From the files of Poliça squad

Minneapolis synthpoppers inject much-needed local flavor into the Spring Jam lineup

Polica performs Sunday, June 24, 2012, at River's Edge Music Festival in St. Paul, Minn.

Daily File Photo, Mark Vancleave

Polica performs Sunday, June 24, 2012, at River’s Edge Music Festival in St. Paul, Minn.

Grant Tillery

Since their genesis in 2011, Poliça has quickly become one of Minneapolis’ most buzzed-about bands, thanks to the way that Channy Leaneagh’s ethereal vocals mesh with a dreamy synthesizer menagerie.

Their two albums, “Give You the Ghost” and “Shulamith,” have established Poliça as a natural progression from the hazy, cherry-colored funk of the Cocteau Twins, with trip-hop hints reminiscent of Air.

The band is rounded out by producer and local jack-of-all-trades Ryan Olson, bassist Chris Bierden and drummers Ben Ivascu and Drew Christopherson (who also share drum duties in Marijuana Deathsquads).

 “[Olson] saw Chris Bierden singing [at] a Brian Eno cover night and said, ‘You guys would work well together,’” Leaneagh said.

Olson and Leaneagh collaborated in local supergroup Gayngs. He discovered Leaneagh’s voice at a birthday party for former Swiss Army and Communist Daughter drummer Steve Yasgar.

For someone with a folk music background — Leaneagh fronted the band Roma di Luna along with ex-husband Alexei Moon Casselle — Leaneagh is equally as adept as a pop singer, in part due to her naturally breathy whisper that’s trendy among female vocalists these days. Leaneagh grew up steeped in traditional music and was smitten with gospel, R&B and folk singers.

“It’s kind of a mundane taste in music,” she said, recounting days spent listening to musicians as disparate as Mahalia Jackson, Aaliyah and Joni Mitchell. “I was really into lyrics and songwriting as a kid, and that really affected me as a folk singer. Folk plays a huge part in the way I write songs now.”

Leaneagh is currently going through her self-described “hardcore rebellious teen phase.” She’s been listening to the Dead Kennedys and Bikini Kill, a departure from Poliça’s suave production.

“As I’ve gotten older, I want more abrasive things,” Leaneagh said. “I can’t really stand the smooth ’90s R&B that I used to listen to. I want either hardcore or Bach concertos.”

This intense music gives Leaneagh a strange sense of calm — the unsettling leaves her settled, and she finds peace of mind through trashing drums and distorted vocals and guitar.

“Your personal life influences the kind of notes and tones that you want in your ears,” Leaneagh said. “Crystal Castles and Crass seem [to be] settling in the way that Babyface and Toni Braxton used to be to me. It’s in the same way that getting a good punch in the face can chill out a really obnoxious drunk, or if I’m really stressed out and go running — doing some sort of abusive thing to my body is kind of is relaxing.”

Sonic harshness hasn’t translated to Poliça’s music, though Leaneagh finds it as “a breath of fresh air.” She has a love-hate relationship with the ’90s R&B influences she’s trying to wean herself of.

“If [I] listen to something that’s sexy and smooth, it makes me irritated,” Leaneagh said.

Yet, she acknowledged that Poliça’s music is smoother than ever, though she doesn’t exhibit a tortured artist syndrome over this paradox.

Leaneagh’s biggest challenge in Poliça is actually the business side of showbiz. She lamented that the music business is a full time job — a 70-30 compromise to songwriting and performing. But Leaneagh’s visionary acumen is the force that drives her through these trivialities.

“I’m oftentimes fighting for what’s right for the music,” Leaneagh said.

She noted it’s difficult to retain control, especially when the powers that be make demands that detract from the creative process.

“It feels like I’m working for an advertising firm, but I have only one client, and that’s my band. You have to be on your toes and make sure your music isn’t being directed by people that aren’t making it.”


What: Poliça
When: 12 p.m. Friday
Where: Front Plaza, Coffman Union, 300 16th Ave. SE, Minneapolis
Cost: Free