Music acts as an outlet for emotion for many people, whether you’re a listener or a creator of it. Youth Lagoon is a musical project born from the mind of Trevor Powers, a 26-year-old Idahoan who writes straight from the soul. And so, when his heart hurts, the songs follow suit. Making music under the moniker since he was just 20 years old, Powers has experienced incredibly dynamic changes and growth as an artist. Sound Of Boston had the chance to talk with Powers about his music before his show at Paradise Rock Club on October 30th.

“[Touring] is so good, I missed it a lot,” Powers said, regarding his two year absence from the tour circuit. “We’ve only had about two days off so far,” he added. (He was only a week into the tour.) “But it’s nice to stay busy.”

Savage Hills Ballroom, though not named for an actual ballroom, comes from a special place in Powers’ mind. “It’s a mystical place. I think of things in mental images, and while I was working on the album, I pictured this [ballroom]…a place that’s ominous but still inviting. And I needed an appropriate name for that, and ‘Savage Hills Ballroom’ fit.”

While taking a much-needed break from touring, Powers also took a break from writing. But when he finally got back into it, he tested out some new approaches. He spoke on writing the first track for the album, “Again.”

“I had taken a break, about two to three months not writing. Then I got really into programming and doing things from a very rhythmic perspective before putting chords down. It starts with ideas. I [feel like] you’re a different person coming out of [the process] once you’ve recorded those ideas.”

”It’s a very patient album,” he said. “This is the kind of album where I felt that every single element had to be intentional.”

The ideas on Savage Hills Ballroom come from a very personal place. Powers warbles, “We’re all babies born too soon,” on “No One Can Tell.” Though his previous albums have been highly introspective, Savage Hills digs deeper. Echoing, synth-laden songs build and crescendo to a sonic and personal breaking point.

But where do you draw the line before a song becomes so personal that it makes the listener uncomfortable?

“It all comes down to having your own boundaries,” Powers said. “You have to come from a place of being genuine. People pick up on that.”

Youth Lagoon’s signature, synthy, dream pop sound sounds far removed from reality, which is one tactic Powers uses to make his music so revelatory. “[The genre] is equal parts escapism and dealing with reality. Music has that existence where you can disappear from the world or you can face it head on.”

And Powers has dealt with some pretty heavy things head on. His previous tour, in support of his sophomore release Wondrous Bughouse, was cut short due to the death of a close friend. “[Taking a break] was so vital. I was on tour in England, and I cancelled the rest of the tour to come home. If I hadn’t, it would have eaten me up inside, and it would’ve been so unfair for everyone back home to go through it alone,” he said.

“It’s so important to make sure no matter what you’re doing, that if you encounter hardships, you just drop it and spend some time with others who understand what you’re going through.” But Youth Lagoon is back in the studio, back on the road, and better than ever.

In terms of the future, Powers spoke on where his success may take him: “I’m starting to see a whole different end game than I ever expected for myself. Each album has brought me to a place where I’ve known more and more where I’m going.”

An artist who has experienced great tragedy as well as immense growth, Youth Lagoon isn’t going away again any time soon.

 

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