A five-piece, electro-pop outfit, POLIÇA features singer Channy Leaneagh and producer Ryan Olson as its core members. Polish for “policy”, POLIÇA splashed onto the scene in 2011, and have since released three studio albums, with their latest “United Crushers” dropping in 2016. A band with their finger on the pulse of current events, POLIÇA is back with their most-recent release “How Is This Happening“, a joint EP with Stargaze that came out earlier this month.
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Sean Ritchie: Let’s start off with your hometown of Minneapolis, Minnesota. What really stands out and makes it special to you? Where would you send a first-time visitor in the city?
Channy Leaneagh: I would say that thing that stands out to me is the [compactness of the city], it’s not quite sprawled out yet. There’s this small-town feeling. Added in with the amount of natural areas we have here that you can hike in or walk around, including the bodies of water, and there’s always something to do.
It’s mixed with progressive politics and people trying — Black Lives Matter has a big movement here. There’s the American Indian Movement (AIM) here, one of the largest populations of urban American Indians. There’s a lot of activism going on. The music scene is really good, as well. There are a lot of great art and dance establishments here. I would probably send people to Breaking Bread Café, and then over to Theodore Wirth [Regional] Park.
CL: Some of my earliest memories of music are probably in dance lessons that I took, just incorporating music with movement and how that made me feel. Probably one of the most powerful and life-changing things [to me]. My dad was a songwriter and played a lot of music at home. A lot of the things that I love today are the things that he introduced me to.
SR: To create music, and traveling to promote it, must be such a feeling, but what’s the most impactful and meaningful part you cherish about it? Does traveling help inspirationally?
CL: It’s definitely meeting so many different people from all over the world and realizing how connected and similar we are. The world seems so much smaller now, especially since we started touring and traveling so much. I think it does influence the music and the writing, because it gives you more experiences as a writer. You see more of the world. I think that it can make your writing more vibrant. I think it adds to a perspective of the isolation and loneliness of the road too. I think also traveling and performing every night gives you a better sense of crowds, and what songs you do and don’t want to play.
SR: Definitely, that’s cool to hear! Now, tying it into your recent work, you just released your “How Is This Happening” EP with Stargaze. Talk about your thought process behind that release, and your excitement to play it live for your fans.
CL: I wrote that song the day after [Donald] Trump was elected, and was trying to release some feelings of intense fear. I was just feeling discouraged by our election and our electoral process. Then, it was just the fear of what would come next. I wanted to write a song that expressed those feelings of the unknown. It was anything like I had seen in my lifetime with such fascist beliefs.
I am excited to play it. There are some songs that your excited to play, and there are others that you feel you need to play. That’s more of a need to play. It’s good to share. I’m really excited to play it with Stargaze. That’s another thing I love about being a touring musician is meeting other musicians and hearing about their travel experiences. That has happened with Stargaze about Berlin and Amsterdam.
SR: I hear you there, and that’s awesome to hear about that connection with other musicians. Transferring into your personal travels, when you do have some downtime and are looking to get away, are you more of a beach person? Looking for mountains somewhere? Or, searching for a city?
CL: Probably someplace where I can walk a long way in isolation or with my traveling partners. Recently, I’ve been thinking about going to the desert — Tuscon or New Mexico. I’ve never been to the Outer Banks. When I fantasize about travel that’s not for work, it’s always to places that I’ve never been and are outside of a city.
SR: One of our core objectives at SCP is to bring people together while traveling. I believe there’s a lot of parallels there with music. You’re constantly bring people from all walks of life together under one roof. Talk about how important and powerful that is to do what you do.
CL: Yes, especially when all these horrible tragedies are happening inside concert venues or churches. I kind of consider music venues to be the atheists’ or non-religious people’s churches. People go there to clear their head and forget about themselves. It’s a very spiritual experience to gather and listen to music you love with other people. Now, we have this blanketed fear of being shot out while we listen to music and trying to escape. It’s powerful when we overcome that by coming together and not experiencing violence and rape, and just feeling the music in peace. We don’t have to be successful financially to enjoy music. We don’t have to have a good relationship to enjoy music together. We don’t have to be doing well at our jobs. It’s for everyone.
SR: I always love to ask people who are well traveled if there are any destinations that they haven’t been to, but still want to see. What are a few on your list?
CL: I really want to go to China. That’s on the top of my list. I’ve never been to Japan either. China and Japan are probably neck-and-neck. I really would love to go to Romania. There’s a good music culture there. I also have never been to Spain. Those are probably my top four. Oh, and I’d love to go to Egypt. I’ve got lots of places on my wish list.