Polo & Pan Create Magic on Long-Awaited LP, Cyclorama [Interview]
The power music can hold is quite astonishing—from the tingling excitement of hearing your favorite song to the tears shed watching a beloved group perform live, front and center.
French electro-pop duo, Polo & Pan, harnessed these emotions and poured it all into their sophomore LP, Cyclorama, which released today, June 25. Made up of DJ’s Polocorp (Paul Armand-Delille) and DJ Peter Pan (Alexandre Grynszpan), the international act gained massive traction in the U.S. during their first stateside tour for their debut album, Caravelle.
Following a boost from their remix of Remi Wolf’s track, “Hello Hello Hello,” making waves in iPhone 12 commercials, Polo & Pan became global icons and are paving the way for Franco-electronic music around the world.
Now that live music has been reinvigorated, the dynamic duo is ready to grace us with their presence back on tour and this latest body of music. Cyclorama is a vibrant masterpiece from start to finish, and takes listeners through the cycles of life.
“The Caravelle album was more of a trip through space,” Polo explained to MP3 MAG via Zoom. “Cyclorama’s concept is more of a trip through time. The lifetime of every human being. We’re at this moment in our lives where like… Alex just became a dad and I’m turning 40, so we’re kind of looking at the midway point through the path of life.”
Although Caravelle depicted similar themes like “youthful inspirations and nostalgia,” Cyclorama is more “balanced,” said Polo. Caravelle is the eccentric, light-hearted acid trip that introduced Polo & Pan and their one-of-a-kind flair. While Cyclorama is also a psychedelic delight, this LP takes an existential turn and studies aging, the passage of time and release of one’s inner child.
The opening song was for the birth of Alex’s son, ‘Côme.’ Later, ‘Requiem’ represents the ‘death’ song.
“Côme” is a joyous introduction that sets the tone and theme for the rest of the album. A heart beats in the background of an alluring melody that sounds like a fairytale sunrise. One that quickly captures attention, curiosity and excitement for the rest of the album. Like the essence of life’s beginning, this invites listeners to want to learn and explore more.
The album also features some milestone, full -circle moments for the duo. “Bilbouqet,” another playful, reminiscent track features the French-Romanian film composer and conductor, Vladimir Cosma. With over 300 scores for featured films under his belt and countless awards and accolades, Cosma is a musical and cinematic legend in Europe—and has been admired by Polo & Pan since they were young.
“We grew up with him and cinema as kids in the 70’s, so that’s the childhood aspect,” said Polo. “But when we performed [this song] with him, he was 80 years old, so all these songs have different ways to relate to the concepts of life and it’s cycles.”
The average musician or storyteller could dive into these themes and create a decent album, chronologically from life to death. But Polo & Pan are not average nor decent when it comes to their work. They aspire to transcend.
“At first, we thought we would build the album based on the order of life, but we realized if we did, we would be trapped into this concept,” Polo said. “It’s more like, first, we created all these songs. Then, we were like, ‘Ok, what kind of story can we tell around this? It’s an extra layer that we laid over the music so people can imagine and interpret it differently.
We don’t want to be too precise, we want to keep it like an open ended question. Everyone has a different life and experience.”
With such a personal and inviting project, there would seem to be quite a few stand out moments for the producers. When asked if he had a favorite track or two, Polo was modest (and funny).
“I mean, we poured so much into every song, you know? That’s like asking who’s your favorite kid right now?,” he laughed. “Like which one is going to die, which is going to live?”
Both artists shared their excitement to connect these interpersonal moments in the album with new ones live. Polo stands by his 14-way tie for favorite track on the LP, but he did mention his excitement to play the upbeat hits, “Feel Good” and “Magic” in front of crowds—and hopefully one day, at Burning Man. “I think that was the idea for ‘Magic,.” he said. “[As for] ‘Feel Good,’ I’m excited because it’s the first song where I sing.”
The album also encapsulates many of the scenes and settings that have decorated the artists careers and live thus far. For Polo & Pan, “back home” is in Paris, but their hearts (and stomachs) reside in Mexico, likely eating tostadas.
“We’re there all the time. It’s our favorite place,” Polo said of Mexico. “We went there on New Years to play in Tulum, and that was really fun.”
Now that the vivacious pair are back in work-mode, they’re ready to share the next chapter of their musical journey. Polo & Pan’s surreal interpretation of life and time has long been an aesthetic for their colorful palettes, but with Cyclorama they are able to fully exude their vision through sound.
“Peter Pan,” the final song of Cyclorama, is the cherry on top of this bubbly, rhythmic and whimsical ice cream sundae of an album. It’s a calm, sweet, yet melancholy reminder that despite whatever age or point we are in life, there is still youth and imagination within us. We just have to be willing to let it out.
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