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Their appropriately named Give You The Ghost is one of the year’s most haunting debuts. Polica’s Channy Leaneagh discusses the heartache behind the record and how it feels to be championed by Jay-Z and Bon Iver.
Ed Power, 15 Jun 2012
Polica’s Channy Leaneagh has a faraway glaze in her eyes. We’re discussing her band’s remarkable debut album, 40 minutes of processed ennui over which she ululates like someone whose heart is being broken in real time. The melancholy isn’t a put on. Last year her marriage fell apart, and with it Roma Di Luna, the folk outfit she fronted alongside her husband Alexei Casselle. Polica is her chance to grieve.
“There is always a personal thing inside any song,“ she says, a lump in her throat. “On this record it wasn’t self-conscious. I was singing the first thing that came to mind. A lot of the lyrics and vocal melodies were things I came up with on the spot. We pressed ‘record’ and laid it down.”
From the relative musical backwater of Minneapolis, Minnesota, Polica, founded last summer by Channy and multi-instrumentalist Ryan Olson, are getting to be a big deal. Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon is a cheerleader, along with Jay-Z who posted the video to single ‘Lay Your Cards Out’ to his blog. Though success is welcome, for Channy there’s a bitter undertow as it means spending more time away from her daughter.
“It’s very difficult, it makes me sad,” she rues. “I try not to drink too much on the road because being away from my kid gets me down. At the same time, this is a job. Since she was born I’ve set her up with a community of people who fill her with life. She’s certainly well taken care of when I’m gone.”
On Give You The Ghost, Channy’s vocal are heavily Auto-Tuned so that they sound not quite human. Such otherworldliness is part of Polica’s raison d’etre. Channy wanted her voice to sound as much an instrument as anything else on the record.
“It adds the ability to bend notes, so that what you end you with is more an instrument than a voice. When we’re playing shows, it gives me the option of doing different things. It makes everything more fun. It’s a quality that fits the electronic aesthetic of the band and, so, is appealing to me.”