Los Angeles-based Polaris Rose just released their second record, Ocean Blue, Velvet Skies, but they’re hardly slowing down. They played a special album release show at The Hotel Cafe, and they’re already working on their third LP.
We chatted with the duo about their recent-ish start, their latest record, the L.A. scene, and much, much more.
Raz Mataz Magazine (RMM): You guys are a relatively new band; what’s your origin story?
Polaris Rose (PR): Maddie and I [Peter] met back in Boston in 2010. And although we didn’t start Polaris Rose ’til 2013, we spent years working on a variety of bands and developing our musical relationship. We began to trust one another’s strengths. Maddie really runs the business of the band, while I’m more the songwriting guy. In 2013, we decided to work on a project as a duo… and pretty quickly we recorded and released our first EP, The Moon & its Secrets. Since then, we’ve put out a second EP and two full-length albums. We are nearly done with our third LP actually.
RMM: You also have a really full sound for just two people. How do you cultivate that?
PR: The sound is something that we decided on early on. I sometimes call it a musical palette. Our previous bands ranged from R&B to heavy metal, but for Polaris Rose there is a certain tone we are going for. The fun part is developing the tone and vision of the band over the course of our records.
RMM: Your second full-length album, Ocean Blue, Velvet Skies, beautifully blends a variety of genres. Why expand the sound like that, as opposed to sticking to one or two genres?
PR: We just do what’s natural to us. I don’t think we thought of it like we were blending genres. We were just following our instincts.
RMM: The album also feels incredibly vast. What was the writing and recording process like?
PR: We demoed 35+ songs in total. It was a long process, and we experimented down a lot of avenues. We knew that – with Ocean Blue, Velvet Skies – we wanted to write music that sounded to us like a sunset. At one point, we tried a handful of songs that had a lounge feel. We tried some harder, bluesier songs. We even wrote a catchy folk song. But ultimately we put forward the songs that best represented that original vision.
RMM: “Soda Jerk” is one of my favourite tracks, with its social message. How would you define the message of the song? And why do you think music is an important medium for taking a stand?
PR: We’re glad you like it! We have a couple songs on the record that talk about our modern world and how technology is both incredible and – especially in a social sense – detrimental. “Soda Jerk” was inspired by a documentary by the BBC called The Century of the Self (which we name-drop in the song). It’s about the use of psychoanalysis to sell products based on human desires. We obviously spend a lot of time on social media, and it’s everywhere. We were just reacting to those ideas.
RMM: The culture in L.A. is often said to hinder the arts, since such emphasis is placed on “making it”. What are your thoughts on that, as natives?
PR: Well, I’m originally from Seattle and Maddie is from Colorado. So, as transplants, we can see what people mean… but I think that’s something that artists put on themselves. Clearly, most bands in L.A. (including us) are trying to “make it”… which ultimately means making a living at making music. It’s definitely a challenge and there’s a lot of focus on image out here. But I’d say that most people here can see through the B.S. and are focused on their art. And besides, some people focus mostly on the image-side of things and that is their art. I know I am terrible at that part, ha ha.
RMM: What’s next for Polaris Rose?
PR: Our third LP is nearly done. It’s part of a six-album cycle that we have dreamt up.
RMM: Other comments?
PR: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us! And if anyone wants to listen, our new record – Ocean Blue, Velvet Skies – is on Apple Music and Spotify.
Indeed it is. Get more Polaris Rose online at www.polarisrose.com.