He suffers from extreme anxiety and his music is filled with darkness, but Trevor Powers insists he’s just a normal guy.
The man behind Youth Lagoon said he works hard to try and create positive, anthemic tunes – but most of the time, they come out at the other end of the spectrum.
“It’s funny, because I try to write upbeat music, but the things that really inspire me aren’t the happy things”, he said. “I’m a really happy person, I have fun like everyone else, I have friends and all that. But when it comes to creating something art-ish, the things that really inspire me is stuff that bugs and haunts me.”
Proof that Powers is a normal dude and has friends comes from our chat – he’s taken time out from hanging with them in a bar in Ohio to take my phone call, and is swinging a Jamieson and Coke in his hand.
He’s also very willing to shed light on some of the pretty extreme things that have haunted and bugged him in the past due to his condition.
“For an entire year I was worried I’d kill someone”, he said. “It kind of obsessed my mind when it took me to my dark place, I’d have images flash in my mind of people I’d lost. A lot of the anxieties are like violence…just crazy things. You wrestle with things which aren’t real, your mind takes you to weird fucking places you don’t even think of. And when it happens in real life, it’s even scarier.”
And punters can get an insight into Powers’ raw and erratic musical world when Youth Lagoon come to Australia for Splendour in the Grass and a handful of sideshows at the end of the month.
Powers is especially looking forward to Splendour as his driver on his last visit to Australia earlier this year hyped up Byron Bay.
“I’m super excited. The last time I was in Australia, the guy driving around actually knew dudes in Byron Bay, and he just raved about it. And I was like, ‘man, I need to get back there’…then all this stuff happened, and I was like, ‘yes!’.”
Powers said he’s put lots of effort into Youth Lagoon’s live show – wanting to make it different to a standard reinterpretation of his album, The Year of Hibernation.
“After the record was done last year I thought, ‘I’ve gotta replicate this live and make it feel real’”, he said. “So many times you see bands play songs live and you think it sounds exactly the same as the record…but you didn’t come to see a record, you came see the band perform. I hired a friend of mine to do guitar parts and it was a challenge to accomplish every sonic element of the record, but I’m really excited, and the live performance has transformed it into something that sounds really raw and different.”
The Year of Hibernation has been described by Powers as a journal of his life and his feelings – with the music turning it into his “thereaputic escape from the world”.
“That record was a lot of personal things built up inside of me that I couldn’t phrase to other people, even family and friends. It was my escape from things and a beautiful way to interpret the world.”
And, he believes many people who are struggling with self-expression should turn to music as a way of sharing themselves with the world.
“You are always told if you struggle with certain thoughts to put them on a sheet of paper”, he said. “I tried doing that and it does help a lot, but music has a way of helping you say things you couldn’t or can’t.”
The Year of Hibernation is out now. Youth Lagoon plays at Splendour in the Grass in Byron Bay on Friday, July 27, along with sideshows at the Factory Theatre in Sydney on Saturday, July 28 and the Corner Hotel in Melbourne on Sunday, July 29. For all the details, click here.