Polartropica is the music endeavor of Los Angeles based, dreamy space-pop artist, Ihui (eeway) Cherise Wu. Born in Taiwan yet raised in California, Wu has created a fantastical dreamland, successfully combining quirky pop melodies, futuristic synths and classical string arrangements, resulting in a genre of ethereal fantasy dream rock that you've never heard before.
Polartropica fuses elements of complete opposites together with the outcome resulting in a unique, ethereal sound that defies all sonic worlds. Using both organic and synthetic instruments, Wu conceived a visionary dream world for listeners to escape to. Wu professes, "I wanted to create a healing, inspiring and empowering space with just the right amount of disco-party!"
Her debut album, Dreams Come True, perfectly encapsulates Polartropica's entire ethos, creating a soundtrack to her very own magical intergalactic space. Wu shares, "I get to play and work with some of the most incredibly wonderful people in the entire universe, and we always try to have as much fun as possible." Sonically the album is a delicious concoction of dreamy synth rock, fueled by stories of people, animals, world news and Wu's experiences as a queer Asian-American living in California.
The single "In Another Life" narrates karmic love and the feeling you get when meeting someone for the first time, but it instantly feels like a lifetime. The track features gliding honey-dipped vocals over laid back beats. Then there is "Can't Hold Us Back", which acts as a reminder of the love and power we have within us when faced with oppressive forces. Delightfully eccentric "Crystal Ramen" details the painful process of detaching from a relationship, idea or belief that no longer serves you. "Crystal Ramen" showcases Polartropica's kaleidoscope of soundscapes, stunningly warm yet sporadic, palpable and experimental. Finally, the empowering "Solidarity" emphasizes the importance of listening and supporting one another. "Don't let them divide us, we can accomplish incredible things when we fight together and support one another", expresses the songwriter.
Written with the intention to allow listeners to let their imagination run wild, Wu hopes her music creates little escapes from reality for anyone that is looking for a mini vacation. Having been crowned LA Weekly's 'Best Indie Pop Band of 2019', as well as landing acclaim from the likes of Billboard and LADYGUNN, among others, Polartropica is an artist to watch.
Question: How would you describe your music?
Polartropica: Like dipping into a sparkly, dreamy warm bath in a disco hot air balloon flying through a rainbow. We sound a bit like fantasy dream rock you would find in outer space.
Question: Can you tell us about Dreams Come True?
Polartropica: Polartropica's very first LP of 10 songs that will take you on a supersonic dream adventure. The record was made in Los Angeles and Tulsa, where my producer and engineer CM Rodriguez moved to a few songs into recording of the album. We collaborated with guitarist Alexander Noice on Olympia, where he shreds his guitar for human spirit and sportsmanship, Jett Kwong on her beautiful guzheng for Wild Lyfe, and Bobby Halvorson on the dark but hopeful closing track in the album, Breakthrough. My rabbit Ronnie oversaw the vinyl production so we put her on the back cover.
Question: What inspired Dreams Come True?
Polartropica: Popsicles in the summertime, the Olympics, my friend's boss at her day job, watching Netflix with your cat, opioid addiction, killer whales and wild animals in the zoo, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School's Emma Gonzalez vs. NRA's Dana Loesch at the town hall Feb 2018, interstellar love from past lifetimes, Me Too movement, fruit at the farmer's market, immigration, and so much more!
Question: How does it feel to be crowned LA Weekly's Best Indie Pop Band of 2019?
Polartropica: We are so honored! LA Weekly is so integral and such an ally to our local indie scene and community. We appreciate everything they do and there are literally so many incredible music acts in LA - we were floored and so honored that they picked us for LA Weekly's Best Indie Pop Band of 2019!
Question: Is there a particular message you hope listeners take from your music?
Polartropica: Love is everywhere, and finding the light and hope through dark times. My dream is to encourage and inspire everyone that listens to our music to live their very best life.
Question: Do you prefer performing live or recording?
Polartropica: I love both! Performing live feels like we are making a magical world to throw a party in with all of my best friends, and everyone comes to dance together and make more friends! I also love tucking away into the studio to escape the world for a bit and process them into songs.
Question: Which is your favourite song to perform live and why?
Polartropica: Disco Daydream because I get to have my dancers onstage with me and it's about escaping everyday routines and dull jobs daydreaming about going dancing with friends, watching a movie at home with your pet or going to a magical show, but it's all happening real time on stage!
Question: What motivates you most when writing music?
Polartropica: Whenever I hear music I love, usually because it created a special mood for me or brightened up a tough day, I am always so motivated by the power of sound and music to reach people in a way that other mediums cannot.
Question: Which music/artists are you currently listening to?
Polartropica: Currently listening to Susanne Sundfør, St. Vincent, Grimes, Doja Cat, Kelsey Lu, Tame Impala, Beach House, ELO, Mitski, Kim Petras, My Chemical Romance, Rachmaninov, Metronomy, MIA.
Question: What or who was your inspiration to go into the music industry?
Polartropica: I always loved film scores and sports themes, so I started on the piano and trumpet as a young child to prepare for that. I went to my first rock shows when I moved down to San Diego. Seeing acts like Muse and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs inspired me to make my own rock band.
Question: If you could collaborate with another artist, who would it be?
Polartropica: There is an incredible LA based artist and muralist named Lauren YS that I accidentally met at the LAX airport on my way to Hawaii - who's artwork is such a stunning dreamy mix of space, psychedelia, and mythical creatures - she goes by @squid.licker on IG, it would be such a dream to collaborate on some sort of magic together.
Question: What is the biggest challenge you have faced along the way to your musical success?
Polartropica: As a queer, Taiwanese-American artist, I think the biggest challenge was accepting myself and trusting my own vision and artistry, even if I didn't look or sound like anyone else. Once I did that, I started to find my beloved artist community and family, which is growing every day!
Question: What's a typical day like?
Polartropica: Snuggle with rabbit, eat delicious fruit or pastry, say hello to nature, work on music with best friends, work one of my many random jobs (music teaching, real estate, bakery), meet up with friends at art show or concerts, get a midnight snack at local taco truck or Jack in the Box.
Question: What has been your favourite part of becoming a music artist?
Polartropica: I love the sweet and wonderful folks I get to hang out with all of the time - whether it's my band or the folks from our local venues, lighting artists and sound engineers, photographers, artists, my PR agent, mentors, the bands we play with and Love Is Gay crew are all dear friends that I'm so happy I get to see literally ALL the time in Los Angeles, or on tour.
Question: What's next, for you?
Polartropica: We are finishing a short film trilogy following Part 1 "In Another Life", also working on a couple music videos and hoping to tour pending the Covid-19 pandemic. We'll be headlining the Love Is Gay Fest tentatively scheduled for 6/5 at Bootleg Theater in Los Angeles, and I'll be recording the new album this year as well!
Question: Can you share your socials?
Interview by Brooke Hunter