Youth Lagoon: Sleeping It Off | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
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Youth Lagoon

Sleeping It Off

Jun 30, 2011 #37 – St. Vincent
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Like a lot of songwriters, Trevor Powers has learned that the best musical inspiration often comes at the expense of a broken heart. For four years the young native of Boise, Idaho had been with a girlas he saw it, the girl. Last year, however, things began to unravel, and Powers, who had typically spent his free time jamming with various friends, had suddenly taken to a more solitary outlet.

By the time the relationship had come to its ill-fated end, Powers had amassed a small collection of introspective, reverb-laden compositions hollowed out by fragmented images and associations of the troubled period. His self-imposed seclusion while writing and recording provided a fitting title for his debut LP: The Year of Hibernation. "It rang true with what that year looked like for me," says Powers, who has adopted the moniker Youth Lagoon. "It's not that I'm a loner. I love being with my buddies, but there's something about me just being in my bedroom alone, playing music by myself. There's something a little more meaningful to me about that."

Bedroom pop in the truest sense, Youth Lagoon's eight-song full-length ("It's honestly all I could afford," says Powers with a laugh.) was recorded during the 22-year-old's most recent winter break while attending Boise State University.

Drawing inspiration from some of his favorite records, such as Cocteau Twins' Treasure, Powers employed a creative method of obtaining the ghostly, saturated vocals that permeate throughout the album. "When I recorded the tracks for the album, I recorded the vocals dry. And my friend has these in-laws that were out of town, so we went to use their garagethis massive four-car garageand we played the vocals through these little speakers," Powers recounts. "We just set up mics all over the garage and recorded all the reverb. I don't know what it is, but I just really like my vocals to sound more distant instead of right up front where you can understand every word perfectly."

In addition to lovelorn experiences and memories, such as an Independence Day party spent on his ex-girlfriend's apartment rooftop ("July"), or the words on a sweatshirt worn during an uncomfortable conversation ("Montana"), another influential component to the music is Powers' personal anxieties, things that he says seem to invade his head for no sensible reason. Unable to fully articulate what causes them and where they come from, Powers recalls that, as a young boy, he used to have this strange fear that he was going to die before Christmas, simply because he enjoyed the holiday.

"A lot of people will have anxiety about semi-normal things, like, 'Oh, I have a test tomorrow,' or stuff like that," he explains, "but with me, my mind tends to make up things, worrying about things that aren't real. But it turns into good music. I'm not crazy or anything, I just tend to worry about stuff I don't need to worry about."

Such anxieties thankfully do not inhibit Powers' live performances. "When I'm playing music, it's the farthest thing from me," he says. Powers believes that, as Youth Lagoon builds an audience, he'll be able to reach out to those experiencing the same kind of growing pains. "That's the big thing," he says. "I just want to write personal music, because I feel like when music is personal and real, there's going to be other people out there that are going to be able to connect to that."



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