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The Unlikely Frontwoman: We met Channy Leanagh from Poliça

We spoke to Poliça singer, Channy Leaneagh, about their new record, feminism, Miley, and how interviews make her feel a bit gross.
October 22, 2013, 9:30pm

Photo by Jeremy Knowles.

London's Soho House is a bit of an awkward place for an interview. It's noisy, and full of people who enjoy the sound of their own voice a little too much. Channy Leaneagh is not one of these people. Overwhelmingly beautiful (more so than any picture suggests) and incredibly soft spoken, I was wary of our interview. Despite fronting Poliça, a band who rose to success at an alarming fast rate, and count Kanye West as a fan, I've heard she's notoriously shy in interviews.

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Instead I find she drops all of the "made for magazine" bullshit that artists have so well honed these days. As men in suits talk business, we dicuss Bon Iver, feminism, and the detrimental effects of Miley Cyrus on society. It's the sort of conversation that makes me feel older and wiser than I actually am.

Noisey: Your new record Shulamith is named after the radical feminist Shulamith Firestone. How did you come about her?

Channy: I’ll probably never be able to explain to people properly why I chose her, why she fit the record so completely. I chose that name not because I wanted to make a statement about feminism—I didn’t want it to take over the record. After I finished writing it, I read The Dialectic of Sex. I started reading it, and I couldn’t stop. I was like, “This woman has just said everything I’m trying to say in 12 songs, perfectly.” This is what I wanted to say, this is what I was looking for. This woman to me is like my pop star. I want to try and be more like her.

You’ve come incredibly far in such a short space of time. Does it all tie back into making music for music’s sake for you?

It really does. Coming from the community we come from, going back home and seeing bands that are making music that are tons better than ours, you want to stay true to where you come from, and make the people at home proud.

Have you ever felt yourself falter?

There’ve been times where I’ve felt like I didn't do things right. It mostly happens in interviews, when I feel like I didn’t articulate what the band was doing well enough, so I did damage to the band. Sometimes when I do photo shoots, I feel like I don’t look like myself. I feel like I need to be more assertive.

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Do you find the self promotional side of being an artist difficult?

Yeah. I come from a place where everybody is very accepting and very polite. I want to please people in general. I don’t love some of the things that we’ve done. I don’t love all our videos.

Any in particular?

I’m not a big fan of the "Wandering Star" video, though I know a lot of people love it. People write me, or come up to me and tell me that. So I guess I’m not making this just for myself. I’ve not made anything that I’m embarrassed of, or that I feel I’ve sold myself out over. I still love working with people, I don’t like to do things all on my own, I love working with other artists, I want to work with people and see what they make.