Calling early on a Tuesday morning – 7 AM – to manage a vast time difference, to discuss a new collaborative album with S T A R G A Z E, Music for the Long Emergency, I couldn't help but feel sorry for badgering Poliça's Channy Leaneagh as she, presumably, just awoke. I needn't have worried.

Hey, how ya doin? I gotta admit to feeling bad for calling so early.

I'm already usually up at 5:30 because I have kids – I have no life of my own. (Laughs)

(Laughs) Fair enough. I'm actually calling from Korea, I don't know if you realize that.

I heard! Yeah, researching K-pop?

Always. So, moving on to something relevant (laughs) – starting with the basics, with how long you all have been operating, why a collaboration now? Why did it come about when it did?

It's not as dramatic as...or, there's not really as much behind it beyond that there's a really great program in St. Paul that partners, usually like non-classical with classical people to create new works. Just for a performance – it was just supposed to be a collaboration for a single performance, and then, you know, whatever: all of a sudden it becomes a record.

So it wasn't originally even intended to be a record?

No, it was literally for one night of music, and we really fell in love with each other. We loved working with each other, we spent some time in Berlin, also at this festival called Funkhaus People Festival. The People Festival, sorry, and sort of work-shopped the material there; and just the more time we spent with each other, the more we thought the project could, well, needed to be recorded, I guess.

That's awesome.

I wasn't so much that person, but the producers and Andre [de Ridder, of S T A R G A Z E] wanted it to have a life. So yeah, that's kind of where it came from: someone matchmaked us, put us together, and it just created a friendship, and then it turned into these songs.

That's great, I didn't realize it was so organic. So how did you guys originally get acquainted with S T A R G A Z E, just through this exchange program, or were you familiar at all prior?

I hadn't heard of them before, [a contact] from Aspen asked them if there's anyone they wanted to work with, and they mentioned us, among other groups, and we were from St. Paul, so it worked out really well. They've worked on a lot of different stuff, you might not have known their name, but probably heard them on several projects, and they're all working on the side, on ten different projects themselves.

Damn. So, for long time Poliça listeners, I'm sure it will be clear that this project brought something quite different out of you – out of both acts – so how would you describe the change in sound for Poliça here?

Huh. I would almost say they're, oddly, almost more straightforward pop songs. Or, only that they're sweeter. There's a sweetness to at least four of the tracks, and that might have come from me, all of us, writing to songs with strings, and horns, and this different kind of palette. Also, less drums, everyone being more gentle. Drew and Ben, who are the drummers for Poliça, intentionally playing more electronic pads, drums, and triggers. It became sort of this gentle space because we all were writing “live” in the sense that we were writing together. When it came to the instrumentation, we were all trying to listen to each other, so a tenderness grew into some of the stuff.

I definitely think there's some material coming from the opposite end of the spectrum, as well.

Right, then, there's 'Curse' and 'Marrow' that are more intense. Honestly, I'm not very good at describing music at all.

I think it's tough for most of us. For myself, I've definitely thought of you guys as “drum heavy”, so I was quick to pick up on the, I don't want to say minimized role here – anyway, speaking of the 'sweetness' of the songs, I found a lot intimacy going on in this album, and it seems a lot of the press, or maybe just the hype, for the record is framing it in relation to Trump, and as a political album, and I'm not saying that isn't there, but it felt more emotional to me than political.

I just wanna smack my head at how things get framed. I hurts. (laughs) It hurts, but I guess everybody is trying to give the record a story, and we came out with the first song, 'How is This Happening?', but I guess it is important to know it was written the night of the election. It is a reaction to that, but in other ways, a lot of it...well, on 'Speaking of Ghosts' actually has a sample of my, at the time, nine or ten month old son, who was on the road with us at the time that we were making this record. That song's all about how you feel...I don't know, this stuff is so personal that it's hard for me to even talk about it. The isolation of motherhood, how it's sort of just you and this baby all the time. You're kind of speaking to a ghost, yet the love is so intense.

Right, I almost see the emotional aspects of the album as more prominent than the 'doomed days' perspective it's being presented under.

