On a drizzly, gray October morning, I arrived at an unremarkable address on the outskirts of northeast London, and I was told that Caroline Polachek She is currently shooting the cover of her new album. Considering the musician’s knack for creating worlds – elaborate baroque Disney backdrop mille-feuille cakes and 90 Steven Meisel Versace campaigns provided her with Visual Effects Record, Pang, For example – I hope to arrive at a studio full of extravagant sets and esoteric props.
Instead, I found myself in an outdoor train museum, with Polachek squatting inside an old subway car, crawling through a mound of sand. She wears a coffee-stained dress (deliberate, notable) with a touch of eyeshadow on her eyelids, surrounded by extras playing casual commuters. “I wanted the cover to be a real-world explosion,” she explains—or at least that’s her take on rush hour obsession.
Polachek is referring to the cover of her upcoming issue Desire, I Want To Turn Into You, came out this February – the second with her own Names, though this is technically her seventh. Now 37, she started out as the frontman of Brooklyn indie duo Chairlift, but when the band broke up 37, Polachek found that success was far from guaranteed. What followed was a tumultuous period in her personal life—divorce, a move from New York to London, mysterious adrenaline rushes, and bouts of sleeplessness—during which she wrote Pang. personally reconstructed self-deprecating document, one of ‘s most masterful pop records, earns Polachek a brand new and extremely loyal ’s fan base, with no small help thanks in part to the success of her hit single “So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings.” But a few shows on the tour, the pandemic came and threw everything Polachek had planned.
So, what is there to do but accept the destruction? “It’s definitely an outgoing album, and I’m playing more bullshit and abstract stuff,” says Polachek, painted in her Los Angeles home as we reconnect via Zoom the morning before she’s about to leave for South America. Tour surrounded by white walls. Normally, Polachek would hide in the studio for weeks on end writing, she told me, but this album was recorded in fits and sporadic creative bursts: over the years, across many countries, wherever Polachek himself was Where headlines or her work in support of Dua Lipa can be recorded. Along the way, she also found time to enhance her image as a fashion darling, appearing in campaigns for Loewe and Vivienne Westwood, and walking the runway for brands like Chloé and Eckhaus Latta. “I think in some ways, I’m at peace with chaos,” she reflects. “The concoction of all of this ends up feeling right to the music.”
Polachek’s intuition for pop songwriting feels almost mathematically precise at times; in Desire,, they are unleashed into weirder and more unexpected places. “I wanted to turn the volume up to counter this feeling of overflow and excess,” she adds. “Maybe a little more frenetic. I definitely hope there’s humor in it, even if it’s just a voice switch that catches you off guard,” she said, before adding wryly: “Or makes you scream.”
When we talk about the music itself, Polachek’s crackle and pop energy relax a bit — even if she admits the album is her most willfully eclectic to date. She talks about ancient Rome’s cornucopia, ants, volcanoes and bottled wine, which have become recurring visual themes—symbols of the precariousness of life over the past few years. Still, amidst her endless touring schedule, she’s managed to find a more down-to-earth life, splitting time between London and Los Angeles with fellow British visual artist Matt Copson. (He co-directed her video while she scored his laser projections and even composed an aria for a Kurt Cobain-inspired opera he recently directed in London; during their break, They played the trading card game Magic: The Gathering.)