Story / Chloe Robinson
Photos / Olivia Hemaratanatorn
Whimsical electro-psych pop artist Polartropica is all about compassion and understanding in her newest single, ‘Golden Soul.’ With a unique dreamlike sound and soft ethereal vocals, Polartropica’s track allows you to escape to an inspiring world filled with empowerment and healing. A place centered on understanding one another’s differences instead of judging others for them. With a quirky melody and ultramodern synths, this bubblegum psychedelic single gives hope that there is good in the world and that everyone has the power to find their golden soul. I got the chance to interview Polartropica and discover what drives her to make such inspirational music.
Has your music always been in the electro-psych pop vein or did you ever experiment with other genres as well?
I’ve played classical, rock, funk, contemporary, folk music in other times of my life, so bits of those genres will make their way into Polartropica’s electro-psych pop. I love movie soundtracks and cinematic music so a lot of our tracks will start out as soundscapes or I craft the music with an image or scene in mind.
The idea for the video for ‘Golden Soul’ deals with someone who appears to be good (heroine) and a character who is appears evil (villain), but the villain the struggles throughout the video with whether to be cruel or kind. In the end though, she decides to set aside her differences with the heroine after discovering what appears to be the golden soul inside her heart. This imagery fits so well with the song’s lyrics. What was your process in coming up with the video’s concept?
I worked with super dream team Grant White and Sam Sitar, director/cinematographers of White Sitar, who crafted the concept for the video around the idea behind the song – that there is a humanity we all share, even when it seems like our differences set us apart. The tigercat villian is fighting an internal battle and finally remembers her childhood experiences as a kitten with her baby strawberry heroine friend, which ultimately influences the outcome of the music video. Grant and Sam are such a fun, wonderful duo, and they built the story with Polartropica’s fantastical world in mind – we knew that we wanted a magical fruit themed heroine, which ended up being a strawberry played by friend Lauren Kop of Mini Bear. I have many stage personas that are usually shiny, glittery outer-space themed – but for the villian, we used my tigercat character. It was wonderful making this with Sam and Grany – they created such a beautiful contrast between the real world and dreamy inner workings of the mind and heart in this video.
The meaning behind the name Polartropica stems from Polar and Tropical, two things that don’t belong together and creating a place where things like that exist. Can you explain that idea in more detail?
I love the idea of a magical world that things can exist that wouldn’t normally be possible. Like a polar bear relaxing on a tropical island, or flamingo hanging out with penguins on an iceberg with rainbows made up of flying fish! It brings me so much joy knowing that in creating music, art, movies, we can create these beautiful, psychedelic worlds and anything is possible. The name is also a reminder not to take ourselves too seriously and always have fun in the process, which we always do!
Your music is so empowering and centered on a sense of healing through understanding others, is this something you strive for in your everyday life?
A lot of the music I write is in response to something I’m experiencing or things I see my friends and loved ones going through that is difficult for me to express or talk about in real life… and so the only way I can express the way it feels inside is to make it into a song. I hope that the music can be empowering and healing – it is definitely something I strive for. There is so much going on all the time in this world, and we all share so many of these experiences without realizing it – and that’s what I love about music. When it comes from a place of love, and it’s real and genuine, music has a way of bringing people together.
How has being born in Taiwan and raised in California influenced your musical style?
I didn’t realize until recently how much I am subconsciously influenced by 80s and 90s Chinese and Taiwanese pop music that my mom used to listen to. Although I never sought it out, there was always some of that playing in the background! I’ve been in California since I was 2, and as a kid I remember my friends and I listened to a mix of No Doubt, Beach Boys, Nirvana, Weezer, Destiny’s Child, Blink 182, Beach Boys, Red Hot Chili Peppers and all of the fun 90s pop growing up. Even when the music has darker subjects, California’s cinematic, sunny, fun, chill cruising vibe definitely makes its way into the music as well.
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