Jona Bechtolt is a technological multi talent: his band, YACHT, is an amalgamation of self-taught dance moves and anthemic electro-power jams all played backwards and covered in cherry cola. YACHT shows are uncluttered, inspiring sessions of improbable dancing and synchronized crowd-waving; the songs shudder happily into the air, and any preconceived notions of what makes an energetic performance are shattered by Bechtolt’s own strain of shamanistic bombast.
Bechtolt has been a promiscuous genre-smasher since his adolescence, when he decided that playing drums in the touring punk band he formed with his older brother was more worthwhile than attending a single day of high school. He’s plied his unique breed of laptop wizardry and grunge ethos to endless collaborations, both as drummer and producer, with west coast mainstays like Panther, Little Wings, Mt. Eerie, Bobby Birdman, Devendra Banhart, E*Rock, and most currently The Blow.
Convinced that being a band takes more than just putting out records, Becholt is perpetually producing content. His deeply archival tour diary and video blog has been lighting up the Internet for nearly three years, while his ease with technology and aesthetics has led to a litany of web-based projects, notably the co-creation and graphic fatherhood of the Urban Honking blogger collective, and The Ultimate Blogger, an Internet reality TV spoof where bloggers from around the world compete to win the illustrious title, which Bechtolt films, co-writes, and edits.
All this techy cross-pollination has not gone unnoticed in the art world. In 2003, he was commissioned to create and perform a full-length electronic pop opera by The Portland Institute for Contemporary Art (PICA). In the beginning of 2006 he was commissioned for three performances by the New York-based New Museum of Contemporary Art’s art and technology platform, Rhizome.org. Right after that he performed at MoMA’s PS1 and produced an hour-long internet radio program with Clear Cut Press; a northwest-based publisher of new literary work. Most recently, he performed with his frequent collaborator and girlfriend Claire L. Evans at The Kitchen, a prestigious New York performance space, and a few days later performed at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris with west coast laser folkies Lucky Dragons and Bobby Birdman.
This creative omnipresence, all accomplished without the aid of stimulants, might drive most human beings to dark corners of social awkwardness and egotism; somehow, though, Jona Bechtolt is made of pure joy and remains an optimist to the core…maybe even to a fault.
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