Chairlift Explains Why New Yorkers “Cry In Public”

You’ve heard Chairlift more often than you think—in 2008, their track “Bruises” made its way onto one of Apple’s most infamous commercials, turning the electronic duo into an overnight sensation. Caroline Polachek and Patrick Wimberly quickly followed up by signing to a major label and becoming a beloved staple in the indie-music scene.

Today marks the release of their third studio album, Moth, demonstrating a new, awesome, more internationally-influenced sound, and Polachek and Wimberly stopped by to celebrate, while reflecting on their last album, and quintessential New York experiences as an influence for their new work.

“It wasn’t until maybe two years after the last record had come out, and after we finished touring, that we started feeling we’d actually gotten to a place that satisfied us.” Patrick said.

Caroline agreed. “The farther the songs get from us and and our own lives, the more rewarding they become. For example, we got an email from—I think I’m going to start crying from thinking about this—someone who was stationed in Iraq when we put out our last record. He said he was miserable and depressed and scared, and that he would listen to our record during his time off as sort of solace for comfort or for fun. It’s moments like that that feel the most rewarding to me.”

The reactions to their new track, “Crying in Public’ have been similar.

“It’s funny,” she went on. “Because once we put out our new song, “Crying in Public”, a lot of people started tweeting at us that they themselves were crying in public listening to the song. It’s something you see all the time in the city…people breaking down, and it can be pretty scary because you wonder, is this person in trouble? But sometimes it’s clear that they’re just having an emotional moment.”

Caroline admitted that the experience was common for her as well.

“I cry on the subway all the time. I’ll try to hide it, but I can’t help it—I get really emotional listening to music on the subway. Something about the anonymity and the fact that you’re underground…you can’t control the speed, you can’t control who you’re with, you can’t control when the doors are going to open, you have to just wait and put everything down for a second.”

“Crying in Public” even uses the sounds of the subway to introduce itself.

“We didn’t want the song to sound like a New York field recording,” Caroline explained. “It was more that we wanted to explore and be inspired by our personal soundtracks that we listen to while walking through the city, and also just the energy of being a small thing in this whirling, throbbing chaotic mess.”

Chairlift’s recording process invoked similar feelings for the duo.

“We had decided to write five songs in five days, and the idea was that we didn’t have to finish them necessarily, but we had to get as many ideas out in one day as we could.”

You could say this is songwriting in a New York minute:

Patrick and I were jamming with a friend of ours on guitar, and that chord progression came up, and I sort of very unconsciously started singing the chorus of it. Once I realized what I was singing, I actually almost started crying on the spot because it felt so familiar. Sometimes songwriting works that way.”•


Keep updated with another New Yorker’s quintessential Instagram experiences, @Mathiasrosenzweig

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