Sunset Junction: Pollyn's electro-pop is blossoming with adventurousness; Nosaj Thing remix premiere
Pollyn is a three-piece, except when the act is an eight-piece. The lineup swells during live performances, which are difficult to describe because they create a sort of coherent chaos that's almost pointless to pick apart.
Genevieve Artadi wails wraith-like, wrapping a moody melancholy into Adam Weissman's frenetic but funky beats. Guitarist Anthony Cava delivers spare guitar lines in the key of Liquid Liquid, whose music the group has previously remixed. Horns add equal parts celebration and sadness. Backup singers buoy the potentially downbeat into the uplifting.
Their influences are similarly tasteful and shambolic. The beats resemble an afterword to the Mo' Wax and trip-hop textbook, so much so that Weissman was once tapped to contribute songs for UNKLE. The syncretic mix of unexpected sounds mirrors the Gorillaz, without resembling the act sonically. Unsurprisingly, the band also remixed Damon Albarn's cartoon project. You might hear a little Blonde Redhead, a little Portishead, but neither are really accurate comparisons.
In the wake of releasing its debut album, last year's "This Little Night," Pollyn has issued a trio of remix EPs that capture the act's eclecticism and songwriting flexibility. This year's "Still Love" found white-hot dubstep producers Debruit and Blue Daisy reworking the title track -- while Sid Roams, best known for working with hard-boiled Queens rappers, contributed something fit for sub-woofers stashed in the trunk.
Pollyn's forthcoming and final remix record, "Shake Out the Other Way," finds the group working with artists including gangsta rapper Freddie Gibbs, underground hip-hop idol Exile and Stones Throw-signed disco-fusionist James Pants. Perhaps the highlight comes from Nosaj Thing, whose "Other Side" validates every ounce of acclaim thrown his way in the last year.
Amounted together, it illustrates why the band is the meeting point of the blunted beats emanating from "The Low End Theory" and the dulcet pop that regularly pops up on KCRW's "Morning Becomes Eclectic," where the band did an in-studio last September.
In advance of the act's 5:05 p.m. appearance Saturday at Sunset Junction (at the Fold Stage), Weissman spoke with Pop & Hiss about the EPs, the band's forthcoming record and its history.
How did you guys come together in the first place?
I'd been making beats for a while, but really wanted to do something with a singer. I recorded a bunch of stuff with another singer, but she didn't live in L.A. I was working with [Cava] at the time, and he mentioned that his cousin sang. His cousin was Genevieve [Artadi]. She was 17 at the time and had never sang before, but we got together and recorded and then did our own thing over the course of 10 years -- went to college, got jobs, etc. We all matured musically and then when the time was right, we finished an album.
The first album is essentially two and a half years of collected material that we whittled down to 11 songs. And in the course of the process, we got to do remixes for the Gorillaz, Liquid Liquid, Buffalo Daughter, Death from Above. It was a weird time for the industry when we started recording. We had a manager who floated the idea of getting us a major label deal and money for equipment, but it all fizzled. We got tired of outsiders telling us to "make it more catchy."What's the status of the new record?
It's called "Living in Patterns," and we’re really psyched about it. It’s a step away from the down-tempo electronic stuff we've done previously. It's a lot heavier with more percussion. It's Afrobeat influenced without sounding anything like Vampire Weekend. It's still moody and sounds like us, but with faster tempos and funkier bass lines.
What led to that evolution?
We're big Talking Heads fans, especially "Remain in Light." We've been listening to a lot of Afrobeat, especially the Analog Africa compilations. We've also been listening to the Creatures records, which was a band that Siouxsie Sioux formed with her drummer. They had a globe and they would spin it, and wherever it landed was the continent where they would record their album.
We're trying to free ourselves up and a lot of that comes from performing with a live band and being able to utilize them properly. Now when we write songs, we take into account that there will be eight of us on stage. When we wrote the last record, we'd never played onstage with a band.
How did you decide on who you wanted for the remix record?
I try to curate them like my dream remix project, factoring in who I can get to. I like the last one that's coming out on Aug. 31, the most. It's the most cohesive. Strangely enough, the Nosaj Thing remix was the first one that we had discussed doing, but it took him a while to finish it because he was so busy. When we were doing the live show, I had to learn Ableton and Jason [Nosaj] was actually the one who showed me how to use it.
-- Jeff Weiss
Pollyn will appear at Sunset Junction street fest, in Silver Lake between the 3700 and 4300 blocks of Sunset Boulevard and the 4000 to 4200 blocks of Santa Monica Boulevard. Pollyn is set to appear at 5:05 p.m.Tickets will be $20 at the door but are available online at a small discount.
MP3: Pollyn-"Other Side (Live)"
Photo credit: Pollyn