I got used to not being seen…I got comfortable not selling myself…I think its hard to not commodify yourself when you’re a singer.
Amy Gabay 00:00
This podcast is brought to you by People’s Food Co Op, a community owned grocery store in downtown La Crosse, Wisconsin and Rochester, Minnesota that promotes local farmers and producers through an emphasis on fresh, healthy, sustainable food. Anyone can shop, everyone is welcome. For more information, visit them online at PFC.coop. We get a moment with Channy of the band Poliça. We talk about the new single “Rotting,” the upcoming tour for the band kicking off at the Winona portion of the Midwest Music Fest, and we get into the aesthetic and imagery of the band and find out what’s next. You can find more conversations, food reviews, live music and events on our website lacrosselocal.com. I’m Amy.
Brent Hanifl 00:46
Amy Gabay 00:47
And this is La Crosse Local.
Brent Hanifl 01:14
Digging into your music history the past couple of days, seeing the various collaborations and one off features. And also kind of digging into the kind of the setbacks in your life, is the release of “Rotting” and the tour kind of a welcome back for the band?
Channy Leaneagh 01:29
It is in some ways, we had our tours canceled, like so many other bands. And we wanted to have something to put out before we went back on the road again. So in a lot of ways, it’s sort of a pay off of our debts of canceling those shows in the US and wanting to have something for people to come out and see us who never got to see us perform our last record, which was called When We Stay Alive. We never got to tour that record in the US. We were touring that record in Europe, right when the pandemic hit, the first wave. So in a lot of ways, it was like, you know, the way the music industry works is you need to have something to bring people to your stand at the fair of selling music. And so we had “Rotting” kind of in the back burner. Its a song that I wrote in 2016 and Ryan Olson and Dustin Zhan made this cuts a bunch of beats they were working on and this the lyrics fit with it. So it was something that was kind of hanging in the backburner. And we knew that we wanted to yeah, have something to kind of say it’s not so much welcome back. But it’s more like, I guess we’re still here.
Brent Hanifl 02:44
So for that song, was it already recorded? Or was it something that you kind of had to create during COVID?
Channy Leaneagh 02:50
No, it was already recorded, actually. And then some additional producing was done on it. But yeah, it was already recorded. Actually, it was from a batch of music that we made with this techno producer and friend of ours, Dustin Stan.
Brent Hanifl 03:02
We talk to a lot of artists here locally in La Crosse, Wisconsin. We’ve heard from some of these artists who used the time during COVID as sort of creative sort of point, to other people, you know, who used it to just kind of freak out and relax a little bit. How was it for you? Was it something that was beneficial to you to give you some time or was it a negative all the way?
Channy Leaneagh 03:24
It wasn’t negative all the way. I’m a parent. And so I feel like if you had children during the pandemic, or you were a caregiver, you’re caring for elderly parents or something, or you were without dependents, it was a completely different experience. I think that I got a job at a grocery store. I don’t know, like six months into the pandemic, because I just needed to get away for a second. It wasn’t relaxing, it was basically just like being a teacher to my kids and trying to get them through it and be resilient and realize that, you know, we have a lot to be grateful for and everything but it wasn’t relaxing. It wasn’t that creative. It was more just like momming and parenting and getting outside. And you know, now looking back on it seems kind of ridiculous about like, you know, just running laps in my small backyard, just trying to like move my body a little bit. I probably could have just gone around the block fine. But I was really happy to be home actually. We were supposed to be on the road the whole year. And I was actually really happy to be home with my kids. Nothing life changing. But I noticed that slowly it was more incremental changes that have taken place over our house and over my mind to it. It certainly wasn’t like a panic that happened right away. But it was kind of these slow, incremental changes. I think we’re all just starting to notice, but during that time to sort of answer your question a little bit better. You know, we did write more songs and those will be coming out later. And they haven’t been announced really yet. But, you know, we did work on music and stuff.
Brent Hanifl 05:06
And kind of looking at the feel and you know, the look of the single, you know, just on the YouTube sort of imagery, and also just your website. Is there some correlation with that? Is that something specific to that song? Or is it just something, an artist that you really like?
