Waveform 054: Polli Ji

Our 54th edition of our regular mix series comes from Hamburg’s most exciting new prospect, and Suara’s latest signing, Polli Ji. The Waveform Transmitter’s Ste Knight takes listen to the EP, and chats to Polli about her production approach, how she came to DJing, and her brilliant new five-tracker. 

(Tracklist at foot of page)

The minute we were introduced to the first few bars of Polli Ji‘s debut EP, Meant To Be, we knew we were onto something pretty special. Not only had the record been picked up by Suara label-head, Coyu, but the sounds that pulsated – in the most unrelenting of fashions – through our eardrums in those initial beats of Sad Girl, instantly had us baying hungrily for more.

Polli demonstrates equal panache behind the decks as she does in the studio. Her DJ sets are as minacious as her productions – take a listen to her Polli Power sessions (once you’ve given her Waveform Mix a thorough listen, though!) if you need any more evidence.

Polli will undoubtedly be a welcome appointment by Coyu, especially given the standard of her first release, which was treated to a remix of Meant To Be by the label head himself. Suara dropped the EP on July 29th, and you can grab yourself a copy, here.

Props to Coyu, as well, for sticking to his guns. Back in 2018 he posted a heartfelt message to fans via his Fcaebook profile, that he hated what the label had become and he was moving away from..well…so much ‘tech house’…to bring us interesting and different artists. Polli is one such signing, and her record demonstrates that perfectly.

All of that said, now seems like an appropriate juncture to look at the release in more detail. Soooo…

To begin with, it is of note that the title track boasts a choral pad, and an overall feel, that is vaguely reminiscent of Cygnus X, in particular their most widely-known epic, The Orange Theme. This, all layered with elements of electro and industrial techno to maximum effect, is more than enough to jolt any unsuspecting passive listener into an altogether more active participant.

Coyu‘s remix of Meant To Be drops a lot of the vocal out, but does give those haunting pads a boost in their place, rendering the production with less of a trance-like vibe and deploying more of a warehouse-techno trajectory. Both tracks have equal weight on the EP and Coyu‘s rerub adds a different flavour to the arrangement that is just as welcome as the original.

Before the title track kicks in, though, we are treated to a superhuman dose of furious acid techno with an insistent industrial edge, as Sad Girl opens proceedings up. Listen to this track and you’ll know what we mean when we say we were jumping out of our seats, when we played it for the first time. Unleash this on a dancefloor and your audience WILL explode into a fine crimson mist. Caution advised, as those rasping claps that enter the fray truly elevate the listener.

The vocals in Sad Girl, and on the EP in general, reminded me of Louisahhh‘s A Trap I Built, which was released back in December 2017, or one of Miss Kittin‘s outings. It is these nuances that we felt drew upon Polli‘s electro influences, with the spoken elements in particular playing an important role in giving the tracks that electro flavour.

Coyu‘s remix of Meant To Be, is up next, which is swiftly followed by the pulverising, merciless percussion in the jackhammer joyride that is Choices. An ecstatic vocal sample echoes around the sonic terrain, as Polli talks us through a series of ‘dirty choices’‘Holding hands, have some drinks, dirty choices, dirty things’ all rounding up to give electroclash a filthy techno workout. Polli kicks her mix off with this track…you have been warned.

Polli Ji certainly isn’t for letting up as Savage rears its head and rips us all to shreds. An angry acid bassline rises up through the henchmen’s march of the kick-drum like a plume of demonic smoke. This is the kind of track that punches you in the throat and then kicks you full force in the stomach. Powerful, energetic and relentless. Truly formidable and heralding the rise of a new revolution – we can’t WAIT to hear this one played out.

As the EP closes out on the original mix of Meant to Be, we really have to say, hand on our collective heart, that Polli Ji is one of the most exciting artists we have heard this year, and it is going to take a LOT to beat her when it comes to our end of year round-up. It is serendipitous that the finale features a call to feel the joy’, when our recent Editor Selects column spoke of how music made us feel.

This is a rousing first release from an incredibly talented artist, and Polli Ji is tipped by The Waveform Transmitter for big things. You heard it here first…

You are undoubtedly listening to Polli‘s mix as we speak, and the tracklist is at the bottom of the page, so we urge you to take a read of her interview, below, in which she talks to Ste Knight about her new release, Chicks On Speed, and what she has lined up for us all next.

Waveform: Hi Polli. Thank you for taking time out to chat with us. This must be an exciting time for you, as you have just dropped your first release on Suara – your Meant to Be EP.

Polli Ji: Hi, happy to do the interview with you! Yes, it is an exciting time indeed! It is my first release ever – then on Suara is really a dream come true for me!

Waveform: Suara is a pretty big label! Can you tell us a little about how this came to be?

Polli Ji: Coyu and I played at the same festival in Mainz, Germany, and I had the chance to meet him and talk a lil’ bit to him. After about a month or so I got in touch with him again and asked if he has time to listen to my demos and he said yes!

I was so motivated and tried to produce, and send to him, as much as possible and he ended up taking 4 tracks of mine and did a remix on top, which was just sooo super nice of him! During the whole process, and still, he supports me so much and I am super happy and thankful that I was able to meet him.

Waveform: You are based in Hamburg and have been for nine years. What made you decide to set up base there, as opposed to heading to Berlin as seems to be ‘the norm’ for many producers nowadays?

