In 2016, Trevor Powers shut the door on Youth Lagoon. “I felt like I was in a chokehold,” he says. “Even though it was my music, I lost my way. In a lot of ways, I lost myself.”
Stepping back from the alias, Powers found personal transformation at his home in Idaho and released experimental tapes under his own name (2018’s Mulberry Violence and 2020’s Capricorn).
“My mind has always been a devil,” says Powers. “It tells me terrible things—like I’m worthless, ugly, or broken. It’s like a motel TV stuck on a channel that won’t shut off, with static and endless late-night ads and preachers screaming about the end of the world.”
In October 2021, something changed the channel.
After taking an over-the-counter medication, Powers had a drug reaction so severe it turned his stomach into a “non-stop geyser of acid,” coating his larynx and vocal cords for eight months. “I saw seven doctors and multiple specialists. I lost over thirty pounds. No one could help me,” says Powers. By Christmas, he could no longer speak, turning to text messages and a pen and paper as his only ways to communicate. “I wasn’t sure if I’d ever be able to speak again, yet alone sing,” he says.
“It all felt symbolic in a way,” he adds. “I’d been swallowing fear all my life and now here it was coming back up. I used to think God watches people suffer. Now I know She suffers with you. That changed everything.”
The growth that followed that nightmare narrowed Powers’ focus. Rather than writing about the world at large, he started writing about home. “Family, neighbors, and grim reapers,” laughs Powers. “I’ve always written about far away things. That was my way of running from home. But the best material has been right in front of me this whole time in Idaho.”
With whispers of country, Heaven Is a Junkyard is mutant Americana in a world of love, drugs, storytelling, and miracles—held together by Powers’ voice and an upright piano. “If a lyric wasn’t right, a song wasn’t right,” says Powers, who scrapped two-and-a-half albums worth of material because it “wasn’t honest.”
“Heaven Is a Junkyard is about all of us. It’s stories of brothers leaving for war, drunk fathers learning to hug, mothers falling in love, neighbors stealing mail, cowboys doing drugs, friends skipping school, me crying in the bathtub, dogs catching rabbits, and children playing in tall grass,” says Powers.