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Caroline Polachek celebrates Valentine’s Day with “Desire, I want to turn into you: Everasking Edition.”

A few years ago, Caroline Polachek ventured into a solo career after being part of the “Chairlift” group. When discussing her solo journey with “Pitchfork” magazine, she explained that she had a lot of self-doubt:

Yes, indeed: I could imagine it, but I couldn’t imagine it actually happening. A lot depended on the unknown, on taking a big risk. I was already well into my thirties. I had no role models to follow. I looked around, and I couldn’t find any examples of a woman my age who had succeeded in launching a solo career after leaving a group, especially a group that hadn’t achieved a certain mainstream status. It was a significant demand. Even women who had started a career at my age, I think Debbie Harry and M.I.A. were somewhat the only ones in that field.

Caroline Polachek: Artist versus Entrepreneur!

The rise of social networks and the widespread use of the internet have had a triple impact on music production. Firstly, artists don’t necessarily need to go through a major record label to be heard, thanks to the buzz effect. Most record labels today simply endorse the choices of the public by signing artists. They no longer invest in emerging artists but incorporate artists whose artistic development is already well underway, or even completed, and adapt them to industrial dictates.

Moreover, the paradigmatic flaw in the music system means that the audience often attaches itself to singles rather than projects. The structure of streaming and YouTube favors singles. Thus, many artists settle for creating fairly generic projects that unfold in a series of singles, or rather a series of “desired” hits. According to the singer:

“It seems quite surreal to have this strange invisible barrier in my career, where some people have found their way through it to the catalog. And others haven’t. In reality, I have no particular program. It’s pretty cool that I can be both a new artist and a career artist at the same time.”

“One of the interesting challenges for me is to create layers. Most people don’t go beyond the first layer, but I want to make it as rich as possible for those willing to go all the way with me. Mystery is one of the most captivating forces, but social media has created this desire to form an opinion as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, we’ve programmed ourselves to only want to engage with something during the time it takes to formulate a cool thought. When it becomes very clear that an artist or a work has something suggested but not yet understood, it’s a really important way to resist the fast process of indexing.”

Finally, streaming and sales revenues are so low that most artists embrace a career as influencers. They earn much more money with “concerts” or “showcases” than with their sales. They generate even more money with commercial placements and their influencer careers. Thus, by a logic not unique to music, art has become industrialized, becoming the epicenter of entertainment, sometimes at the expense of authenticity. Should true art free itself from economic constraints? Yes, probably. But no one lives on bread and water alone, so artists have become entrepreneurs, and art is heading towards entertainment, becoming a market among many others.

Caroline Polachek, producer, performer, and lyricist herself, stands out from the existing system. The project “Desire, I want to turn into you“, which has just been reissued with some unreleased tracks, is a dive into the world of Caroline Polachek. It’s no coincidence that the project begins with the track “Welcome to my Island“. Thus, if the opus includes some hits like “Bunny is a rider“, they are far from reflecting the absolute richness of this project, which establishes an exceptional atmosphere between some vaporous tracks, guitar arpeggios, and above all, Caroline Polachek in all her states. Far from the figure of the entrepreneur, she remains on her island as a reminiscence of the past, a distant past where we listened to music and didn’t consume it.

Desire, I want to turn into you: Everasking Edition“: The Coronation?

It is true that Caroline Polachek is seemingly touched by the phenomenon XXXTentacion. At the rapper’s death, tortured and subversive, listeners worldwide discovered him, and some, for the first time, with “Moonlight“. This track is far from reflecting the reality of “?”, which even includes rock’n’roll tracks. With “Bunny is a rider“, Caroline Polachek has achieved posthumous fame. But how many listeners of “Bunny is a rider” have delved into the album and captured the essence of Caroline Polachek.

The artist announces her return with the track “Butterfly” featuring Weyes Blood. Involved in composing her pieces from the start, she continues her momentum by enlisting the services of Danny L. Harle on this track. She had performed this track live at “KEXP” solo eight months ago.

However, sensitive to new trends, the artist bets on a complete match between her tracks and the visual. Many artists in France, like SCH, Shay, or Swing, have understood the importance of the video in an era where YouTube continues to dominate music distribution platforms. In this regard, within the Caroline Polachek crew, she is the only one at the forefront. The goal is not to focus on a baroque vision with a multiplication of effects but to create a genuine connection between the visual and the music.

Well, when you’re in a group, everyone has to be on board if you really want to make a significant gesture. And in the case of Chairlift, the guys weren’t on board. They just wanted to wear their t-shirts and jeans, and I always felt quite uncomfortable. Our last show was really emblematic of that: I arrived dressed in a black spandex jumpsuit covered in rhinestones and high heels, and the guys wore their work boots and t-shirts. There was only so much I could do. You can’t really control the image without everyone being on board, even how we would steer Chairlift as a business.

“I wanted to reinvest our money in the visual: music videos, our live show, investing in fashion. And Patrick was the type to say, ‘No, we need to buy this mixer’ or ‘Let’s buy these speakers.’ There was no correct answer, obviously; he and I had excellent chemistry as studio and composition partners, which is why it worked for so long. But as soon as I could go solo, I thought, ‘I’m going to dedicate the money from this project to the visual side.’ I had never had carte blanche to do that; it’s not to say that it was a lot of money to work with, it wasn’t the case, but it was a priority for me. And it was really rewarding to see and feel that people connected with it as well.”

The reissue, like the project, follows this fine line between atmospheric tracks revealing subjectivity and dreamy guitar arpeggios. However, the track “Coma“, much more intense and faster than the others, is a form of abstract consecration of the atmosphere contained by Caroline Polachek. An artist is born from the tumult of “Chairlift“.

C.E.O HELL SINKY, author, journalist, documentary

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