Youth Lagoon's Battle with Illness to Create a Masterpiece

Trevor Powers Triumphs Over Adversity with New Album.

by Nouman Rasool
Youth Lagoon's Battle with Illness to Create a Masterpiece
© Jason Kempin/GettyImages

Trevor Powers, renowned for his musical project Youth Lagoon, faced a life-altering challenge following a seemingly harmless medical visit in October 2021. Prescribed a simple heartburn medication for a mild stomach ache, Powers could not have anticipated the severe adverse effects that ensued.

"My digestive system transformed into a mini volcano," he recounts, detailing symptoms that included vision problems and a body that would "go completely numb." The repercussions were devastating. Powers, once vibrant and expressive, found himself silenced, unable to sing or speak for months, relying on text messages to communicate even with visitors like his brother during Christmas.

Amidst the turmoil, Powers held onto a silver lining, documenting his ordeal with the resolve that it would yield profound lessons. This tenacity paid off. As his health gradually returned, Powers experienced a heightened appreciation for life's simple pleasures, from the feel of the wind to the richness of conversation.

Resurgence in Sound

His artistic resurgence came with the creation of "Heaven Is a Junkyard," a 2023 album hailed as one of the year's finest. In it, Powers threads his experiences of fragility and endurance into a tapestry of sound, blending his signature delicate piano with soothing bass lines that offer a lullaby-like solace.

Currently on an extensive tour across America, and soon to venture to the UK and Europe, Powers is riding the wave of creative and personal rebirth. His music remains deeply connected to his Boise, Idaho roots, a city that provides both a conservative backdrop and a wellspring of complex, heartfelt narratives that shape his work.

Powers's journey through music began in his restrictive, evangelical upbringing, where limited musical exposure left a void filled by his uncle Terry, who introduced him to alternative musical legends. This influence urged Powers to break free from convention, a theme that resonates through his work.

Despite the shutdown of Youth Lagoon in 2016 and subsequent solo releases, Powers's brush with illness has rekindled his connection to the moniker, leading to a profound exploration of his sound and soul on "Heaven Is a Junkyard." In his return to music, Powers not only channels his personal battles but also paints a picture of the world around him, drawing inspiration from Boise's diverse characters and landscapes.

From his 80-year-old piano teacher neighbor to the meth addict who keeps odd hours, Powers captures the essence of "upside-down Americana." With "Heaven Is a Junkyard" out now on Fat Possum Records, and his UK tour launching on November 12th in London at the Pitchfork music festival, Powers stands as a testament to resilience and the transformative power of limitations, finding creativity and eternity within the confines of hardship.