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INTERVIEW: Chairlift @ Parklife 2012

15 October 2012 | 4:30 pm | Gabe Gleeson

Purple Sneakers caught up with Chairlift's Patrick and Caroline at this years Parklife!

When you think about Pop music within the confines of the ‘Alternative’ genres, you are more than likely going to land on CHAIRLIFT pretty quickly.


Over the course of only six years, this New York based act have been moulding a truly unique take on what it is to make Pop music and have seen themselves become one of the worlds most popular bands of the last decade.

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Now recording as a two-piece, Chairlift, are in the midst of a year long tour schedule on the back of the release of their long awaited sophomore album, Something - an album that has been seen as yet another creative leap for the band. It has also given Australia two visits from them in the same year, the latter of which was the Parklife festival just passed.

Purple Sneakers were lucky enough to have a chat with both parts of the duo, Caroline Polacheck and Patrick Wimberly, backstage at the Melbourne leg of the festival run. Where they told us all about what they’ve been up to since their last visit, before giving us a history lesson on the renaissance – all whilst we attempted to not swoon too hard over Polacheck.

Tom Hutchins: You guys were out here earlier in the year for Laneway Festival, why are you back so soon?

Patrick Wimberly: Because we love coming to Australia.

Caroline Polacheck: Because we were invited [laughs].

TH: What have you been up to since you were last here?

CP: Touring pretty much non stop. We’ve been to a lot of places that we’ve never been before, Russia, Spain, Italy, Portugal – and we’re heading to Japan next week. It’s been a good year.

Gabe Gleeson: How were those experiences? Any wild stories?

CP: In Italy we played at the Medici Villa, which is owned by the Medici family (look them up), parts of it are as old as the 1500’s and the rest is from the 1600’s. That villa itself was the centre of the renaissance and we actually were invited to stay there for the night. When they invited us, I was like “cool, it’s probably a museum in the middle of Rome”, but when we arrived it was like stepping into a surrealist painting [laughs]. I felt like a ghost in a toga – it was the most amazing place I’ve been in my life.

PW: There was a balcony in our ‘Green Room’, which was actually a Ballroom [laughs]. If you have seen an overhead shot of Rome, it was taken from this balcony. The building is on top on the city, you can see everything.

GG: So you feel like you’re in the middle of a James Bond film?

PW: [Laughs] Yeah exactly. Mick Jones was there and had Claude Debussy’s piano in his room. So the next morning, we went to his room and our Keyboardist at the time got to play Debussy’s piano…

CP: She got to play Debussy on Debussy’s piano. It was beautiful [Laughs].

TH: Have there been any major differences in your experiences here at Parklife, compared to Laneway?

PW: It’s a much different festival. [At] Laneway the sights were really nice, the laneways had a really cool energy about them. Whilst [Parklife] is a much bigger event, and a lot of the crowd is here to see dance music. It’s an interesting blend of people.

TH: As you just mentioned, Parklife has a history of its attendees being predominantly Electronic enthusiasts, how have the crowds received your sets so far?

CP: People want to dance, which is amazing – that’s one of the things we took away from Laneway too. I think Australian’s in general just like to dance a lot more than American’s do and we love that so much.

PW: You can feel the energy within [Parklife] that this is the beginning of the warm season, where as Laneway is the end. People are ecstatic for the warm weather.

GG: Are American audiences a little harder to loosen up compared to Australians?

CP: New York audiences certainly are [Laughs], but really it depends on where you go. Bonnaroo for example, everyone is out of their minds on mushrooms and not wearing many clothes. Whereas, if you go to something like ATP (All Tomorrow’s Parties), it’s a more matured audience of chin scratchers.

TH: You guys have been around for a number of years now; do you feel that critics and crowds alike have become more responsive to your music as time has progressed?

PW: It helps that we have more material, because in some way I feel we’re a more difficult band to get or to understand - we’re not attached to a specific genre. We’ve never really known exactly what genre we are, we know we like writing Pop songs, but it doesn’t sound like Pop music.

As we get more music out there, it feels that people understand us a bit more and it feels like we have a stronger connection and have more freedom to keep doing what we want to do.

GG: You mentioned you like to write Pop songs, is that something you go for deliberately? Are you a Pop band?

CP: I don’t even know what a Pop band is exactly [Laughs], but we both love Pop songs. We are both definitely disciples of Pop.

GG: Do you write music for people to sing along to?

CP: I don’t even think of people singing along to it. I was asked in an interview a couple of days ago, if we write hooks, and I sat down and thought about that question for a while. And I realised that to me, a hook is something that is enjoyable for the brain to ride along with. You can sing along with it or dance to it, but you ride along with it – almost like a rollercoaster. And it can be like in ‘Drop It Like It’s Hot’, you know, the (makes clicking noises). You know what I mean, that’s a hook, even though it’s not melodic and it has no lyrics - and I think about that a lot more than I think about people singing along.

But speaking of singing along, we did make a point of putting subtitles on all of our music videos for this record – because, I feel that lyrics are very important to Pop music. And to me, that’s what makes Pop music so different to, say, Dance music. Lyrics aren’t as important in Dance music, it’s more about textures and emotion, whereas for Pop – it’s sentimental music.

TH: Now that your latest album, Something, has been out for a number of months, and you’ve had time to take it all in, are you still please with its outcome?

PW: Yeah, for the most part. And as the record gets further into our past, we’ll view it in a new light and we’ll realise the things we could’ve done differently. Not that we’re displeased it, but I feel we have a good idea of what we’ll do differently on the next record. I think about how much time we spent on the decisions and the process of making this record - we learned so much and we’ll know how to do it a little better next time.

Words by Gabe Gleeson & Tom Hutchins, check out their streets on POSSE.COM