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Poliça in 2012
Poliça in 2012
Background information
OriginMinneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.
Years active2011–present
Associated acts
MembersChanny Leaneagh
Chris Bierden
Ben Ivascu
Drew Christopherson
Ryan Olson

Poliça (often stylised as POLIÇA) is an American synth-pop band from Minneapolis, Minnesota, formed in 2011. The band consists of Channy Leaneagh (vocals, synth), Chris Bierden (bass), Drew Christopherson (drums) and Ben Ivascu (drums), with Ryan Olson joining the band in a studio context as its producer.[1]

To date, the band has released five studio albums, Give You the Ghost (2012), Shulamith (2013), United Crushers (2016), Music For the Long Emergency (2018), and When We Stay Alive (2020) through Mom + Pop Music and tour internationally.[2]


According to Channy Leaneagh, Poliça is Polish for "policy", and she sees it as a reference to an unwritten code that guides the members when they play together, as well as its work ethic.[3] Despite this explanation, the Polish word for "policy" is actually polityka.[4]

In another interview, Leaneagh claimed that they wanted something unique, and she had a file on her computer which, following a corruption during a computer crash, had come back as "Poliça".[5]



From a musical family, Leaneagh attended the Ramsey Fine Arts school where she learned to dance, play violin and participated in theatre.[6] She graduated from Minneapolis South High School where she met Alexei Casselle and formed an acoustic duo, Roma di Luna. Casselle had previously been a member of hiphop group Oddjobs, but sent Leaneagh tapes of his acoustic songs while she was in Cambodia teaching art for a year.[7] In June 2005, Leaneagh and Casselle were married.[8] As a member of the folk-rock duo Roma di Luna,[9] Leaneagh played violin and performed on the three self-released albums by the band.[10] In November 2008, Leaneagh gave birth to a daughter, Pelagia.[11][12]

After a marital and professional break-up, the singer was looking for a 'creative release' that eventually became Poliça.[1] The origins of the band were found in Ryan Olson's Gayngs project, where Leaneagh featured as a backing singer. After working together on some musical and lyrical ideas, Olson convinced Leaneagh to record the songs over the summer of 2011 with an R&B sound.[13] Experimenting with various vocal effects, the duo drafted in Chris Bierden (bass/vocals), Drew Christopherson (drums) and Ben Ivascu (drums) to complete the sessions that also featured a guest-appearance by Mike Noyce (Bon Iver).[14] Olson declined to be part of a live set-up and Bierden, Christopherson and Ivascu together with Leaneagh became the Poliça touring outfit.[13] They made their live-debut on September 4, 2011 at Nick and Eddie, Minneapolis and made two songs, 'Dark Star' and 'Lay Your Cards Out (feat. Mike Noyce)', available on their website.[15] For the rest of the year, the band toured, partly as support to Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. The band also received support from Bon Iver founder Justin Vernon who told Rolling Stone, "They're the best band I've ever heard."[1]

Give You the Ghost[edit]

Their debut, Give You the Ghost, was released on Valentine's Day, 2012 on Totally Gross National Product, a local community-based label, founded by drummer Drew Christopherson and Ryan Olson. The main reason to self-finance was 'to put the record out' as soon as possible'.[16] In March 2012, the band played at SXSW in Austin, Texas, where NPR wrote that 'Where Give You the Ghost gives the suggestion of a subdued live presence, Polica's stage show heads to somewhere approaching the opposite extreme — a welcome jolt of beauty and power.'[17] During a Polica live performance Leaneagh uses effect pedals to stylize and manipulate her voice.[18]

The summer of 2012 saw the band tour parts of Europe and play a handful of festivals together with Bon Iver. In August 2012, it was announced that the band had signed with Mom + Pop records and re-released the album on the 14th of that month, together with a remix EP.[19] In October, they returned to the UK for an appearance on Later... with Jools Holland and a 16-date UK/European tour.[20]


