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“We wanted to find a way to interrogate technology more deeply,” explains Claire L. Evans, one-third of the Los Angeles-based pop group YACHT. “From the ground up,” adds her partner and YACHT founder Jona Bechtolt.
The group—rounded out by longtime collaborator Rob Kieswetter—would know: their seventeen-year career has been marked by a series of conceptual stunts, experiments, and attempts to use technology “sideways,” from rock-and-roll PowerPoint presentations to their Webby-award-nominated campaign for I Thought the Future Would Be Cooler (2015), which featured, among other things, a music video that played only during Los Angeles’ rush hour and an album cover that could only be seen via fax. Even the band’s name speaks to this: YACHT is an acronym for Young Americans Challenging High Technology.
CHAIN TRIPPING is the band’s seventh album and third with DFA Records. Recorded between the band’s home in Los Angeles and Marfa, TX, the ten-song collection marks a shift in the group’s relationship with technology and their art. Rather than trying to comment on existing platforms from within their own filter bubble, the band stripped their process down and rebuilt it using a technology entirely new to them—Artificial Intelligence, and more specifically, machine learning. The result is an album that merges invention and intimacy, “challenging” technology from code to content.
“We saw this album as an opportunity to teach the machine our values, our history, our community, and our influences,“ adds Evans. “This record is a product of a technological moment that is rapidly evolving. It’s wonky and sometimes dances at the edge of meaning. It taught us everything we wanted to know about ourselves: how we work, what moves us, and which ambiguities are worth leaning into. We didn’t set out to produce algorithmically-generated music that could ‘pass’ as human. And we didn’t want to use AI to write push-button pop songs, either. We set out to make something meaningful. Something entirely our own.”