Polartropica is the music endeavor of Los Angeles based, dreamy space-pop artist, Ihui (eeway) Cherise Wu. Born in Taiwan yet raised in California, Wu has created a fantastical dreamland, successfully combining quirky pop melodies, futuristic synths and classical string arrangements, resulting in a genre of ethereal fantasy dream rock that you’ve never heard before.
“I wanted to create a healing, inspiring and empowering space with just the right amount of disco-party!”
Her debut album, Dreams Come True, perfectly encapsulates Polartropica’s entire ethos, creating a soundtrack to her very own magical intergalactic space.
Sonically the album is a delicious concoction of dreamy synth rock, fueled by stories of people, animals, world news and Wu’s experiences as a queer Asian-American living in California.
The single “In Another Life” narrates karmic love and the feeling you get when meeting someone for the first time, but it instantly feels like a lifetime. The track features gliding honey-dipped vocals over laid back beats. Then there is “Can’t Hold Us Back”, which acts as a reminder of the love and power we have within us when faced with oppressive forces.
Her musical influences are constantly changing: “I’m currently listening to Serpentwithfeet, Kelsey Lu, Kim Petras, St Vincent, My Chemical Romance and Sophie – may her angel spirit rest in supersonic power.”
On top of all of that, she dropped a shoegaze-dream pop version of the Everly Brothers’ classic, All I Have to Do Is Dream as a “gift to our fans and anyone missing a loved one during this difficult time.
It was one of my father’s favorite song I used to hear all the time as a kid, and the process of recording and producing this track helped me through my own anxiety, feelings of helplessness and loneliness during quarantine – it helped me feel closer with loved ones even though we haven’t been able to see each other for a long time, and I hope it does the same for anyone listening.”
Alongside her fellow artist Lauren YS, Polartropica started a “microgrant for artists called SquidTropica, supporting and showcasing queer, bipoc artists at the end of 2020. All proceeds from this track via Bandcamp and sales of Polartropica’s Strawberry Dream merch designed by Lauren will go towards this fund to be distributed directly to artist applicants. Rolling submissions are accepted through the Squidtropica instagram.”
Her goal and mantra is clear: “we are not only breaking down the social construct of a commercialized, white-dominated and controlled industry, but also how it changes when we’re talking about scenes at the local level – racial inequalities, the gender representation on music lineups, and then add the queer aspect of an artist on top of that.
There are pockets of organizers and increased efforts over the past few years to diversify lineups racial representation in the scene and have dedicated nights or showcases and festivals that put femme-led acts, poc or queer performers in the forefront, and not just sprinkled into a festival lineup. This has been so crucial in building community and an infrastructure for more marginalized artists to develop their talents and build their visions and fanbases.
On top of all that, so many of our local, independent DIY venues and curators have not been able to sustain through this quarantine due to lack of support from government aid that larger, corporate venues have been able to obtain, putting further strain on the scene.”
Polartropica is such a different artist. She confessed she wrote songs about “empowerment, drug addiction and reforms, school shooting, sexual abuse, animals in the zoo, horrible bosses at work, relationships-both with ourselves and others, farmer’s market, killers and more.”
Her style is inspired by “tropical, sparkly outer space maximalism. Movement is important to me, so the styles should also encompass comfort, flexibility and light sports when possible.”