In the first half of 2013, Olson and Leaneagh began working on new music, described by the singer as 'Drums. Bass. Synths. Me, Women'. Much of this was done by e-mail as the band continued to tour and Olson was spending time in Brazil.[21] Much of the actual recording was completed at the April Base studios of Bon Iver in Wisconsin.[22] Their second album, Shulamith was released on October 20, 2013 and preceded by the single 'Tiff' featuring Justin Vernon.[23] Both the video for "Tiff" and the artwork of the album were described as "brutal".[21]

As part of the promotional mix, the band played BBC2's Later... with Jools Holland on October 11, 2013 and, three days later, on BBC Radio 6 Music's Lauren Laverne show from Maida Vale Studios in London. The title of the album is a reference to the feminist Shulamith Firestone, who Leaneagh described as her 'muse and mentor'. In contrast to the previous album, the singer 'had more time with each song this time, but the lyrics and melodies are still based on that first reaction'.[21] Leaneagh was also among the "friends" that contributed to The Flaming Lips' "The Time Has Come to Shoot You Down… What a Sound," a reworking of the Stone Roses debut album out Black Friday 2013.[24]

In June 2014 the band released the Raw Exit EP that consisted of four outtakes from the Shulamith sessions.[25] The four songs included three originals and one cover of "You Don't Own Me".[26] It was also included in the expanded version of the album that was released simultaneously and supported by a North American club tour and festival dates in Europe.[27]

Poliça appearing at SXSW 2016

United Crushers[edit]

Leaneagh began writing material in 2013 and continued to do so between tours.[28] The material was completed in the first half of 2015 and the band began rehearsals in preparation of recording. At the start of April, they embarked on a nine-date tour to perform the new songs.[29] The second half of the month was used to record the album at the Sonic Ranch residential studio in Texas.[28] In 2015 Leaneagh and Olson got married and had a son in October of the same year.[28]

The band released their third album, United Crushers, on March 4, 2016.[30] Again produced by Ryan Olson the track "Lime Habit" was released online in November 2015.[31] The album was recorded over 10 days in El Paso. Leaneagh described it as "I saw this record as my last chance [and] wanted it to have a 'final paper' feel."[32]

Music for the Long Emergency[edit]

Poliça teamed up with s t a r g a z e, a Berlin-based orchestral collective, to develop the new album, Music for the Long Emergency which was released on February 16, 2018 on Transgressive Records.[33] The two groups first met on February 2016 in Berlin[34] during the Liquid Music project hosted by the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, and first worked together on Bruise Blood: Reimagining Steve Reich's 'Music for Pieces of Wood'.[35] The two groups worked for 18 months on the new album. The first single is a ten-minute song, "How Is This Happening", which Leaneagh wrote on the day after the 2016 U.S. presidential election.[33] They released a short film to accompany the song in May 2018.[36]

When We Stay Alive[edit]

On October 9, 2019, the band announced that their fifth studio album, When We Stay Alive will be released on January 31, 2020.[37]



Year Album Peak positions


2012 Give You the Ghost 47 62 86
2013 Shulamith 47 69 141 93 85 33
2016 United Crushers 52 178 72
2018 Music for the Long Emergency (with s t a r g a z e) 142
2020 When We Stay Alive[37]

Extended plays[edit]

  • Raw Exit (2014)


Year Single Peak positions Album




2012 "Dark Star"  –  – 2  – 42 Give You the Ghost
"Wandering Star"  –  – 36  –  –
"Lay Your Cards Out"  –  – 62  –  –
2013 "Form"  –  – 82  –  –
"Tiff" (feat. Justin Vernon)  –  –  –  –  – Shulamith
"Chain My Name"  –  – 60  –  –
2015 "Lime Habit"  –  –  –  –  – United Crushers
2016 "Wedding"  –  –  –  –
2017 "How Is This Happening"  –  –  –  –  – Music for the Long Emergency
2019 "Driving"  –  –  –  –  – When We Stay Alive
"Forget Me Now"  –  –  –  –  –
2020 "Steady"  –  –  –  –  –
"Sea Without Blue"  –  –  –  –  –

*Did not appear in the official Belgian Ultratop 50 charts, but rather in the bubbling [?] under Ultratip charts.


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External links[edit]