For two months in early 2008, Portland-based electropop duo YACHT set up camp in a small town located in the desert of West Texas, away from the city lights, but at the threshold of a completely different type of lights. Known as the Marfa Lights, the inexplicable dashes of lights that appear every night in the sky of Marfa, Texas, impacted Jona Bechtolt and Claire L. Evans, the two members of YACHT, in a profound way. On many occasions during their two-month stay in Marfa, the pair would grab a blanket, sit on the roof of their car, and observe the lights in the open desert. Not only did the lights go on to become the biggest inspiration for YACHT's latest album, See Mystery Lights, but they also changed Bechtolt and Evans' view of the world.
"We'd seen something truly rare, truly magic, truly unexplained, and yet evidently real," the pair explain. "Coming face-to-face with something like that changes you. It humbles you. It puts our microscopic human relevance in the grand scheme of this cavernous universe into perspective. We had long conversations about the lights and their implications to us as people. Although we're very different from one another, they affected us identically."
Bechtolt was the first out of the two to see the Marfa lights. In 2004, some people in Austin recommended that he make a stop to see the lights in Marfa while on his way to California. After seeing the lights, he drove to Los Angeles to play a show and met Evans for the first time; her band was also on the bill. Later on, while traveling together, they decided to check out the Marfa lights together.
The lights made such a lasting impression on the two that in 2008, they decided to rent a house in Marfa in hopes of producing some type of tribute to their experience. At the time, they were not sure if it would be in the form of music.
"We didn't entirely know why we had come to Marfa, except that we wanted to know what it was like to live alongside the phenomenon," they say.
The first thing that they came up with was an 8-minute compilation of mantras. Bechtolt and Evans decided to create the tribute around their own belief system after becoming interested in human rituals of esotericism and mysticism. Given pop music's tendency to feature repetitive elements, it was only natural for Bechtolt and Evans to mold the mantras into the tracks that make up See Mystery Lights
While the songs do contain Bechtolt and Evans' thoughts on topics such as heaven, hell, darkness, and light, they do not come off as commanding. YACHT do not go off on rants; instead, they hone in on catchy one-liners , such as "It's not a place you go/ It's a place that comes to you," on the song "The Afterlife."