Raleigh, NC – Hopscotch Festival
09/12 – New York, NY – Mercury Lounge
09/13 – Pittsburgh, PA – Stage AE
09/14 – Columbus, OH – The Basement
09/15 – St. Louis, MO – Cicero’s
09/16 – Columbia, MO – The Blue Note
09/22 – Urbana, IL – Pygmalion Festival
09/23 – Bloomington, IN – The Bishop
09/24 – Cincinnati, OH – Midpoint Music Festival