Polo are the perfect group to get to know on a Friday afternoon: consisting of Kat McHugh on vocals and Luke Lount on production and synthesizers, the twosome might hail from Leeds, but don’t expect the sparse techno or turned up Dub you would usually associate with the city. Instead, the duo specialise in a vaguely RnB inspired sound that marries crisp, intelligent production with a lyrical edge and, of course, McHugh’s strong vocals. Having formed last year, Polo’s first song to bubble up through their Souncloud was the chilling, distinctly not party-ready, ‘Party Talk’ and, most recently, they dropped a well-wrought slice of alt pop in the form of ‘Visions of Fortune’. Sensing that these two would be making a big impact over the next year, we jumped at the chance to get to know them a little better.
NEW NOISE: POLO
We have a sit down with the Leeds alt-pop duo bucking their city’s trend.
The Leeds nightlife is famously buzzing: favourite nights/Leed’s based artists – other than yourselves (obviously)?
Luke: Mixtape project at HiFi, that place plays the best music. You’ll come out soaking with sweat and you’ll always feel sad when they turn the lights on and it’s finished.
Leeds has the best music scene right now, there are amazing shows on every day at the week. You’re literally spoilt for choice. To name a few of our favourite local bands: Post War Glamour Girls, Vitamin, Krrum, Forever Cult, King No-one….
How did you guys first get together?
Kat: We met in college working on a project. Luke contacted me through a mutual ‘musicy’ friend and asked if I would help him with putting some vocals on a song. To give you an idea…it’s something we still laugh about today. It was rushed and messy but we had fun doing it. After that we starting making music in our own time. 4 years later, we live together and we make music nearly every day.
Where does the name come from: car, sport, mint, brand or none of the above?
Luke: I have a bit of an obsession with branding, but more specifically, band names. I have hundreds of ideas saved in my phone. Polo was my favourite name on the list, and it still is. I once said to Kat, “I’m not sure what Polo sound like, but that’s how I want to sound, because that sounds like a great band”.
I think a band name really introduces you, more so that your typical brand or company.
You’ve played recently with Bipolar Sunshine and Charlotte OC…tell us about that.
Kat: To be part of a show with artists who share similar genres was really eye opening. I learnt a lot as a performer and found myself being more comfortable and expressive on stage. I had listened to both artists before gigging with them, so it was definitely a confidence boost so be on the same bill as them.
Biggest musical influences for each of you?
Luke: Nils Frahm, Jeff Buckley, Cat Stevens, Grimes…
Kat: I mostly sway towards female artists if I was to talk about influence, Amy Winehouse being my biggest. Modern artists being BANKS, Lianne La Havas and The Weeknd.
What’s ‘Visions of Fortune’ about? Tell us about the process behind that track.
Luke & Kat: The name ‘Visions Of Fortune’ comes from when people look at something or someone, and envision how they can profit and exploit it/them, irrespective of the consequences.
The lyrics are based on an interaction between a woman and man, the latter harbouring his own ‘Vision Of Fortune’. He sees her at face value, and makes assumptions and comments based on that. ‘He’ is an idiot, and she knows that!
You’ve got a video on the way: what can we expect from that?
Luke & Kat: The video has been produced by Orillo Productions, who have made all of our (award winning!) music videos previously. It touches upon the themes of the song without being too literal. It’s a simple, but beautiful video.
What’s next in the pipeline after the single goes live etc.?
Luke & Kat: The next single, which we’re massively excited about. We’re exploring ourselves as artists more with each song, and we’re really finding out what we can get away with. People are responding to it too, which is very encouraging. Also, we’re starting to fill up our gig calendar too, which always makes the future more exciting.
What does success mean to you…? Platinum discs on the wall or something less commercial?
Kat: Haha well I can’t dispute that I wouldn’t feel successful having platinum disks on the wall. I think success for me would be where we are in a position where our music is self sufficient and we are influencing and inspiring people. Not to say that we’re not aiming big, were after those platinum disks still.
Talk us through an average day for you – in the studio or otherwise…
Luke: I like to get up early, and make lists of everything we need to do. I’m pretty organised, but I need to be because I work and Kat studies Law. We spend a lot of time writing, and then record any good ideas later in the week. In the evening we practice with the Dan, our drummer, in a studio around the corner. It’s nice because now we’re getting things done so efficiently.
Kat: My routine is slightly more sporadic than Luke’s, I can’t lie and say I’m as organised. I’m constantly juggling uni, band and social commitments but I like keeping busy!
Polo’s debut single is released 4th March.