Interview

Polica

Polica

By Courtney Sanders

Sunday 30th December, 2012 8:51AM

Polica are an alternative electronic project from Minneapolis, Minnesota, who released their debut album Give you the Ghost earlier this year and have been riding a wave of international success ever since. UTR caught up with front woman Channy Leaneagh to discuss the whirlwind that was their 2012, what they're working on at the moment, and their sophomore album.

Hey there, what are you up to at the moment?

Weíre just at home relaxing. I leave tomorrow to go record vocals on the record but the rest of the band is just relaxing after a really long year.

So are you working on a new album at the moment?

Yes, we are.

From the beginning: I understand you and other members of Polica were in other projects before this, tell us how you came together for this.

A couple of the members knew each other for a long time in Wisconsin and Minneapolis and then they both played in a band called Marijuana Death Squad and then I played in a band Gayngs which was one of Ryanís (Olsen's) projects, and thatís where I met him. He and I got to know each other through that and we were talking about working on music together Ė Ryan is kind of known for working on lots of different projects at the same time.

So him and I started hanging out and he played me a bunch of beats which I really liked. People around town in Minneapolis were playing it and we were just kind of sitting on it and then it got picked up by a manager in town and it just came out at a good time when people were like "you should make this happen and turn this into a band". And thatís the story of Polica.

Did you have an idea of the sound you wanted to achieve when you started out?

I didnít because that record is just a documentation of two people getting to know each other and reacting to each other. Heíd play me these beats and Iíd just react to them Ė I didnít have a grand vision in my mind for what I wanted it to sound like, I was just reacting to the way these beats sounded on first instinct. It was like ďIím going to make this sound R&BĒ or anything like that. I was in Gayngs at the time and it was me being like ďI want to learn this pedal more so Iím going to mess around with it while weíre writing this recordĒ. There was nothing manufactured or no grand theme.

Now that the album is a finished product can you see any theme or sound that holds the album together, that you perhaps didn't notice at the time of writing and recording?

Yeah I think that when you donít have a set goal and when youíre not trying to make anything in particular, what is going to come out is your background. The music that you listen to when you were younger is your first language and so it's going to pop out of you. Thereís an acting out of your subconscious where youíre just doing your first instinct, and itís going to be pulled from your history with music.

For me the songwriting on this record is pretty traditional, it speaks to my background in traditional Americana music even though itís an electronic-y record. The songwriting was similar to folk or blues songwriting I guess. And in that way it connects itself to R&B because thatís what I listen to a lot, so I think those kind of things come out of that way of writing.

You mentioned you were recording a second album. Was your approach different this time or was it the same sort of organic process?

It was similar in that Ryan and I hung out and listened to the beats and I just sang over them, but itís different in a sense that weíre starting to perform some of them live so the band is getting to know them really well before we record them actually. Also Iím getting to spend a lot more time with them: after Ryan and I play around with them and Iíll go back into my writing space and be alone with them for a long time. A lot of them are really familiar to me so theyíre different in that sense. For example now I sing on a lot of the older songs in a different way than I originally did.

It sounds like you guys have a pretty intrinsic creative partnership: is is a pretty special bond that you guys have?

Yeah it is and I think thatís why we keep on doing it. I barely see him any more or work on music anymore because Iím gone too much and he works on other projects but it is really amazing.

Whenever you share your experience with someone else - and similarly with Gayngs - and when you have a project that started out with an experiments it's a really special bonding experience.

Is there a strong scene Minneapolis or Minnesota, where you guys are from?

Yeah gosh Iím never home so Iím a little bit out of touch. There are a lot of great venues here and a lot of productive musicians and artists here, without a music industry. Itís not New York, it would be very odd if someone from a record label was at one your shows - people make music and go to shows to enjoy the community without the business aspect. So you have a lot of people who are in different bands and a lot of people who are working their straight jobs and trying to make music too. Itís really creative and vibrant and very community-oriented and supportive. There's also a healthy dose of competition which keeps it going but in an encouraging and loving way. Itís got lots of different scenes and lots of room for people to find a place. Itís very much mid-Western, itís very simple and unpretentious.

You mentioned that the industry doesnít really exist in Minnesota. Arguably the industry has picked up Polica and thrust you guys onto the international stage: does it feel weird to have that happened?

It is very weird and you feel weird even leaving and going outside of your community and are like ďwhy are you picked outĒ when there are so many other great bands from home. It feels pretty mystical and odd - I canít quite wrap my head around why I was picked out and other people werenít because there are so many talented people here. Itís just weird because everybodyís been making music in this group for a long time and now itís like ďwell I guess itís kind of a jobĒ. Itís also so mind-blowingly amazing and a blessing and weíre so grateful so, yeah, Iím happy to have a job and Iíll keep doing it!

At the same time itís difficult and weird to wrap your head around it, you must have had some amazing experiences this year: is there anything that stands out as a highlight?

I think playing London and playing a really good show was amazing. Also places like Antwerp which Iíve read about and all a sudden Iím there and Iím playing. I also played on the Baltic Sea Coast in Germany and itís like ďoh my gosh, how did I get to the Baltic SeaĒ. But to tell you the truth all of us are very excited and feel very honoured to get to come to New Zealand and Australia because that is one of those places where youíre like ďoh man I wish someday I could go to New ZealandĒ but itís probably never going to happen. It sounds like the most beautiful place on earth and now weíre going there! Actually I had a violin professor who was from New Zealand too!

What are you excited about achieving in 2013?

Weíre going to be touring a lot and besides that I plan to take it a day at a time. I'm going to try to pour myself into and really focus on making good songs right now and that's about it. We want to work on our live shows maybe get some fancy stuff on stage but apart from that just keep on touring.


related gigs
Laneway Festival 2013
Mon 28th Jan, Silo Park, Auckland


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