Polli Ji: I wasn’t a producer when I moved to Hamburg. Actually, I moved here to study. But soon I got to know HEERHORST who was a big name with his project Fukkk Offf in those days. He introduced me into music production which opened a whole new world for me and ever since I have been addicted to it. So, I’m a producer for almost 7 years now.

Waveform: Meant to Be kicks off with Sad Girl. Is there any meaning behind the title? Does it convey how you felt when you produced the track?

Polli Ji: I mean, I can be very sad from time to time but also very happy so I definitely can relate to ’Sad Girl’ However, what ended up being the inspiration, was that one of my favourite artists, Brooke Candy, was coming to town and she has a tattoo on each hand; one ‘Sad’ and one ‘Girl’ – she is just awesome and inspires me a lot!

Waveform: Your EP is clearly techno, and sits on the heavier side, but some of the elements seem to come from an electro angle, like the vocals for example. Do you think this is an influence that has come from Hamburg? The electro scene there is pretty big, right?

Polli Ji: When I moved to Hamburg there was a big time for electro ”house”, the sound who was invented/characterized by artists like Boysnoize or the French duo, Justice, for example. This sound was big all over the world and definitely had a great impact on me.

For the vocals, in particular during this time, the tracks by Uffie inspired me a lot to do vocals on my own. Also tracks such as ‘Missy Queen’s Gonna Die’ by Tok Tok and Soffy O or ‘Kaltes Klares Wasser‘ by Malaria and Chicks On Spead which was earlier but still have a great impact on me. Nowadays for ”classic” electro music it is, of course, Helena Hauff here in Hamburg; she is absolutely amazing and inspiring!

Waveform: Are the vocal aspects of your EP your own handiwork?

Polli Ji: Yes, they are. In my producing process I’m simply to too lazy to search for fitting vocal samples or ask someone else 😉 So, I always end up making my own. It´s the same with effects in my productions – I always make my own instead of looking for samples. Also, it is just super fun for me to write lyrics and record the vocals.

But, on the other hand, it´s of course much more personal and emotional for me. However, I really enjoy that I am able to do so, that I have it all in my own hands and give the track what it in my opinion needs.

Waveform: You have previously played schranz and hard techno parties, and your EP is pretty damn banging! Was this a natural progression for you, from your experiences DJing into your production style?

Polli Ji: I was just a guest on those parties. I started DJing in March 2018, so I am a producer much longer than a DJ. But starting with DJing definitely helped me a lot in my production process.

Waveform: You have put together a mix for our Waveform series. Can you talk us through your mix process? What made you select the tracks you did for this mix in particular?

Polli Ji: I followed my Polli Power Mix Series with the track selection and of course, wanted to put as much of my latest release in it as possible 🙂 So the Mix is raw, punky and underground, I would say, and I hope you enjoy it!

Waveform: We’re sure we will! A little more about your DJ sets; what are three tracks you will always go to energise a dance-floor?

Polli Ji: At the moment, I love to play the Cleric remix of ‘Show Me That Light’ from Kwartz; ‘Metal Knight’ from Azlack; and ‘When I Rock’ from Elektrochemie LK.

Waveform: And in terms of influences, who do you cite as being most pivotal in the development of your sound, if anyone?

Polli Ji: I am really open when it comes to music and get my influences crossover genres as there are soo many great artists and music out there. I especially love artists with a punky attitude like Peaches and, as already mentioned, Brooke Candy. Great producers like Boysnoize, Gesaffelstein, Thomas Schumacher for example, and psychedelic rock like Tame Impala, just to name a few.

Waveform: What do we have to look forward to from Polli Ji in the near future? Have you any more releases planned? What about playing out – any gigs coming up you’d like to mention?

Polli Ji: There’s no release planned, yet, but working on new stuff constantly as I just love producing and being in the studio so much!

Gig-wise the next gig in Hamburg will be on the 24th of August Lichtspiele Openair and then of course, I am looking forward to making my Liverpool, and England, debut in November. Details to follow on that one 😉

Waveform: We look forward to finding out more! Thanks again Polli for chatting with us. Best of luck with your new release and for the future!

Polli Ji: Thank you so much, it was a pleasure!

So there we have it, and if our exclusive mix has whet your appetite, we even have the scoop on Polli Ji‘s debut here in the UK, in Liverpool of all places! We’ll look forward to that one…

You can check out the tracklist below, but first a message from our editor…

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Polli Ji – Choices
Regal – Acid Affair Part 1
Panic Dispenser – Pncdspnsr
Polli Ji – Sad Girl
Slam – Cyclone
Scalameriya – Will-O-Wisp
Azealia Banks ft. Lazy Jay – 212
Rebekah – Enigma
Aert – The Underground
Polli Ji – Savage
Demia E.Clash & Know Kontrol – Inside (Ethan Fawkes Remix)
PØLI & Lorenzo Raganzini – Raving In Paris (Insolate Remix)
PØLI & Lorenzo Raganzini – The Last Station
Polli Ji – Meant To Be

Author: Ste Knight

Editor at The Waveform Transmitter. Lover of acid basslines, cavernous kick drums, and dark rooms. Cut his teeth to Surgeon's blistering techno assault at T-Funkshun in Liverpool and hasn't stopped for breath since.

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