YACHT to play anti-NSA rally in Washington D.C.

On October 26, the Rally Against Mass Surveillance is being held in Washington D.C. A broad coalition groups, from Demand Progress, Mozilla and EFF to Stop Watching Us and the Center for Democracy and Technology are organizing the event. Once assembled, the coalition plans to deliver a half-million petitions to Congress calling for an end to mass electronic surveillance.

But, this isn’t just going to be a big rally with wonky talk. A bunch of bands are going to be in attendance, too. While we’re still awaiting the rally’s complete list of live acts, YACHT’s Claire Evans took some time to talk to me about the duo’s stance on surveillance, and how they got involved with the rally in the first place.

YACHT’s involvement started last month with a song called “Party at the NSA,” which was as good a way as any to insert (or re-insert) the issue into the consciousness of music fans who may or may not be following the NSA and surveillance debates.

“The song is, obviously, a direct send-up of the NSA,” said Evans. “We released it online ourselves, selling the MP3 in exchange for donations to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), who litigate on behalf of the public interest against the government and the corporations that collude with it.”

“The EFF has been really supportive and engaged with us on this project, and when they asked us to participate in the rally, it seemed like a natural fit,” added Evans.


While Evans is attuned to cyber-issues of past, present and future as editor-in-chief of OMNI Reboot, and contributor at Motherboard, she says this is the first time that Yacht has done anything political on this scale.

“We come from DIY communities in the northwest, and have always adhered to the personal-is-political thing: live your life like the revolution is already won, book your own damn life,” Evans said. “But the unwarranted surveillance of private citizens is beyond what we feel comfortable standing by on. It can be easy to disconnect about the economy, about wars abroad, about growing social injustice of all kinds, but the Internet is a sacred space, the great equalizer of our time—and the reason that we, as artists, have managed to sustain a career. It feels very personal for us.”

Evans and Jona Bechtolt clearly realized the revolution hadn’t already been won on the mass scale; that Internet and phone surveillance, metadata mining and other state violations of the Fourth Amendment threaten to disrupt and infect, like a virus, the DIY spaces of the Internet. And while the Rally Against Mass Surveillance might sound like a nervy, make-or-break stand against America’s worst Big Brother tendencies, she wants people to know that ideally good vibe should wind its way through the rallying masses.

“We want to have fun at the Rally Against Mass Surveillance,” said Evans, invoking YACHT’s reputation for creating fun, dynamic and trippy live performances. “To create a party at the NSA’s expense while simultaneously doing something active—raising money and awareness—in the fight against it.”

If Yacht isn’t already on the NSA’s map, well their anti-surveillance pied piping come October 26th certainly will put them there. This, of course, is great political refreshment when the music world so often behaves apolitically; as if the need to preserve careers and maintain ideologically neutral publicity is more important. Given YACHT’s cyberpunk and surrealist leanings, their RAMC set seems the only natural move they could make.

“A lot of people are subconsciously deterred from involvement in these kinds of issues because the very thought of what is actually happening in this country makes them anxious, and they’d rather ignore it,” added Evans. “We want to reframe that impulse, giving people an engaging, spontaneous, expressive context for protest.”

Stop Watching Us posted a Rally Against Mass Surveillance Indiegogo campaign for those interested in donating. 

Images courtesy of Yacht.