2017 Artist Survey: POLIÇA and s t a r g a z e

Channy Leaneagh, Drew Christopherson, and Ryan Olson on 2017's Best Albums, #MeToo and Sexual Harassment, President Trump, and Racism in America

Feb 08, 2018 Web Exclusive
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For Under the Radar's 15th annual Artist Survey we emailed some of our favorite artists a few questions relating to the last year. We asked them about their favorite albums of the year and their thoughts on various notable 2017 news stories involving either the music industry or world events, as well as some quirkier personal questions. Here are some answers from POLIÇA. Frontwoman Channy Leaneagh answer the majority of the questions, but her bandmates Drew Christopherson and Ryan Olson also weigh in on 2017's best albums. The Minneapolis electronic quintet have teamed up with European orchestral collective s t a r g a z e for the collaborative album Music For the Long Emergency, which is due out February 16 via Totally Gross National Product/Transgressive. POLIÇA's last record was 2016's United Crushers, released by Mom + Pop.

For our annual Artist Surveys we emailed the same set of questions to musicians about the various sexual harassment and assault allegations, the "Me Too" movement, the chaotic first year of Donald Trump's presidency, the Charlottesville alt-right rally and racism in America, embarrassing moments, professional regrets, which Breakfast Club character they are most like, the end of the world, and much more.

What were your Top 10 Albums released in 2017?

Channy Leaneagh: All I have to say about these songs is that I've listened to about 30 minutes of new music this year and would never assume I know what's best but these I assume are good. Drew and Ryan helped me out with some of their favorites too.

1. Helena Hauff: Have You Been There, Have You Seen It (Channy Leaneagh)
2. Roll the Dice: Born to Ruin (Ryan Olson)
3. Patrick Cowley: Afternooners (Ryan Olson)
4. SZA: Ctrl (Channy Leaneagh)
5. Kendrick Lamar: DAMN. (Channy Leaneagh)
6. Xiu Xiu: Forget (Drew Christopherson)
7. Mount Eerie: A Crow Looked at Me (Drew Christopherson)
8. Andrew Broder: Cousin Mask (all Poliça)
9. Velvet Negroni: T.C.O.D. (all Poliça)
10. Fever Ray: Plunge (all Poliça)

What was the highlight of 2017 for either you personally or for the band? What was the low point?

Channy Leaneagh: The high point for the band was releasing two singles off our forthcoming collaborative record with s t a r g a z e, Music for the Long Emergency. We are really excited to get the whole record out in February and to tour with s t a r g a z e. So many low points in 2017: Trump and his whole gang of destroyers turned out to be way more horrific and unpredictable than anyone imagined, and it's still 2017 [as I write this]. I felt he would win but I could not have imagined the daily terror of his insanity.

2017 saw sexual harassment and assault allegations against many men in the music industry, film industry, journalism, politics, and elsewhere (including Harvey Weinstein, Matt Mondanile of Ducktails and Real Estate, Brand New's Jesse Lacey, Kevin Spacey, Louis C.K., Charlie Rose, Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore, Democratic Senator Al Franken, and others). Why do you think the floodgates opened in 2017 and do you think any meaningful change will come from it or will sexual harassment and assaults continue to be prevalent in certain industries?

Channy: I would guess it was preempted by testimonies or court cases of women being fondled or raped by Trump that came out pre-election (including the video evidence of Trump admitting to sexual assault and over-sexualized moronicy) and then how we had to watch him walk away a free man, proudly elected to president, no shame. The anger over one of the worst going free and now running our country exploded into shrapnel ripping out all the hiding abusers. The president still needs to be impeached and I'm disgusted that the Democrats aren't fighting harder for this. Presidents should be required to uphold some illusion of a moral compass.

In 2017 the "Me Too" and "It Was Me" social media hashtags further brought sexual assault and harassment to light. Have you ever been that concrete steps can be taken to combat sexual harassment and assault in the music industry and make it a more welcoming place for women?

