Polica — probably our very favorite new band — spun records in our New York lobby this month during a tour to celebrate their new album (as illustrated in Fig. 1, below). The band’s ecstatically bleak and revelatory sound has gained them a fast and rapt diaspora of fans. As you can see in this short documentary from Pitchfork, it’s all been very fast and furious, so we were blessed to get a few moments with frontwoman Channy Leaneagh to ask some of our most pressing questions.
As listeners, we experience your music for the most part as a finished product, whereas you’re along for the ride from the start. Where and how do you work and what is your collaborative process like?
To conceive the song I love lots of quiet solitude. I like an empty house and to be able to experiment and try without another ear to listen in on. In Poliça, Ryan Olson is the only one who I give a pass to since he’s the other half of the song. That being said, some of my favorte songs are ones that just came with a room full of people at a studio…the unpredictability of songwriting is the best part.
Paul Valery wrote that “a poem is never finished, only abandoned.” The point at which humans are pencils-down on creative work is so subjective and instinctive — how do you decide when a song is ‘finished’?
I decide when a song is finished lyrically because it captured the emotion or the moment it set out to at the time….after months of performing it, the song can find a new identity. I don’t know honestly if I know when a song is done…it may not be but the final recorded document will haunt you for the rest of your life if it is in fact not complete.
What and who inspires you?
The human condition inspires me more than anything else I suppose. Understanding myself but also the people around me and beyond. I am also inspired to write because it makes me feel good. Writing a feeling into a melody and than singing it is the most effective drug against depression and hating life.
What was the process of evolving form Gayngs to Polica together? They are two very different sounds — how was this new direction found?
Polica came out of Ryan and I meeting in Gayngs and also the vocal processing came out of my work in Gayngs (I used the same pedal in both bands). Gayngs and Polica are both part of the “family tree” of Ryan Olson’s many projects and bands…they are two different sounds but they are both very much a part of each other.
Tell us about a new friend you made on tour.
I didn’t really become friends with anyone in my band until we started touring together. So that’s four new friends. And our tour manager Robin, she’s a new friend. The best thing about touring is seeing old friends that have moved to LA or New York, etc., that I see more now that I come to their cities to play.
Listening and creating are equally trippy experiences. Do you have any synesthesic imagery or associations when you’re playing music?
No, I should get some.