Yes! And 'Fake Like' is basically a love letter to my partner, about how we began and the story of us. So a lot of it is absolutely very personal, those are just the lyrics, but in general, for all of us, it was just about this budding friendship and relationship between S T A R G A Z E and Poliça. It's tenderness of listening to each other, and trying to create something that wasn't just one band. We had this horrible, not be used title for the project of Poligaze – which is just embarrassing, but it felt like we became one band. That's the really the story of the songs and the performances.

Did you see your respective vibes as natural fits going into recording?

As a person who loves classical music, and that's probably what I'm listening to most on my “devices” or what ever you wanna call 'em, I loved...the record to me is also just like a lot of excitement in being able to meld together these two sounds and breathe new life into our band with instruments that I love, an aspect that hadn't been there before in Poliça. So – doubling back – it's not a political record: because that would be a disservice to a political record. (laughs)

So, since you already went into a bit, would you say a lot of the record is autobiographical, or is some of intended to take on current culture at large?

I guess I'm a nonfiction fantasy writer. I love books, I love reading, and I'm grateful that I have people that let me sing these stories over music that they make. A lot of them are just versions of my own life – but everything is not necessarily true. My favorite writer, Elena Ferrante, who doesn't even do interviews, so you don't get to know if it's true or false. It's probably a melding of lots of true and made up things, but there's a song like 'Marrow', which is a direct observation of the world around me. Then 'How is This Happening?' is more a take on how everyone was feeling. The joy of it is that I'm not...I don't, you know, sell a lot of records. I'm not a pop star, so if I can't seem to write songs that aren't about myself, it's ok, I just get to keep on doing that. (laughs)

You led into this one for me, what were you reading during recording? Ferrante?

Oh gosh, that's so hard to know, because I wrote this right after having my baby, it was the first year of his life and my brain was...just in a different place. I read a lot of Ferrante after the record was made. Hmm...that's a good question, what was I reading? I just can't remember that time in my life. Oh! I know, Maggie Nelson, The Argonauts, and I think I read I Love Dick during that time, too.

Alright, perhaps slightly related, a friend instructed me I had to ask: who are your favorite modern feminists? A doozy for ya.

Oh, wow. This is kind of controversial, not super modern, but I'm just listening to that podcast, off and on, about Benazir Bhutto, she really had quite the life. She was the first woman to be pregnant, and give birth, in office. Um...oh god. There's so many good choices. I love some of the women writing, like Issa Rae [of Insecure], she's creating a new wave for women in shows. I really like Rihanna. (laughs)

Don't we all?

She's pretty much Queen of the world.

'Needed Me' is just the anthem. The James Blake sample, it's almost like the wails of the men she's defeated. (laughs)

That is...ugh, probably one of my favorite songs of all time. You put that on, and you just feel like freedom when you sing along to it. 'Nothing is Promised' with Mike Will, too! I like that she's never really stuck with a partner, male or female, she just stays single and solid. Not that being single is a sign of feminism, but the independence.

Ok, so I have to ask what is 'the long emergency'? Is it Trump?

It's just something that Poliça, we only like to travel in fifteen passenger vans, because we like to talk on these long rides from show to show, and we're always talking about the long emergency. And that take is a reference from a book of the same title, about peak oil. I was a part of a neighborhood group, based off the book, that would try to figure out ways to live off of oil, and depend on your community, this person grows vegetables, this person grows fruit – but we would all reference it as a joke, or not even a joke, but it was a main part of our discussion, 'what are you gonna do in the long emergency?' Making art, as part of the creative class, people should really stop doing cocaine and partying all the time and start (laughs) building a trench.


It was a constant conversation of 'what is your place and position as an artist?' Also, what is the place of love? Amidst everything you still have mundane feelings like crushes or you don't like your partner anymore, you're falling out of love and yet the world is...capitalism is destroying us all and we're all a part of it, and how just continue to, like, focus on these teenage kind of issues when we have the possibility to...well, it's easy to feel like everything is crashing down.

It almost becomes arbitrary.

Yes, but, obviously people in other time periods have felt the same way. So just, what's the place of music and art? Trying to make stuff sincerely even if nobody is listening. Does anybody care?

I've witnessed some of the extreme sides of that, being here. Over in the States, Trump makes a Tweet, and people groan, but here people are living right next to his dick-measuring contest, and it's a very real fear for them.