Channy Leaneagh 05:21
You know, maybe one thing that other people might identify with the pandemic is I really got used to not being seen, or, yeah, being more unseen. I also got really comfortable and enjoyed not selling myself all the time. And I think it’s hard to not commodify yourself when you’re a singer, especially like a front woman. And I wanted to try experimenting with ways that I could control my image a little bit more and control the image of the band, and maybe in a lot of ways, just like reject having an image of us at all that really represented us and kind of stuck to the music. I started managing the band for the first time. And so, in the past, when I’d say like, oh, I want to use this picture, and it was like, oh, that’s not really like a good press photo. This time, we were able, as a whole band and myself to have more control to say like, this is the image we want to go along with the music. We have a supportive label in the UK, called Memphis Industries, and they’ve been with us since the beginning. But in essence, I think it always kills things when you have to, when you explain it too much in the sense that like, once we put it out there into the world, it’s really the world’s to do with, interpret how they want. Oftentimes, when you make something and you put it out into the world, it’s gonna get misconstrued anyways, and misquoted and kind of just dissolved into hyperbole. And just, you know, it’s what it is, it’s an AI generated image. And so we’re kind of playing with that over at Poliça camp. And it’s, you know, not anything that new or anything, but just taking like, hundreds of images, not hundreds, probably like 20 images of my face, making varied expressions and then having an AI generator make one face out of all of those expressions. So you can, you know, interpret them in 100 different ways, and probably all of them would be right, you know, anytime you’re making something that’s a, it’s a whole of all the different pieces of yourself and all the different people that you love and work with and are influenced by and so kind of playing with images and experimenting with just the image of the self.
Brent Hanifl 07:49
It’s very striking. It’s kind of interesting because you know, someone who’s known of your band, but hasn’t really dug into it this deep correlating that with the Rotting single, it’s just something that’s it’s got a lot of you know, trauma and it seems like it’s just kind of, it’s just very striking and made me interested in you know, finding out more. So, you have a show coming up at Midwest Music Fest. It’s gonna be in Winona, Minnesota. I love Midwest Music Fest, a multi day festival, hundreds of bands. What can people expect from your live show? What’s that like, is it brand new? Is it different from a couple years ago?
Channy Leaneagh 08:22
Well, we haven’t played in the US in a while. Same lineup, there’s two drummers. We play with electronic drum sets now. And that just allows us to sample more and the drummers to have more of an expansive toolbox with which to use. And Chris Bearden is still the bass player and singing with me. A lot of it’s the same. Yeah, we just are excited to play some of our songs that we haven’t really gotten a chance to play in the US yet. We’re all going to be just getting back into figuring out our performance stuff again. You know we’re practicing. Yeah, I mean, Poliça kind of has been just kind of doing what we do.
Brent Hanifl 09:05
So what’s next? Is anything coming down the line? Are you just trying to get this kicked off?
Channy Leaneagh 09:09
Yeah, probably. Just seeing how the tour goes and crossing our fingers that we’re able to be on the road again. And I’m, you know, probably like everybody else, I’m enjoying live music again, myself, and seeing plays and dance and kind of getting back into the groove of supporting other artists and getting inspired and just feeling that energy again, and that’s really nice. So I hope that we’re able to bring some of that to everybody as well.
Brent Hanifl 09:34
So you know, I’ve just been checking out your website, you’re on Bandcamp, you’re on YouTube, is there any preferred avenue you’d like to send people to check out your info?
Channy Leaneagh 09:42
You know, it’s funny, even in our band, you know, amongst the four of us, it’s very varied about where everybody likes to listen to music. Drew, likes to listen to a title, you know, I tend to go on iTunes. Bandcamp is probably like if I was it’s whatever you want to.
Brent Hanifl 10:02
All the places.
Channy Leaneagh 10:03
Amy Gabay 10:08
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La Crosse Local is an arts, food, and entertainment podcast and publication for La Crosse County and its surrounding communities.
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