Chairlift’s Caroline Polachek Made a Free Surprise Instrumentals Album That Showcases Her Production Chops

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YouTube At Copperbank - 2016 SXSW Music, Film + Interactive Festival
Caroline Polachek. Photo: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for SXSW

Though Charlift may be finished save for a few farewell shows, Caroline Polachek is just getting started. For her first act as a fully solo artist, she’s released a free surprise album of instrumentals under yet another new moniker, her initials CEP. Speaking with the Creative Independent, Polachek says she considered throwing her signature operatic vocals on the songs, but found that did a disservice to their function as useful background ambience for the daily humdrum of writing emails and commuting. But the album also serves a subtler purpose: Proving once and for all that Polachek is a producer, full stop. During her time with Chairlift, fans and critics often passed along technical credit to her bandmate Patrick Wimberly because he’s a man. It’s of course a false narrative: “I think one of the big disconnects for people is gonna be that up until this point it’s never really been clear what my relationship with production has been, compared to the clear authorship of singing. Especially when there are other names in it, especially men’s names, listeners aren’t sure who’s doing what.”

Echoing Björk’s demands for recognition as an auteur, Polachek says the fact is she and Wimberly were always creative equals behind the scenes. “Patrick’s really good about saying, ‘Actually, we both produced this.’ And that assumption [that she didn’t produce] isn’t Patrick’s fault whatsoever. More often than not, journalists will also say that Patrick produced ‘No Angel’ and I wrote it, when actually I did both,” she says of her song for Beyoncé. “My hope is that people will sort of realize that I’ve been in there the whole time. And also that it might make people look at what I do next a little bit differently.” Download her new album and wonder no more about who put in the work.

Caroline Polachek Releases Free Surprise Album