Joanne Pollock premieres “Expect Me” video, shares track-by-track breakdown of debut album Stranger

Joanne Pollock premieres "Expect Me" video, shares track-by-track breakdown of debut album Stranger

After teasing us with random tracks and the Optimist EP, then edging us closer to controlled arousal with Poemss (her collaboration with TMT favorite Aaron “Venetian Snares” Funk), Joanne Pollock finally got us off good and proper last week when she released her debut solo album, Stranger. Written, produced, and performed by Pollock and released through Funk’s Timesig imprint (a sub of Planet Mu), Stranger encapsulates the singer/producer’s eccentric ideas nicely. Add pensive, personal lyrics sung in that voice and you have a quasi-conceptual jewel of an album that is awash in electronic pop beauty.

“Expect Me” is one of many delights found on Stranger, and we couldn’t be more honored to premiere the sublime video for it below. Additionally, Pollock herself has given us an insightful track-by-track breakdown of the album following the video. No live dates have been announced yet, but there is a Venetian Snares show on July 9 at the Good Will Social Club in Winnipeg that promises a “surprise guest.” I’m not a betting man, but perhaps the Stranger will make an appearance that night.

Joanne Pollock’s track-by-track breakdown of Stranger:

01. “Carnival”

how does a city decide who belongs on it’s streets?
I can feel this town rejecting me

I used to feel like I owned the world
well maybe I’m just getting older

How much of our identity is an extension of the place in which we live, the people that we know?

Our sense of self is so intimately entwined with our sense of community, our sense of place, our sense of home, that when we leave, it can feel like leaving ourselves behind.

There were many consecutive events in my life that triggered the emergence of Stranger, but moving my life from one place to another was one of them.

This is a song of displacement, of failure, of perspective, of trying to love an alien world as if it’s your own - never knowing if what you left was ever real, or a happy dream of youth.

02. “Melt Myself”

if I’d have known I’d always be so cold
I’d let myself melt like a wax candle
I would, to be closer

It’s difficult for me to give myself to others.

This song began as just a vocal melody and the lyrics, which is unusual for me. I sang it over and over for a few weeks until I finally found a way to capture the ethereal feeling the song contained in my mind. I wanted to capture the feeling of being alone on a boat in the middle of the ocean, with waves lapping against the sides

03. “You Know I Would Do Anything”

I never thought of anything that I could ever say to you
and now I get a feeling that’s exactly what you would prefer
from family

This song is about the failure of family - about the fallout of abandonment and how it moves through generations, staining the tree.

04. “Never Been You”

this one is better
it’s never been you
this one is better
I heard you

I can’t ever imagine a time I won’t struggle with self doubt. In this song I gave my voice to fear and sang through it.

05. “Expect Me”

you expect me to be there
with a perfect smile
do I get to choose?

There’s a delicate interplay between what others believe we are capable of, and what we do. Sometimes disbelief can be motivating, showing people they’re wrong; other times it can be debilitating to have no one believe in us. It felt good to sing directly to people who didn’t believe in me, who wanted to only see me in a box they understood.

06. “Stranger”

I have never felt that I could be so sad
a stranger in the mud, swallowed by the sand
swallowed by the guilt, the stranger in my thoughts
opens up the curtain that I would rather not

And now we come upon the Stranger.

This was one of the first songs that emerged in writing this album, and I think of it as the bedrock. Here I met the Stranger, who led me down to the pit of self examination. The rest of the album follows the instruction of the Stranger.

I think it’s fitting to have such an important song in the middle of the album, because it’s reminiscent of the writing process. I didn’t set out to make an album about identity, all the facets of what make me who I am. I didn’t anticipate the feeling of total loss I would come to know. But part way through completing these songs, it became so clear that this is what the Stranger, this being that emerged with turmoil and discomfort, demanded of me. In this deep feeling of displacement, my only choice was to identify and examine which elements of me were left to build upon. With the help of Stranger, I complied.

07. “Myself Apart”

I can’t remember where I start
I can’t see myself apart

Have you ever become so entangled in a relationship with someone that it’s difficult to determine where one of you ends and the other begins? It’s a kind of ego loss that can be as much beautiful as frightening.

This song was the last I wrote for the album.

08. “Scratching”

I hear my thoughts in a whisper
I’m caught in a life without rapture
scratching at the sun
burned all my fingers

This was the first song written for this album.

It’s difficult to decide the parts of our lives we’d like to share, and the parts that are private, sacred, just for us. Opening ourselves to others, to the world, opens us up to being burned. This was a question to myself: is it worth being exposed? Is it worth being burned? I had to answer this first.

09. “Jealous Mind”

your jealous mind
has entered mine

Friends influence my thoughts, more than I want to believe sometimes, but there’s freedom in discovering the root of a problem. This song was another unusual one as it was originally written on the guitar, and it felt so good to play.

10. “You’re Gone”

I live in your essence
and I always imagine your answers
another sense, inside and bound
I’ve felt your absence around myself

Finally, as much as the people in my life affect me, the people that once existed that now don’t affect me equally. Our shapes swell and fill the negative space they left, and imagined and real conversations repeat themselves over and over in our minds until we can’t remember which is which. Through dreams, and connecting to parts of ourselves we shared with them, their spirit inhabits us as we move through the world.

I had some difficulty with this song, but at some point, I discovered that the more I took away from it, the more authentic it felt. It ended up as a ghost of a song, which couldn’t be more perfect.

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