Polica Live In Studio
Live Music Week happens bi-annually at WERS to raise money to keep our station running. We ask if you can pledge your support in order to keep us live on air, bringing you live performances from your favorite musicians. Pledges can be made here.
Polica have a unique setup, but when they stopped through our studio for a live mix, the setup was even moreso than usual. The four piece consists of a singer, bassist, and two drummers. Their sound swaps the guitar-heavy sound we hear everyday for a lighter, melodic vibe, giving Polica a unique advantage in a music scene that is overflowing with new bands. Singer Channy Leaneagh was the only one to join us in studio from the group though, creating an even more simple sound for WERS listeners.
“This is actually the first time I’ve ever played without my band,” Leaneagh said. “It feels a little weird without them.” The sounds listeners heard came solely from an electronic, pre-recorded set of sounds and Leaneagh’s voice. These sounds, which range from sparkling twinkles to revereased bass-like beats, gave the songs structure without the heart-pumping blood the two drums provide.
First up was “Lay Your Cards Out”, a haunting and deep electronic song that faded like an accordion before notes swirled in reverse, creating a sound that’s hard to peg. Leaneagh closed her eyes while singing, her left scratching the air like she was tapping a drum or blindly reorganizing something.
“Wandering Star” was also a more mellow version than on their album, Give Up the Ghost, and gave listeners the chance to really focus on her vocals and not just the effects. “I like both [our live sound and album sound]. I don’t like one over the other, but I like recording a lot. Performing is just part of the job.” The layered vocals sound like wind in October right, suiting perfectly for Live Music Week.
Leaneagh bravely ended her solo performance in our studio with “Leading to Death”, a song that is very reliant on drums to pull off it’s goosebump-raising ending. But as the organ-like fuzz came and grew louder to fill in for the drums — somewhat like a droning, Pixies-like keyboard reminiscent of “Where Is My Mind” — the song reached its climactic crescendo perfectly.
Give Up The Ghost, which came out in January of this year, has been constantly spinning in a several of our earbuds here at WERS. When asked about the album and how it was made, Leaneagh broke down the creative process for us. “This record was super quick because the beats were all done. I don’t like to spend a lot of time recording; I like to do things instinctually. There are some songs that require more time, and you just treat each one like a different child.”
That care came across as Leaneagh took special care in which microphones she was using in our studio and the amount of reverb used on the electronic beats. That’s because they aim to “bring out the other instruments, but also not have it be too crowded.” By avoiding the use of guitars, Polica safely avoid that crowded sound.
“The beats are pretty melodic — I’m the guitar in the band, in that sense. The bass player and I can move a little bit more freely over everything because we don’t have to compete with guitar,” explained Leaneagh. “It keeps everything simple.”
Simple as it was, Polica’s in-studio performance set everyone at ease with the smooth vocals and beats but kept our eyes open for what Leaneagh would do next. For a band that’s buzz is continually growing (and keeping them surprised), Leaneagh braved her solo set with poise, confidence, and a truly wonderful sound.
By Nina Corcoran
Photo by Libby Webster