Musicheads Essential Artist: Poliça

Polica studio session
Polica in The Current studio, 2019. (Nate Ryan/MPR)
Musicheads Essential Artist: Polica
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Click above to hear an audio version of this biography, with musical selections. Audio hosted by Mac Wilson and produced by Derrick Stevens.

The experimental electro-pop band Poliça are one of the most internationally successful groups to come out of Minneapolis in the modern era, and helped popularize a more artistic, expressive use of vocoders and vocal effects.

Poliça were formed in 2011, starting out as a collaboration between the lead singer Channy Leaneagh and the producer Ryan Olson. At the time, Channy had been part of the popular folk group Roma di Luna, while Ryan had performed in several experimental punk and electronic groups and had recently masterminded the expansive, collaborative Gayngs project.

It was while touring behind the Gayngs album that Channy and Ryan started developing new musical ideas, and by the end of 2011 Poliça had become the most buzzed-about new local act in years; some of their first shows ever were on the road, where they toured as openers for Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, and before they'd even released their debut album, Justin Vernon told Rolling Stone that Poliça were the best band he'd ever heard.

In addition to Channy's mesmerizing, heavily manipulated vocal melodies, Poliça consists of the bassist and vocalist Chris Bierden and a pair of heavy-hitting drummers, Ben Ivascu and Drew Christopherson. On stage, the quartet lock together to create mesmerizing, roiling, rhythmically complex dance music.

Over the years, Poliça have continued to search for new sounds and feelings in their music. They have collaborated with producers like Lane 8 and Boyz Noize; they teamed up with the Berlin orchestral group s t a r g a z e to release an evocative album, Music for the Long Emergency, in 2018, and have been a core part of the 37d03d (PEOPLE) collective and series of festivals that are led by Justin Vernon and the National's Aaron and Bryce Dessner.

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