This is the story of the song “Psychic City,” the first single from our forthcoming album See Mystery Lights, and it starts with a man named Rich Jensen.
Rich is a very special person in the evolution of YACHT.
I met Rich in 2004, when I was 23 or 24. He was living in my hometown of Astoria, on the Oregon coast, where he had been putting on shows. After he’d put on a show for my friends Thanksgiving and Mount Eerie in an actual fishing net maker’s old shed, I asked him to help me with Catch That Beat, a small music festival I was organizing in (and for) Astoria. In 2005 and 2006, Rich organized a series of “book tours” for his publishing house, Clear Cut Press. He brought Claire and me with him to the East coast and West, where we did videos and PowerPoint performances under the name “We Two and the Universe.”
Rich is a friend and a fan. He wrote “Psychic City” (his version is actually called “Voodoo City”) in 1987, for his Two Million Years cassette, his second for K Records. Two Million Years is a surreal mix of field recordings and tone-poem “songs” (Rich thought “songs” were stupid at the time), and it’s been a huge influence for us in terms of sheer concept and unembellished honesty.
Once we both heard the recording of “Voodoo City” and had the pleasure of seeing Rich perform it on multiple occasions in the woods, in the desert, and on the astral plane, respectively, we wanted to personally live inside of the world and extend its life in the only way we know how. Which, I guess, is to repackage and reanimate it into a subversive damaged zombie pop banger.
We’re very proud of this time-travelling collaboration.
Psychic City (Voodoo City)
I used to live, live in a psychic city, I never knew what would happen in day.
I might be looking out the window, And a friend might say:
“Come on over, over, come on over, over. Come on over, we’re having a party for you.”
Ay-ya-ya-ya-ya — HUH!
I used to live in a voodoo city, Where every little thing had its own secret life.
I might be washing up the dishes, And the kitchen might say:
“Hang around baby, baby, hang around baby, baby. Hang around baby, we’ll be baking a cake for you.”
Ay-ya-ya-ya-ya — HUH!
I used to live in a heartbeat city, I swear I’d fall in love every minute on the street.
You might be walking around the corner, And our eyes might meet.
“Where you been darling, darling? Where you been darling darling? Where you been darling? We’ve been holding this moment for you.”
I told you your dreams would come true.
Ay-ya-ya-ya-ya — HUH!
We’ve always been very excited to share our influences. We’re going to release a carefully-crafted mix-tape soon of all the songs and “songs” that inspired See Mystery Lights. This story of “Psychic City” is the beginning. Here are all the fragments that came together to make this particular shell for the immortal body of the “song:”
The synth in Althea & Donna’s Uptown Top Ranking inspired the synth in the bridge:
YACHT – Psychic City (Bridge Synth)
(612 KB MP3)
The bubble-pop/iChat sound featured throughout R Kelly’s TP.3 Reloaded album (including the epic “Trapped in the Closet” series) inspired the beat in the verses:
YACHT – Psychic City (Verse Beat)
(326 KB MP3)
The ascending guitar “solo” and false ending are references to Brian Eno’s “Baby’s On Fire” off of one my favorite records of all-time, Here Come The Warm Jets.
I think our pitched-down version of the “HOOAH” parts were subconsciously inspired by the skits on Outkast’s Stankonia:
YACHT – Psychic City (Hooah)
(461 KB MP3)
All of this might feel a little early, but after Pitchfork received a promo copy of See Mystery Lights they wrote and asked us if they could premiere “Psychic City” a full two months before our album is formally released in the US (July 28th), and we agreed. As you may know, promo copies of albums have to go out to the press up to three months before their release, in order to give writers time to review them — this a model that’s based on print media, where magazine issues are written and laid out months in advance.
Now, if we had it our way we’d be releasing our records as soon as they were “finished” (we believe our music to be a living document), but there are all kinds of rules to this game that bands of our size must follow if we want to it to be received worldwide or even try to sell our music in its packaged form.
So, Pitchfork told us they wanted to premiere “Psychic City” before the album “inevitably leaks” (which is, incidentally, an inevitable product of sending out promo copies to press). That kind of honesty is exciting. We are aware that we no longer have any real control over the dissemination of our music. We are also excited about this, and the future path of See Mystery Lights. We invite you all in to walk it with us.