Poliça's Channy Leaneagh and Ryan Olson operate on the same expressive plane

click to enlarge Poliça's Channy Leaneagh and Ryan Olson operate on the same expressive plane
Cameron Wittig

Minneapolis-based synthpop superheroes Poliça will kick off their nationwide tour with a night in Norman, treating the city to Channy Leaneagh’s ethereal vocals and producer Ryan Olson’s bewitching beats.

Poliça sprang from collaboration between Leaneagh and Olson while she was lending backing vocals to Olson’s retro soft-rock supergroup Gayngs.

“It started as a quiet exchange,” Leaneagh said of their early musical experimentation. “It reminded me of working with someone who doesn’t speak the same language as you, and you have to be very intuitive and focused on their body language. He played a beat and I sang over it, and we communicated through what we made. I never had to say if a beat was working or not; he could read me right away.

“It’s that struggle to communicate and to express yourself within someone else’s own expression that is at the heart of the creative passion for me. That’s how love works, and that’s how good teamwork operates best as well.”

Leaneagh and Olson started recording in 2011 with Chris Bierden bringing bass and additional vocals and a pair of drummers, Drew Christopherson and Ben Ivascu, punctuating the percussive soundscape with their dueling drums. Olson decided not to join the touring ranks, so the foursome became Poliça’s onstage lineup.

Poliça returned from a European tour in August, playing a batch of shows that were Leaneagh’s favorite so far. They have ventured across the Atlantic numerous times since the release of their debut album, Give You the Ghost, in 2012.

Leaneagh said touring outside of America had a strong influence on the band.

“We were pushed outside our comforts, far from home,” she said. “We made new friends and saw the world unromanticized by realizing how small and similar we all are. [It] brought us much closer together as a band and also gave us a bounty of new perspectives that I think we are all grateful for.”

Give You the Ghost was a self-financed effort, and Leaneagh has always recognized the importance of those who believe in what she does.

“People’s support from the beginning was paramount to us surviving out here. We have gotten where we are from a lot of hard work by lots of good people,” she said. “Someone told me our second record, Shulamith, was darker than Give You the Ghost, and that surprised me.”

Released in 2013, the record is named after feminist activist and author Shulamith Firestone.

Shulamith, to me, was our pop record,” Leaneagh said. “It felt upbeat to me, so that reminded me of how differently we all feel the world.”

Poliça’s richly creative offerings are perfect for diverse interpretation, and Leaneagh is excited to continue writing songs that are true to the band’s soul.

“We will just make the music we want to make and do it because it feels good,” she said. “[Olson and I] know each other back and forth and sideways now but still work much the same. I am still inspired by him, and that motivates me to inspire him.”

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