Poliça are a hard band to pin down… to put it mildly. They are an off-shoot of GAYNGS… a side-project consisting of members of Bon Iver, The Rosebuds, Megafaun, Doomtree, Solid Gold, and Leisure Birds… among others. At the core of Poliça are GAYNGS vocalist Channy Leaneagh and producer Ryan Olson. The two have been writing together since last summer and have since enlisted the help of drummers Ben Ivascu and Drew Christopherson and bassist Chris Bierdan.
Poliça’s sound is the product of Olson’s penchant for pop and interest in progressive electronics, paired with Leaneagh, whose vocals have shifted from that of the folk genre to what is now more in the realm of postmodern R&B. AOL Spinner says “Poliça deals in a type of R&B inflected electronic music that defies explanation. What can be said is that music with this many synthetic textures and vocal treatments has rarely sounded so natural.” And Nylon has described their “Lay Your Cards Out,” featuring Bon Iver’s Mike Noyce as a “Swilry combination of layered rhythms, some awesomely manipulated vocals, and a dragged-out, slow motion feel…the perfect soundtrack to an almost-winter weekend”
Poliça’s debut, Give You the Ghost, hits shelves today and, for those of you craving the live experience, Poliça will be at Kung Fu Necktie on March 24th. I recently talked with Channy about her latest project, its influences, its short-term goals, and its ultimate fantasies.
Izzy Cihak: Your debut album, Give You the Ghost, drops on Valentine’s Day. Do you have any general thoughts on V-Day or how your sound could fit the holiday?
Channy Leaneagh: Valentine’s Day is (should be) Cupid, finding a broken heart and shooting the wandering, solitary soul with an arrow that poisons them to fall in love with their matching wandering, solitary soul. This record was written in the mood of a lonely lady and I believe it to be heavily effective in luring lovers, sending off pheromone sound waves, and softening a cynical heart. That’s a good thing for Valentine’s Day and a good thing for everyday.
IC: Your sound has drawn comparisons to “Folk,” “R&B,” “Electro,” and “Goth,” pretty diverse genres. What particular artists influence each of you? You all have somewhat different backgrounds.
CL: We all have very different taste in music and knowledge of music history. I have learned loads from this band already on tour, listening to people’s playlists. Ben Ivascu rocks Van Halen, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, and generally all the goodness of 90’s rock n’ roll. He plays in over 6 bands and he is constantly practicing, performing. or working. This February he will play in all three bands when Poliça goes out with Marijuan Deathsquads and Total Fucking Blood. Chris Bierden is mostly influenced by such great teachers as Paul McCartney and Robert “Pops” Popswell. Drew Chrostopherson is a co-owner of Totally Gross national Product Record label and has a huge knowledge of music and is sort of an advocate for the Minneapolis music scene. He is madly in love with Bill Callahan. I can’t keep up at all with the dudes in my band and am usually asking them “Who’s this again?” I personally have always been most interested in singers and what they can do with their voice and so I am influenced by tons of singers from Indian classical to R&B.
IC: Are there any non-musical influences that you find to be especially significant?
CL: The biggest inspiration for me on this record was Ryan Olson’s beats — that’s pretty much all I listened to during the making of this record. I like to keep my head pretty melodically concentrated when I’m writing — keep my brain wrapped around the tracks until they get the job done. The next big influence for this record was the environment & mood I wrote Give You the Ghost inside of: lonely, lusty, and strange, inside smoke-filled room, steaming with summer heat, writing sessions going till 6 am, manic delirium, self-hatred at its finest, paranoia and thrashing away at love and happiness.
IC: Polica is sort of a “side-project” of GAYNGS, which is also sort of a “side-project,” so I’m inclined to ask if there are any “side-projects” of music history that you find to be more interesting than the project that the individual members are most famous for.
CL: I guess I prefer Lauryn Hill after the Fugees and Amel Larrieux after Groove Theory.
IC: In your short career you’ve already been known for the people/friends you have enticed into collaborating with you. Do you have any musicians that would be fantasy (or maybe not so fantasy) collaborators?
CL: Can I dream big here? Quincy Jones, Pete Rock, Jamie XX. Most of all though, I’m hoping my brother will sing some songs with me someday.
IC: 2012 is your first real year in the public. What are your hopes and goals for the year?
CL: Finish the next Poliça record and give mind blowing performances.
IC: I’m not sure if you realize it, but the night that you’re playing Philadelphia (at Kung Fu Necktie) the legendary Psychic TV will be taking the stage a block away (at Johnny Brenda’s) about an hour after your set wraps up. Do you have any thoughts on the seminal electronic outfit or anything that you would tell fans of yours or theirs to encourage them to make the evening an amazing double-header (I’ll certainly be at both shows.)?
CL: Thanks for suggesting that idea — I will do that!