Channy: Hmm. I mean it's still an incomplete floodgate opening isn't it? Because after the abuser is "found out" what happens to the victim? Are their reparations to the victim? Do they get a shot at the opportunity they should of had without pressure to have sex or be touched unwantedly? It's all still focused on the abuser and what happens to him and the politics of admission. The Republicans are on one side supporting a child molester who won't admit it and as long as everyone sticks to the story then they can still be a political party people vote for while the Democrats admit to it, resign and sexual violence still continues because it isn't universally accepted across all parties and news outlets as a crime. Sexual violence is so habitual in our fabric. It's like racism and citizens need to know and feel in their hearts that it is destructive and needs to be stopped. Too many don't believe sexual predatory behavior must be wiped out and that's why they continue to vote or support men who are sexual predators.

We must be wary of this floodgate destroying a victim's voice and watch out for the direction this reckoning falls. Historically wins for women are met with regression back into the dark ages.

Some would say we need more women in leadership but women often stay silent too when they see other women experience sexual violence, so I guess in the music industry and in all industries we need more leaders, women and men, with courage and moral boldness to say loud and clearly, "Hey fuckers, keep the workplace professional and treat people with respect. Don't use your dick as a weapon and let the ladies write songs or produce or have careers without your sexual ego getting in the way."

Should we be able to separate an artist's work from his or her actions? Or should an artist's negative behaviors completely negate the quality of his or her work? That would be just about no music right? 

Channy: Should we separate the murder of an animal from the desire for a bacon cheeseburger? Most people don't. There would be very little music to listen to past and present if we were looking for male musicians who didn't use their power to abuse others in some way. Maybe not the musician who made the music but what about the record label executive who signed the artist? It's a constant inquiry as to whether a person should support one thing or another, you got to think about how much you really want to hear a piece of music. You could just listen to music by musicians you know personally and have surveillance of their every move since they started thinking about or acting on sexual feelings.

The first year of the Trump administration has been chaotic to say the least. What has President Donald Trump done so far that most concerns or angers you? Is there anything President Trump has done, proposed, or said that you actually agree with? Why do you think his base continues to support him?

Channy: I absolutely have not agreed with anything he's said. He is disturbed and demented to say the least, and all his minions too. There is just too much concerning shit to list! His blatant reverence of white supremacy is Andrew Jackson reincarnated. Yes this America was built on racism and genocide but he eats it up and revels in it. It is hurting us all. His lies are like the sand in the sea. He swings us around on the merry-go-round of his mood-swings and little dicked ego; teasing nuclear war and sucking off all the corporations when we know that trickle down economics have NEVER worked. The attack on science and critical thinking in general. His applauding of police militarization, etc. on for days. I do believe that we will have to watch this country be destroyed by politics before there will be a change. But then this country always moves forward one step, and back 10. It is literally like a never-ending birth; the baby's head of freedom can't get out of the cervix. 

Many predicted President Donald Trump wouldn't last long in the White House and yet he's still there. At this point how hopeful are you that he'll be impeached? Barring that, how optimistic are you that he won't win reelection? And although it's still very early, is there already a potential candidate you would most like to see run for president in 2020?

Channy: We are being swindled by the political stage. I will vote (and especially locally) but my energy will be given to my community and neighborhood, working on ways to support each other and be independent from the government. 

The alt-right/neo-Nazi/KKK rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, the ensuing violence, and President Trump's reluctance to condemn such hate groups further showed that racism is alive and well in America. What concrete steps can we take to improve race relations in America and the world at large?

Channy: We need leaders who want to destroy white supremacy and a population that understands through education and critical thinking that white supremacy is poisoning us all. Also, capitalism must go. It feeds off of racism and oppression. It's stronger when we are divided. These ideas and actions seem pretty impossible at the moment. Start a new country somewhere else? "Freedom is a constant struggle" as Angela Davis says. Gotta start with ourselves, the way we each live and what we buy and never give up fighting in small and big ways.

What's your biggest professional regret?

Channy: I don't have many regrets about my career, I'm still surprised by all I've been able to make and all the places I've been. It seems like a gift and I don't regret gifts.

If you heard that the world was ending in one week who would be the first person you'd call and what are some of the things you'd do in that week?

Channy: I imagine I'd freak the fuck out! I'd probably run with my family to be with more family and then chill and love on them till the end.

www.thisispolica.com

www.we-are-stargaze.com

 

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