A Diverging River
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It's been a minute.  But it's been a good minute.

The last time I blogged, we were on the verge of releasing "Knives Among the Orchids"... well, as you may know, we decided to shelve it.  It was a funny situation that led to the decision.

"Knives Among the Orchids" - at its conception - was intented to be an aggressive turn in direction... shooting away from the California vibe that we have loved so dearly in the past and heading into darker territory... and we loved it.  We really did.  But there was just one problem.  Two problems, actually.

The first problem was a song called "Someone to Break My Heart" and the other was "Creating Mr. Wonderful". 

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You see, while we were indulging in our hard rock fancy, a couple songs just popped into my head one day.  And I mean popped.  Songwriting is a funny thing, but sometimes songs just pour out of you... and they tend to be the best ones.  Well, these two beachy jams were instantly there and we said "whoa, these are great but they sound like an entirely different album".  I even came up with a name for that imaginary, beachy album: "The Waves Within".

Initially, the idea was to release "Knives Among the Orchids" and follow it up with a chill beach record called "The Waves Within"... but, as the release date for "Knives" crept ever closer, we found ourselves collaborating on new songs that really seemed to fit with "The Waves Within"... songs like "Wait Forever" and "Nightmare" were among the first... and, honestly, we just thought they were better songs.

The nail in the coffin came when we passed our record along to our good friend Don Grierson.  Don is a legend in the world of A&R.  Seriously, just look him up.  Because he has been responsible for so much of the music that we know and love.  I won't get into his resume here, but he is amazing... and a wonderful friend.

We shared "Knives Among the Orchids" with him and we shared the acoustic demos we had from "The Waves Within".  From 'Knives', he liked our song "Writing on the Wall", which was the sole single from the album we released.  But he preferred the songs we had written for "The Waves Within"... and that really did it for us.  We trust Don's judgment always.

I suppose there was one other reason we decided to go with the "Waves Within" material... as I described earlier, "Knives" would have been a strong change in direction... whereas "The Waves Within" felt natural, like a better version of the same Polaris Rose concept that was present on "Ocean Blue, Velvet Skies" and "Telescopes"... yeah, we just felt like it was the right next step.  It made sense.

We have no idea if we'll ever release "Knives Among the Orchids".  Maybe if people want to hear it.  But, looking back, Maddie and I both feel like it's a record we needed to make but it's not really Polaris Rose.  It was an evil twin.  A bizarro-world version of what we do.  But we still love it and value what it meant in our lives.  But we're even more thrilled with "The Waves Within"- how it sounds and what it means for us moving forward.

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Madelynn Elyse
Playing with KNIVES

First off, thank you so much to everyone who has made it out to our last few shows.  From our acoustic performance at Hotel Cafe to two nights at the Virgil… we really had a great time meeting new faces and playing music we love.  :)  Special Thanks to ROVE and ALL SCENE EYE for inviting us out.

AND.  We’ve been working for the last year on a new record… quietly obsessing over the right tone and song choices.  The album is part 3 of our 6-album story and it’s called ‘Knives Among the Orchids’.  

A bit about the writing… while we were completing work on ‘Ocean Blue, Velvet Skies’, we knew that we wanted to take the sound in a more aggressive direction… without losing the ‘prettiness’ or the dynamics.  So I started writing a new record… thinking all the while about desert landscapes and the fate of the American Dream.  

This is the original album design (since scrapped for something more befitting of the final album)…

The first two songs I wrote were ’SodaJerk’ and ‘Stars & Stripes’.  The second Maddie heard them, she put her foot down (as she does often) and said: “We are putting these on ‘Ocean Blue, Velvet Skies’.”  I resisted, claiming that they conceptually belonged on our ‘desert record’.  But Maddie got her way.  And I’m happy she did.

As the writing continued, Maddie really wanted to bring a bit more of a dirty blues vibe to it. So we kind of did… although I’m not sure you’d be thinking ‘blues’ if you heard it.  But it’s there.  Faint remnants of ye old 12-bar.  So, we reshaped the record together and dreamt up new artwork.

Just yesterday, we completed drums with Kiel Feher at his studio: the Spirit Lodge.  For those who don’t know, Kiel is the drummer for Polaris Rose who doesn’t pose for the band photos but plays a killer kit.  He is an amazing musician, with an vast instinctual understanding of what a song needs.  

You can watch a video of us recording a song called ‘Goodnight Daylight’.

3 songs from ‘Knives Among the Orchids’ were actually completed months ago.  John Spiker mixed and mastered for us.  We’ve been floating them to different people in different places and we’ve been really thrilled with the response.  Even better, we’ve been playing a couple of the songs live… and the response there has been pretty enthusiastic.  :)

‘Knives Among the Orchids’ is 9-songs… and we think it’s our best work.  We think you’ll agree.  You’ll probably hear the first single in January.  We’ve got a lot of work to do from now till then.  We have 4 songs that need vocals to be tracked.  We have at least one music video to shoot.  We’ve got the art already.  And we’ve already begun booking shows for the spring.

