I never get much mail really. The electronic type I get tons of, but the real type that comes from Mr. Mailman, rarely. So imagine my delight when I received a CD in the mail, along with a cool numbered art print from Chapel Hill, NC band – Polynya.
I have a weakness for indie-pop, female vocals and electronic music, so after a few listens to Crop Rotation , I knew I just had to feature this band. Luckily, band member Luke Berchowitz allowed us to do a virtual sit down, and takes on this week’s Fresh from the Post questions –
First off, I just wanted you guys to know that I learned a new word today, that a polynya is another word for a naturally occurring ice hole. Thank you for this new information 🙂 Now my question is, why choose to name your band Polynya? Are there more to these ice holes that the public is missing out on?
I think that one ‘fun fact’ is that Polynyas are often formed in regions that are severely below freezing, but the wind blows so fast that the ice crystals can’t form. There isn’t a specific reason that we named our band Polynya, I’m sure that you can sympathize that appealing band names (appealing to us that is) are hard to find, so when one sticks, it sticks. I like band names that don’t have definite definitions and evocations that come built in. I like it when the band name is nebulous enough so that the music defines the name rather than the other way around.
Lately there has been a polynya conference or something because I have a google alert for us (vain I know, please don’t hold it against me) and the geographical phenomenon is kicking the ass of polynya the band right now. We had the upper hand for a while though. I guess we will have to release another album.
How did you guys start out?
Started out as a two piece with a drum machine. I answered an ad in the newspaper -yes that long ago- looking for a musician right when I moved to Chapel Hill in 2002. It listed Boards of Canada, Coil, Magnetic Fields, and Stereolab I think. I didn’t know anyone at the time and I was going through a Coil phase so I answered and it worked out. We got our bassist from an ad that he placed and one member through internet stalking.
You mentioned in your site, some of the bands that you guys are into. One of them was Pere Ubu. Given the choice, would you rather be known as a band with a cult following like Pere Ubu (whose songs are only known to a small percentage of the world’s population) or a band with a hit song that’s fairly familiar to everyone (like maybe Coldplay – only your songs don’t lull everyone to sleep)?
Well, I don’t think that you can go around trying to be a cult band, I think that it’s one of those things where striving for it actually results in the opposite outcome. Given the two options, I think it would be cool to have a hit or two. Those bands like Pere Ubu were just really strange folks with a real sense of art and just did what ever they felt and it turned out to inspire a lot of people. We try to do things that way where we just do whatever we think is good and let the chips fall where they may. Obviously Pere Ubu are legends and we are nowhere close to what they achieved. Funny you should mention Coldplay though because I really enjoy the electric guitar work on their first album.
Could you pick out some songs that you’d like to share for our readers here and tell us a little something about them – like, what inspired you to create them or what they’re all about?
Orlando is a song that I think is a high point on the album. It has really been gestating for about 6 years. Our keyboardist came up with the initial riff and I can tell you that the original version has about a gazillion more chord changes, which we chopped way down because the rest of the band are more pop-junkies and like things to go in more of that route. The song took a long time to structure and arrange, but the end result is something that we are really proud of. It’s not named after the place but rather the novel by Virginia Woolf. The song is about anxiety.
Fan Fiction is a fun track where the tempo is way up, which I would like to do more of in our coming efforts. Again the structure of that song has really evolved over the years and it has a bunch of non 4/4 stuff mixed in, which I like when it still sounds like pop and not proggy and forced. It’s about the concept of the noise/signal ratio. There are a bunch of crazy instruments on that track that come out of it when you listen closely.
I make it a point to ask every band we feature, their definiton of indie music. How do you define indie music?
Here is my definition. It’s taken some hits over the years, but I maintain it and it helps me stay optimistic.
To me, Indie music is any music that is not released on a major label.
Hopefully, getting this posted up on the internet will put a major blow to the geographical phenomenon’s dominance on Google and bring Polynya the band back on the top. Though, may they be search engine popular or not, it won’t really matter – with their unique instrumention, catchy tunes and lovely vocals, Polynya the band, has already captured their target audience – music junkies and fans alike. They’d probably get one or two natural science geeks converted, but that’s just a plus.
Crop Rotation is available for purchase at the band’s website : polynya.info