Poledance by Paul Henschel
New Music

One man indie emo act POLEDANCE discusses new album “Circus”

7 mins read

Years after disbanding of German hardcore band LASTING TRACES, guitarist Daniel started his new project called POLEDANCE. Started during the weird times of the COVID era, the new band is a monument to the 2010’s emo bands like Emarosa, Saosin or Fall Out Boy. Poppy and catchy, but also heartfelt, with some consciously “kitsch” thrown in, POLEDANCE releases its debut album “Circus” on Thirty Something Records (Superblood, Pilot To Gunner, Tim kasher amm) today and we’re stoked to give you a special track by track commentary by the project’s mainman Daniel Pfeifer.

POLEDANCE‘s sound moves between bands like Paramore, Jimmy Eat World and many more in the early 2000s. “These bands taught me to express myself emotionally,” says Daniel. “With endless guitar layers, catchy melodies, driving rhythms and a vocal performance bursting with energy, I want to tie in with that time and create my very own interpretation of the place that offers space for the somewhat heavier feelings.”

From the writing process to the recording and production, the entire album was created between November 2020 and December 2021 on my own in my small studio in Berlin-Baumschulenweg.

01. Beautiful

Beautiful was the very first track that I released as POLEDANCE in August 2022. It’s also the first track I recorded the vocals for, back in July 2021 and, as I went through the demos again, I realized it’s also the first song I had the final chorus lyrics written for. So all in all it definitely made sense to open up the record with this song, not only because I think that it represents the music of POLEDANCE very good, I also had the feeling that, as a first sign of life, I wanted a song with a positive story. Beautiful is a song about appreciation, trust and companionship and how a single person is able to bring out the best in you. It’s definitely an Emo-Love-Song. I really enjoy every single part of the song and I still wouldn’t change a thing about it.

02. Devil’s Pact

What’s interesting about Devil’s Pact is, that over time, the song transformed completely. After I wrote and recorded the first demo, I adjusted the tempo and made the song faster because I felt that it should have more power. When I started to write the lyrics I also made some changes in the harmonies and the sounds that I used, in order to create that wide open space, especially in the verses. After finishing the vocals in the studio, Sascha (he recorded and co-produced all vocals) and I went through the song and we both had the feeling that the chorus doesn’t fit anymore. So I rewrote the chorus and in the end it turned out that there is almost nothing left from the original version. I’m happy that, at all times, I had the courage to allow the songs to change and not to stick to the initial idea. Devil’s Pact is a very important song to me. It deals with the topic of being consumed by your passion. This has always been, and if I’m honest with myself, will always be something I need to be aware of. I can spend hours and hours in front of the computer, producing songs, writing mails and doing what needs to be done to make everything work. Often I forget to take a break or taking a step back from it for a day or two. There was a time where I stopped socializing and meeting with friends or being a real bad friend because I put my projects in front of everything.

03. Echoes

Echoes really was something. I remember the moment when I came up with the main chords that set the mood for the song. I immediately knew that I wanted to do a song with it, but I had a really hard time finding out what the chords needed. The first demos were much slower and I knew that this is not where I wanted it to be. I loved the mood, but it had no groove. So I drastically turned up the speed and suddenly it started to work. After that, the song almost wrote itself and didn’t change a lot to the final version that made it to the record. Vocally, Echoes was mostly inspired by Dallas Green from City and Color and Alexisonfire. He has always been such a huge inspiration and I really love how he layers his vocals and harmonies. Echos is a song about the fear of being (left) alone. I definitely needed to learn how to do that – being just with myself and no-one else. It really took me a while but now I can appreciate and enjoy it.

04. No Love

With NO LOVE, I definitely turned my inside out. It’s the most personal song I ever wrote. It deals with a very delicate topic and out of respect, I don’t wanna go into the details. Musically I really like the electronic parts it has and definitely the dynamic between the different parts.

