Poliça On Its New Album & Hunt For The World’s Best Bar

28_Polica_1Photographed by Sunny Shokrae. Illustrated by Ammiel Mendoza.
When we catch up with Poliça, the band just opened for The xx at Radio City and has another gig coming up in the same location. The concerts are two of the biggest shows the band's ever played, and its new album, Shulamith, hasn't even been released yet. And, while its live show is a four-piece, Poliça has as shadowy fifth member in the form of Ryan Olson, who produces the band and cowrites songs with singer Channy Leaneagh. It may be an unorthodox setup for an indie group, but it works for Poliça, who give Olson's atmospheric synth-pop life, both in the studio and on the road. Poliça stopped by Refinery29's office before its second outing with The xx ("One of our favorite bands," says drummer Drew Christopherson) to talk its gorgeous new record, Olson's role in the group, and the never-ending quest for the world's best cocktail bar.
Tropical Vibes
Channy Leaneagh: "Ryan was writing in Brazil for almost three quarters of the record. Sometimes I think it has more of a tropical, sunny feel than if he were writing from Minneapolis. I think about that, sometimes. It's warmer — a little happier-sounding."
Drew Christopherson: "Song by song, we might want to encapsulate a certain vibe, but not necessarily with the whole record. I do think that there are some songs on the new record where we intentionally tried to achieve a different dynamic than we did on the first. Or, it just so happened that this collection of songs was picked with a bigger palette of color."
Leaneagh: "I'm more into just writing something that feels good to me. I don't go into a record thinking 'I want to write a sad record, or a happy record, or a record about New York, or about my favorite book.' It's whatever feels right."
Radio City
Leaneagh: "We were playing Radio City last night as an opening band, playing all new songs. I have no idea how people should react — I'm not expecting anything out of them. The new songs went well, but in general, because this band writes with the live show in mind, it usually goes pretty much how much we imagined it would. I wasn't expecting the crowd to go, 'Woo! Oh, my god, I'm losing my mind!' More than anything, we just want to play new songs — we're very excited to be playing new material."
Chris Bierden: "We had developed our show quite a bit over the past year-and-a-half, so we wanted to bring that tightness together — that live feel from our shows. We were hoping that would translate for this album, and certainly it did for some songs."
28_Polica_2Photographed by Sunny Shokrae. Illustrated by Ammiel Mendoza.
Shulamith's Namesake
Leaneagh: "Like many things in my life, it's a regretful decision [laughs] — no, just kidding. It's named after this woman [Canadian feminist] Shulamith Firestone. At the moment of creating the record, we wanted to move forward, but not with vain pop-star distractions, fame, [or worrying about] being cool, fashionable, or writing hits. I wanted to name my record after an outcasted woman who died alone, who had brilliant things to say, who wrote a book with all the things I tried to say on this record lyrically."
Poliça's Quincy Jones
Christopherson: "It's kind of a strange band because of Ryan's element — he contributes the electronics and the basis of the songwriting with Channy. Personally, for my whole life, he's probably been my biggest musical inspiration as a person. To say that Ryan is our influence behind this project is true, and we're kind of in that same boat together. The music does very much start with his contribution. He's our Quincy Jones or George Martin."
Leaneagh: "It's great to do interviews, because we're like 'You have to ask Ryan,' but you can't ask Ryan. I think all of us — even Ryan — would say that you don't want to be influenced by anything too much. You don't want to steal from anything. But, you're also influenced by everything. You have millions of influences from the time you're born — Joni Mitchell or gospel music or funk. You're trying to create some order in the chaos by writing down all these sounds that are coming in your brain constantly, and creating something that's organized amongst all the noise you have."
The Perfect Drink
Christopherson: "We did find early on that one good way to find something fun to do was to find the best cocktail bar we can and just go to it. It's led us to some really cool places. Eau de Vie in Sydney, The Nightjar and Callooh Callay in London, the Vintage Cocktail Club in Dublin — wherever we were Jena, Germany, there was a great outdoor place there. We still haven't found the golden place in New York yet that can touch any of those."
All clothing by Denim & Supply by Ralph Lauren, available at Denim & Supply Ralph Lauren. On Drew: Red & Black Flannel Shirt, $79.50; Black Rosborough Slim Fit Denim, $ 89.50; Black Jersey Tee Shirt, $29.50; On Channy: LS Cardigan, $225; Brodsky Skinny Boyfriend, $125; On Chris: Faded Chambray Shirt, $ 69.50; Slim Fit Denim, $98; On Ben: Black Chambray Shirt, $98; Jefferson Slim Fit Denim, $185.

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