When Justin Vernon (BON IVER) says “I’ve been listening to this band POLIÇA from Minneapolis a lot lately. They’re the best band I’ve ever heard” a lot of people said “Who are they? Who are POLIÇA?” At least so did I. Some days later I checked them out and fell in love within only a few seconds. Maybe “the best band I’ve ever heard” is an exaggeration, but isn’t it all about exaggerations when it comes to music, especially when it comes to new music. When musicians go new paths there are not so many possibilities. One might be to exaggerate to get attention. In the case of POLIÇA it is definitely no exaggeration when it is said that they might be the best new band in 2012 and it is definitely no exaggeration when it is said that their debut-album, Give You The Ghost, is one of the best albums of this year – maybe even the best.
11 perfectly formed auto-tuned songs that re-shape the intersection of pop and digitized R&B. And for all POLIÇA‘s synthetic manipulation, Channy’s soft vocals and Ryan’s electronic soundscapes reveal a tender heart beneath, pulsating with life and raw emotion. Give You The Ghost opens with the amazing first track Amongster (watch the video below). Within a short time both drummers (yes TWO drummers!) start to play and come into full effect as it builds to a heady mass of beats, bass and Channy’s wandering vocals. And when Channy sings “apologies like the birds in the sky and even they are falling like the tears in my eyes. Everyone’s asking, everyone’s asking”, you know that this band is not only one that plays amazing music, even their lyrics are very in-depth.
The album was born out of the break-up of a recent relationship and so it comes that the majority of Give You The Ghost reflects the difficulty of facing up to mistakes and making peace with them. Kind of an exorcism via exciting new musical possibilities. “The recurring theme of this record is ‘what in the hell just happened and who in the hell am I anyways’” says Channy. This redemptive mood is key for the track Dark Star, released online late last year amidst a viral whirlwind. Backed by smooth brass breakdowns throughout and mid-tempo loping rhythms, it’s typical of POLIÇA‘s often meditative content fused with the addictive refrain “Ain’t a man who can pull me down from my Dark Star”.
So let’s sum up: a new band that releases an more-than-amazing debut-album. Two drummers amd a voice full of effects (which even uses auto-tune effect in a great way!) – enough reasons to ask them some questions. So we took the chance and did it.
You are using special effects to give your voice a certain expression. JAMES BLAKE used this kind of adaptation, too. Even more significantly, IMOGEN HEAP has already applied this technique many years ago. And in terms of mood your music reminds a bit of THE XX. What are your main-influences – and why and how do they influence you?
Channy- We all have very different taste in music and what I suppose are our influences. I have learned loads from this band already on tour listening to people’s playlists. Ben Ivascu rocks VAN HALEN, LED ZEPPELIN, BLACK SABBATH & generally all the goodness off 90’s rock’n’roll. He plays in over 6 bands and he is constantly practicing, performing or working. Chris Bierden is mostly influenced by such great teachers as PAUL McCARTNEY and ROBERT “POP” POPSWELL. Drew Christopherson 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.
Concerning the voice-effects – keyword: auto-tune – you showed proof how marvelously auto-tune can indeed be applied, since it gives your music some kind of futuristic concept. How did this idea originate and what does a typical POLIÇA songwriting process look like? Who is responsible for your writings?
Channy- In the beginning of this writing process when we first started working on songs, I never had an internal discussion about whether I should or should not use vocal effects. When I came in to work with Ryan he already had the tracks done. The foundation for the tracks on the POLIÇA record comes from beats Ryan had written ten years earlier for other bands: DIGITATA and MEL GIBSON AND THE PANTS, who he had produced for in the early 2000s. So I didn’t have anything to do with the way the tracks sound. He added some things afterwards, and so did I — I added violin to Amongster and Wandering Star — then the bass player wrote his parts and the drummers worked with Ryan to compose their parts. My contribution is really just the lyrics and the vocal melodies. Now as we move to the next record, I’ve been laying down some very simple piano parts that he’s been building the tracks off of, but most of the best stuff comes from what he just makes on his own.
Two drums: very impressive. How did you come up with this idea? And even more broadly: how did POLIÇA come into being? Is it more a conceptualized project or did it develop all “naturally” in the course of your band history?
Channy- The decision for two drummers came about after me and Ryan got the foundation of the song down and Ryan was already having real clear visions for the final sound and live show and it had to include the two drummers and Chris Bierden (on bass). This band came together from the time Ryan and I spent hanging out in between Gayngs tours. I asked him if he’d want to flesh out some songs I’d written that needed a bigger vision.
What can we expect from POLIÇA within the next months?
Channy- We are busy building a good home for POLIÇA to live in and looking forward to the future with a batch of new songs (that will be coming out in the not so distant future) and we are going to be touring lots, making our way to Europe for the first time.
We are happy that had the chance to talk to Channy and wish POLIÇA all the best! By the way: The name POLIÇA refers to the word ‘policy’, meaning a definite course of action adopted for the sake of expediency, suggesting they were formed out of necessity. And this is exactly how Give You The Ghost feels and sounds: urgent, original and genre defying. POLIÇA are one of the bands that will make it big in 2012. Without any doubt.
from Minneapolis, Minnesota. USA