05. Help

Help has been nothing but a surprise. It was the last song I wrote for CIRCUS. I didn’t plan to write another song, but it was just one of these days where I was frustrated and sick of all the other demos that were supposed to be on the album. Everyone who writes songs knows that sometimes you just need to do it completely different. So I turned down the speed of the metronome, picked an insanely distorted guitar sound and played the lowest note I could. I think that I wrote the song within two hours and it turned out to be (in my opinion) one of most interesting on the album. Recording the vocals for HELP was nothing but fun. Shouting into the microphone and letting out all the anger and rage is such a relief. It also really pushed my vocals to the next level because it’s very high, there are almost no breaks and it needed to have a lot of grit to cut through the heavily distorted guitars and synths. Topically HELP fit’s perfectly to the World Cup in Qatar. It’s a song about all the shit that is going on on this planet and how over overwhelming it is and how powerless it can make you feel. It’s also an attempt to express my compassion for all those who are not able to live such a privileged life as I do.

06. The Change

I think that THE CHANGE is my favorite song on CIRCUS. I remember leaving the studio after tracking the vocals for this song. I just felt joy and happiness and was overwhelmed by what we’ve just created in that vocal booth. I’m still so in love with every single part of the song, but especially with the vocal-layering in the chorus. It creates such an energy and opens up this huge space. THE CHANGE is a song about having the ability to change the view of perspective and stopping for just a moment in order to realize what you want and what you don’t want. With every day, all the things that we are surrounded by get faster, more complex and in total much more exhausting. Finding the right balance and having the ability to keep it, is very important for me to get through my everyday life.

Poledance by Jette Hielscher
Poledance by Jette Hielscher

07. Burial

I think that, besides Help, Burial is also a little surprise on the album. Is definitely the most chilled song on the record. It invites you to lean back and sink into the song. Musically the song didn’t change much compared to the first demo I wrote, only the vocals did. It’s also a very challenging song for my voice, because I need to hold very high pitched notes for a long time, so warming up my voice is very important here. Burial is a song about unprocessed feelings in order to not deal with them. In my case I have the feeling, that it has a lot to do with toxic masculinity and the way I grew up in a society where men needed to be strong, having and showing no emotions because it was something bad. It took me almost thirty years to feel comfortable with it and appreciate to talk about what’s going on inside of me and letting it all out. Not only in songs.

08. Wonder

Wonder is a song that has it roots in Emo-Pop-Punk and if you like bands like Seaway and Knucklepuck, you’ll enjoy it. With 3:18min it’s the shortest song on CIRCUS. What I really like about it, is that it has such an high energy potential what makes it so much fun to play. The fact that it’s very catchy, is also something I really enjoy. It will definitely make people sing along, so I can’t wait to play it live. Wonder is a song about embracing who you are, but also about reflecting if you wanna be that person and if you’re ready to pay the price that comes with it.

Poledance by Paul Henschel
Poledance by Paul Henschel

09. Phantom Pain

Phantom Pain has been the very first song that I wrote back in October 2020 and it just stayed the same – same harmonies, same structure, same song since then. I remember showing it to my girlfriend while we took a bath and having it released on an actual album now, feels absolutely unbelievable, considered that I just plugged my guitar into the computer, programmed some drums and hummed some vocal ideas into the microphone. The song is about how I ended a relationship I was in for 8,5 years. It was a tough time and when I think back, I still feel ashamed how I behaved. I’m definitely not proud of it and it took me very long to leave it behind me.

10. Sake Of Life

Sake Of Life was the song I struggled the most with during the writing process. It has so many different parts, that it was really hard to glue them all together and make it sound like everything sits where it should be. After going through this writing-process I really learned that simplicity is the key. Nevertheless, I’m very happy with how the song turned out. Recording the vocals for that song was very special, because it was the second-last song after recording vocals for four months, so my voice was well exercised and we just experimented with a lot of different styles and harmonies. Sake Of Life is a song about raising your voice for the right thing and having the courage to do so, even if you have the feeling you shouldn’t, because that’s not what to be expected of you. Primarily it’s about the fight against yourself.

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