A video posted by Polaris Rose (@polaris_rose) on Nov 3, 2016 at 9:12pm PDT

rose

Take a listen to ‘Rose’.  It’s the latest featured single from our album “Ocean Blue, Velvet Skies”.  Partially inspired by the character Rose from Titanic, partially inspired by a more general sense of sharing the sunset on a beach with a special someone.  I also meant for the sunset to symbolize death and the passing of time and how our lives/loves are fleeting... but I'm told that particular message isn't all that apparent.  haha.

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Madelynn Elyse
Tonight at the Mint

Tonight we are playing at the Mint here in LA!  It’s a busy day, but I still wanted to get this blog done.  I’ve been putting it off for far too long haha.

First off, the first single from our upcoming album Ocean Blue, Velvet Skies is out!  The song is called TigerBait.

We’ve been very happy to see the response the song has been getting.  Bucket Full of Nailssaid, “A portmanteau of David Cassidy-era fervor and today’s data-driven reality, new single “TigerBait” from Los Angeles-based duo Polaris Rose is an analog plea for physical contact and human connection.”. 

I also had the chance to interview with Kira from Roll the Dice and Play Niceand it was a really fun one!  A little excerpt from Kira’s introduction:

“TigerBait” does juggle lots of pieces: The steady, consistent chug of tightly layered guitars; an extremely catchy, synth driven melodic hook; lyrics that take on unexpected syllabic emphasis, thanks to syncopated rhythms (What I know / is tragically subjective / a three ringed show); a striking guitar solo and perfectly aligned vocal harmonies galore. Top that with interval and chord combinations – created by the vocal and instrumental parts together – which oscillate the track between singable major and dissonant minor, and this song might sound like compositional chaos. Yet, much like the intricate power-pop works assembled by Rivers Cuomo, Elyse and Anthony have shrewdly delegated each piece of TigerBait’s puzzle into something that is indeed wholly irresistible –in the best possible way.” -  Kira Grunenberg

Check out the full interview HERE.

We have been hard at work on music videos.  First up is the video for TigerBait, which we’re really happy with.  Kind of a classic Polaris Rose video, with the whole collage of old footage with simple performance shots.  Last week, we traveled down to Joshua Tree with our good friend and dp David Walk, as well as our friend and producer Mohamed Omar.  They helped us film a video for our second single which is - we think - definitely our best video to date.

So, tonight we are performing at the Mint, and it’s a special night because we will be joined by long-time friend Elliot Klein, who we were close with back in Boston.  He has brought a lot of great guitar work to these new songs!

We are rehearsing this afternoon, learning a new song last minute before the show (at Maddie’s behest), and then going out for a good-old band dinner.  Hopefully we’ll see you tonight at the mint!

WOW wow wow!  Today was one of the coolest musical experiences of our lives.

I’ll give you the long story…

Maddie and I woke up at 8am.  Actually, Maddie woke up at 8am and (in typical Maddie fashion) proceeded to pester me until I emerged from my slumber.  We made a quick cup of coffee and got ourselves moving.  Traffic over Laurel Canyon was a drag, but we soon found ourselves in Culver City.  We were at the grumpy/bitchy/nasty stage of our morning.  Thankfully, Tender Greens opened at 11, so we swung inside and scarfed down two fancy salads (hooray for veggies!)  Even better, TG’s had cold brew.  Huzzah!  Sweet life-saving nectar!

12 noon rolled around and we made our way to Sony Pictures.  After a minute of confusion with security, we found ourselves at the end of the rainbow at the Thalberg building.  We descended into the screening rooms, where (at an amazing spot called the Bakery) we were scheduled to master our album “Ocean Blue, Velvet Skies” with the phenomenal Eric Boulanger.  John Spiker - our mixer - joined us as well.  After some hellos and chit-chat, we dove into the record.  Eric pulled up our song “Rose” first, working his magic with tremendous refinement.  Maddie and I sat back and smiled, not entirely sure what he was doing but loving it all the while.

The day was a lot of fun.  We hung out, we chatted, talked music, watched videos made by the ‘my talking pet’ app… all the while, we listened to Spiker’s amazing mixes of 'Ocean Blue, Velvet Skies’ come even more alive.  It seemed like everyone had a good time and everyone was in good spirits.

So.  Basically.  Incredible.

Out of our hands...

That’s it.  About an hour ago, I sent off the final two songs to be mixed.  There’s still work left to do, of course.  Mastering and packaging… music videos and online campaigns.  But the album itself has left our hands.  And it’s now in the phenomenal mixing hands of John Spiker.  Thus far, he has mixed 4 of the 9 songs that will compromise “Ocean Blue, Velvet Skies” and we couldn’t be happier!

 

It’s been a long road, but Maddie and I are feeling very positive about this album.  "Ocean Blue, Velvet Skies" is our idea of what a sunset sounds like.  Saying that is pretty lofty, but it’s the image we had in our heads working on this record.  30+ songs demoed, constant talks with our manager to refine the sound and vision, and now the big payoff: hearing the final tracks.

We have some shows coming up this November and December… and we have a music video to make.  The first single off ‘Ocean Blue, Velvet Skies’ probably won’t appear until February… but we’ll be furiously busy until then.  There’s always a lot going on behind the scenes, to get things moving.

 

I’ve been writing songs for our next album too, and I feel like it will be a great next step that takes what 'OBVS’ does and travels into a new direction.  Ultimately, this is where my brain really is right now.  Wrote a song last night that has really excited me, called 'Someone to Break my Heart’.