Yeah, I can't imagine. I was going to ask you if we had some time, it's terrifying that this thing that could have been used for great...that Twitter, it has capabilities to bring people together for resistance, but now it's created this chaos, and it's a weapon for this tyrannical leader that we have, who can change the world with an immature and careless Tweet, and we have no control over it. It's bizarre, and you're really getting to see it. I'm curious how their music scene will be changed.

It's bizarre because the music is so sunny and glossy, but within that you can see the fear. The way the attitude has changed from Obama to Trump is just astounding, we've gone from loved to frightening idiots. It goes without saying but it's still sad to see.

Yeah, I'm really hoping that North and South Korea...the Olympics will be interesting, I'm really hoping that the rest of the world will come together in spite of us, and forget about us. (laughs)

He is 'helping' in that regard, they don't take us seriously anymore, and helping them all agree that they don't like us.

Right, which is scary for us, but we've done such horrible stuff in the world, our government, it's our time. The karma gavel is coming down. Hopefully it'll all burn. You get selfish because it's frightening for what will happen to everyone living here, but you also just...want it to die. You want our influence to just die and go away.

I hear that. Ok, so, we got off on a tangent, but back to the album: I was reading that you all initially collaborated over email before meeting, is that right?

Yeah, that doesn't seem that special anymore, does it? We were lucky that all of it was really serendipitous, that Andre's schedule would allow him to come to Minneapolis and listen to songs with Ryan [Olsen, of Poliça] and I, to make sure it wasn't just one band's personality starting the songs. Listening to music that we wanted it to be like – or not like – and I can't even remember what that stuff was, but we listened to some Kill the Vultures. Andre's son was a huge fan, and one of the songs, 'Cursed', came to feature Crescent Moon, the writer for Kill the Vultures, and my ex-husband. So, some of our first meetings were just listening to some things.

From there?

Then Ryan and I came to Berlin, because we were promoting United Crushers. So we'd go to Berlin for shows, and then we'd then we'd have dinner at Andre's house and all of S T A R G A Z E would bring their instruments and play to some of the beats Ryan had made. Then there happened to be this festival in Berlin that we all got invited to, and they gave us space to practice: a lot of this project happened because of the kindness of people. Obviously there's not really funding behind this, so a lot of it was people finding us places to practice and write, it was pretty organic.

So how late in the process were you writing the lyrics, did they came after the music?

They came pretty quick, except for 'Cursed', which took me a while to write to, I'm still not sure if I know the words for that one. (laughs) But everything else, I wasn't writing it when we were in Berlin, I was kind of done. Ryan had fleshed out beats enough where I could write to it, the melodies caught me quickly. It was mostly written before we first started, but of course, some changed once we all got together and I realized I needed to say it a bit differently for the strings. It was fun!

Do you guys think you'll collaborate with S T A R G A Z E moving forward?

We don't have any plans to, but we might, it's all up in the air. We're gonna make a new piece, there's a guy who's written a song for us that we're premiering in February at MASS MoCA. We're really excited to play that one, it's different, really peaceful. We'll see where it goes, we all like playing with each other, who knows if we'll be here next week.

Too true. So, the inevitable question, how do you think this collaboration will inform or influence your own sound moving forward, if at all?

Well, we're working on finishing up a Poliça record right now.

Oh, right now?

It's very different. We're working with a couple different producers, it will probably to just underline our...the importance of collaborating and community and letting, I don't know, we're not a band we're one person makes everything and then the band joins for the live show. If that makes sense, working together is something we wanna keep on doing. I just don't know, we'll have to just see, to take a look back in five years and see what's taken shape.

Sure, is that something you can get into at all, the direction that the new album is taking?

Yeah, they're both – the two producers that we're working with – we don't know if they're just going to be solely Poliça records, but they're both techno producers, so it's different and not as many people.

Is that something we can expect for this year?

We want to release something sooner rather than later, in the spring or fall, maybe. I just don't know, and that's all I have to say there. (laughs)

Well, it's been good talking with you, try and get some sleep when the kids allow.

Good talking with you, too! I will, will...I hope.

**Catch Poliça and s t a r g a z e playing at Oval Space in London on the 27th of February!**

This interview has been edited and condensed.