Listen to 30 seconds of any Chairlift song, and the first thing you’re bound to notice is frontwoman Caroline Polachek‘s ethereal, soaring voice. At once lilting and piercing, it’s unlike anything else on the radio today—and provides the perfect anchor for the band’s brand of ’80s synth-pop. With two albums out already and a third on the way—and their 2008 single "Bruises" likely still stuck in your head—Brooklyn-based Caroline and her bandmate Patrick Wimberly clearly aren’t the types to rest on their laurels.
And while music may be Caroline’s first love, she’s got both a strong sense of personal style and an impressive knowledge of fashion history. I caught up with the songstress at Refinery29’s 30 Under 30 party—where she was one of the 30 game-changers being celebrated, naturally—to talk about her addiction to Goodwill, her obsession with "functional fashion" and what’s next for her band.
Lucky: OK, first things first: what’s new with Chairlift?
Caroline Polachek: Well, we released our second album [Something] in January of last year, and immediately got sucked up into a year-and-a-half-long tour. Now, we’ve just built our own recording studio in middle-of-nowhere Brooklyn, in what used to be an old pharmaceutical factory. It’s small, but a really inspiring space. We have video screens playing sci-fi films on loop. I wear scrubs to the studio all the time, because it makes me feel connected to what the place used to be.
Sounds comfortable. So when can we expect some new music from you guys?
I’m thinking spring 2014. It’s definitely gonna be the most intense Chairlift record yet.
I read that you actually recorded Something in quite an unexpected place…
We wrote it in this tiny back room of an antiques store! It was amazing because it didn’t feel like we were in New York City at all—it felt like we were in some grandma’s room in the middle of Vermont. I think you can feel that in the songs, too—it’s kind of deep, back-of-the-closet stuff.
What’s inspiring you style-wise at the moment?
My secret clothing fetish right now is functional fashion—like I’ve been wearing chef’s jackets and scrubs. Outfits for other jobs. I just like dressing as things that I’m not, for careers I don’t have.
Say you had to choose another career for yourself based purely on the uniform you’d have to wear. What would you want to be?
Maybe a mime. Like, with the face paint and the black catsuit—but I’d be more of a sexy mime.
Can you share a few of your favorite shopping haunts with us?
I do most of my shopping on tour, because that’s when I start hating everything that’s in my suitcase. I do this thing while we’re on the highway where I’ll just Google Map the nearest Goodwill and make the boys pull over. As long as there’s a Burger King nearby they’re all happy.
What’s the single best thing you’ve ever found while thrifting?
A 1984 Escada jacket with dolphins all over it. It was in Australia, and I think it was actually meant for men. I felt like David Byrne in it.
How would you describe your personal style in just a few words?
Françoise Hardy—as a Disney cartoon.
Finally, in the spirit of the evening, tell us: if you could own 30 of any one thing, what would it be and why?
I would probably take 30 apartments and put them all over the world. I’m very domestic and like going home—so that way I’d have homes everywhere.
Good choice. I was sure you’d pick an article of clothing or something…
I mean, I was gonna say 30 of the black turtlenecks that Issey Miyake made for Steve Jobs, but then I thought, hey, Uniqlo already makes those—I could just go and buy them!
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