Caroline Polachek is Listening to Katy Perry, Enya, and Third Eye Blind

Published October 25, 2019

Photo by Will Hubbard.

This is “Add to Queue,” our attempt to sort through the cacophony of music floating in the algorithmic atmosphere by consulting the experts themselves. Our favorite musicians tell us about their favorite music—the sad, the happy, the dinner party-y, the songs they want played at their funeral. In this edition, we speak with Caroline Polachek, singer-songwriter and former lead vocalist for indie R&B duo Chairlift. Her new album, Pang, produced by PC Music’s  Danny L Harle, is the first to be released under her full name, and it is an emotional, synth-lush pop journey. “I want fans to feel like this album is a home for them to feel certain things, to feel unashamed about any passions that they have, to feel like their insecurities or fears are universal.” Polachek told Interview. Here, she reveals her dream collaboration, the Madonna track that defined her childhood, and the saddest song she’s ever listened to. 

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ERNEST MACIAS: What was the last song you listened to?

CAROLINE POLACHEK: This is just a very honest answer. I was just watching the Katy Perry “Harleys in Hawaii” video.

MACIAS: I love that. I haven’t seen it yet.

POLACHEK: I think I only got like halfway through it and my manager called me and was like, “Caroline, we need you to post this tweet,” or whatever, so I only got a little bit. I really like the cinematography. But, I had a playlist on Spotify that I can show you the link to that has a lot of the music I was listening to while making this record. It’s got stuff all over the map from some of the collaborators on this record, like the PC Music Crew, some late-career Joni Mitchell, some Yves Tumor. I am obsessed with (Sandy) Alex G. His new record is gorgeous. Eartheater just put out a new album today called Trinity that I’m in love with.

MACIAS: Who is the earliest musician to influence you?

POLACHEK: Probably Enya. My parents got divorced when I was really young and I was a very hyperactive kid, so both parents independently would play Enya at the house to calm me down and soothe me as a kid.

MACIAS: That’s dope. What was your first concert?

POLACHEK: Oh, this is so embarrassing. My first concert was Third Eye Blind.

MACIAS: Not embarrassing.

POLACHEK: I was 14.

MACIAS: I love that journey. Do you still listen to them?

POLACHEK: No, actually. I should go back and see if “Semi-Charmed Life” holds up, and maybe it does. Good hook.

MACIAS: There you go. What’s your favorite movie soundtrack?

POLACHEK: The Edward Scissorhands soundtrack has been getting a lot of love from me recently. The Jonny Greenwood soundtrack to Phantom Thread was also kind of on repeat for me last year.

MACIAS: Who would be your dream collaborator of all time and present day?

POLACHEK: It would probably be like early ’90s Cocteau Twins and my current collab request is Post Malone. I just keep shouting this out in interviews, but if you’re reading this Posty, hit me up.

MACIAS: Honestly, that was the last thing that I was expecting.

POLACHEK: Because he’s so good, right?

MACIAS: I mean, now that you’re saying it I’m like, “Okay,” it makes sense with what you said about collaborators, so totally. I would so listen to it.

POLACHEK: Or Young Thug. Young Thug is also very high on my list. He’s one of my top favorite living vocalists, period.

MACIAS: What are some songs or artists that you would put on a road trip playlist?

POLACHEK: My favorite music playlist for my car at the moment is this EP by this artist named Doss. She is an incredible producer. This record came out in 2014 and it’s been one of my most listened to records of the year this year. The EP is called The Way I Feel and it’s just perfect car music. Not car, but traveling, perfect music for travel.

MACIAS: What would go on your house party playlist?

POLACHEK: Ian Isiah. I love his last record, The Shugga Sextape.

MACIAS: What about a breakup playlist?

POLACHEK: All the slow songs by Weyes Blood, any of them. Actually, I’ll give you a specific song actually: “Diary” by Weyes Blood.

MACIAS: What about a song that you would like to be played at your funeral?

POLACHEK: “IDL” by Life Sim.

MACIAS: If your life were a TV show, what would be the theme song?

POLACHEK: Ooh, that’s such a good one. Probably, “Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover” by Sophie B. Hawkins.

MACIAS: What about a song that reminds you of your youth?

POLACHEK: “Holiday” by Madonna, because when I got my first five-CD disc changer with an alarm built into it, that was my alarm clock every day for high school.

MACIAS: What about a song that if everyone listened to it, it would change the world?

POLACHEK: Such a good question. I’m just going to give you a simple answer. It’s the entire album. Riceboy Sleeps by Alex and Jónsi.

MACIAS: A whole album is better than one song.

POLACHEK: Yes. It’s the whole album.

MACIAS: What’s a song that you wish more people knew about?

POLACHEK: This beautiful song came out last month that I absolutely that I don’t think anyone’s really heard. It’s by Alaska Reid and it’s called “Mermaid Tears.”

MACIAS: What’s the saddest song you ever listened to?

POLACHEK: I guess this song isn’t about anything necessarily sad, but it makes me sad just because it makes me think about how inaccessible the past is, but it’s called “Boy Child” by Scott Walker.

MACIAS: What’s your favorite song of your songs?

POLACHEK: It’s a song called “Parachute” that’s on the new album.

Listen to Caroline Polachek’s “Add To Queue” playlist below, and follow Interview on Spotify for more.