Photos and Interview by Jordan Edwards
Makeup by Jill E. Clark

For her latest single, Polartropica decided to try something new. "GIVE THEM HELL (Serial Killer Slayer)" is a bright, surf rock jam perfect for a summer afternoon drive. The track is a departure from the pop sound found on her 2020 album, Dreams Come True. When it premiered in February, NPR described it as "an ode to the L.A. underground music scene and a call to listeners to gather their own community of superheroes." It's impossible not to feel pumped up after listening to it.

The Taiwan-born, Los Angeles-based musician spoke to us about making the track and its music video, which you can watch below.

"GIVE THEM HELL (Serial Killer Slayer)" has more of a rock sound compared to most of the tracks on Dreams Come True. Is this sound indicative of future releases?
We have a few gnarly surprises up our sleeves, so everyone is just going to have to wait and see. You just never really know what sort of explosive dreaminess or glittery nightmare we're cooking up over here.

The music video is wild. It includes these video game-inspired fight scenes. What was it like filming that?
Thank you! Filming the fight scenes in Chinatown with director Wes O'Connor and the talented actors, dancers, and fighters was a total thrill and joy. I still get chills thinking back to that night.

What’s your songwriting and production process? Is there a producer you really trust?
Some of the music I write we play live for a few months before heading into the studio to track. For other songs, I will make the rough demos on my own and delve deeper into the production and sound of the track while recording with my good friend, talented producer, and engineer Mike Rodriguez at his studio in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

What kind of music did you listen to growing up?
I started my musical journey playing classical piano and trumpet in orchestra and jazz bands, but always loved pop music and got into rock when I got older. My dad was super into The Carpenters and John Denver, and my mom listened to a lot of Celine Dion and Chinese pop ballads.

When did you move to the US? Why was that the right move for you?
I moved to the US when I was about 2 years old, and it was definitely the right move because I was way too young to be on my own in Taiwan.

Your style is amazing. So much color. What inspired it?
First, I am a bit like a trash panda raccoon. I enjoy bright colors, and sparkly things are delightful to play with. I won't go into it too much, but I was coming out of a depressive, dark period, and very vividly I can remember coming outside and seeing everything so bright, warm, and colorful. No matter how I'm feeling or doing, having colors on me that I enjoy sort of brings me back to that moment. I also love sportiness and mobility in my pieces, but also the contradictions of functionality and fashion. Maximalism is a major theme in my styles, but I also love outfits with clean, sleek lines. I love exploring textures--the way they feel, reflect the light, how they can invoke memory and feelings of sensuality or a completely different time and space.

Tell me about Squidtropica.
Squidtropica is an IG platform showcasing QTBIPOC artists of all mediums, resources for artists, and micro-grants periodically when available. The eclectic feed is curated mostly by Lauren YS, and occasionally Polartropica!

Who have you been listening to lately?
I have been listening to Lolo Zouaï, Lil Nas X, Megan Thee Stallion, Doja Cat.

Any shows coming up?
The best spot to stay updated on upcoming shows would be our IG! A few shows we will be officially announcing soon. At the moment, the only dates we can publicly share are WisdoMania Fest (May 15-16) and Venice Beach Pride (June 3-5).

GIVE THEM HELL (Serial Killer Slayer)

For more from Polartropica, follow her on Instagram and subscribe to her YouTube channel.

Photo Credit: Jay Em

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How would you describe yourself?

Quirky, optimistic, a dreamer.

What is the most trouble you've ever gotten into?

Wow, too many times to count. My sister and I once snuck into a Springsteen concert at Madison Square Garden - that's all I'll say.

What's your favorite song to belt out in the car or the shower?

In the car I usually belt out to any 50s or 60s songs on Sirius FM - they're all my favorite songs, anything classic.

Who is your favorite music artist?

John Lennon.

You started writing songs when you were five-years-old. What's the backstory there?

Music and lyrics just came to me, and instead of paying attention in school I would always be doodling rhymes on paper. Writing at 5 years old kept me calm and transported me into a nicer world.

What musicians influenced you the most?

Dolly Parton and the Beatles, especially Dolly because she is so talented and so nice to her fans.

How, if at all, do your musical influences shape and impact your music?

When I harmonize with myself, I do try to copy Dolly. I work with Nancy Hess, an amazing producer in Portland, OR and we use the Beatles all the time as an influence, whether it be the Hammond organ type of sound or strange, psychedelic effects. She has such an array of musical magic keys at her fingertips.

How would you describe your style of music?

Pop. Electronic. Some say Alternative.

You've released seven LPs and four EPs. Of them all, which is your personal favorite?

On the Line. That is my favorite I think. They are all special in their own way but definitely On the Line.

When you decide to write a song about a particular topic, do you make the decision consciously – "I think I'll write a song about that" – or does it just happen intuitively?

It's hardest when I set out to write a song. Usually I hear something on TV or if I hear someone playing something sad it gives me an idea to write. Normally I just memorize the melody and words in my head and then write it down later. When I used to go through breakups, that led to most of my creativity for sure.

What is your songwriting process? Do the lyrics come first, or the music?

Music and lyrics at the same time. Never have I written words without some type of melody to it.

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Ron, my guy from Manhattan Production Music, tells me all the time to write happy songs. That was my inspiration to write "Heavenly Ride." Ron! But I wanted a 60s type song, and 60s type songs were usually happy and about surfing and the sun. So I just wrote around that concept.

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"Consciousness" was definitely a sadder video. It was written for, and showed, a relationship that rather than being a positive influence on my life was really a destructive one. "Radiance" was somewhat positive. But after "Consciousness" I was determined to lighten up.

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I don't really. I just go with the flow and reach as many people as I can.

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Yes! Dates will soon be up on my website - check back soon!

Follow Kelly Padrick: Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

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