Joey Pollari

Joey Pollari isn’t afraid to confront the uncomfortable parts of himself in his music. This approach to music is especially prevalent in his second album I’ll Be Romance, which was written in the throes of a formative relationship with an ex-boyfriend. Each song explores the euphoric highs and the tantalizing lows that come with love and relationships, especially in the midst of navigating your early twenties. Pollari is able to explore his own feelings throughout his relationship and dive deep into the core of his identity through masterfully crafted song composition and lyrics. 

“I always try to write from some level of unconscious space,” Pollari explained in his interview with EUPHORIA. “It’s quite a mystical process, like you want it to come down from somewhere else and you don’t want to control it. So for me, you got to tell on yourself in some way, shape, or form. For a song to have a life of its own, it has to go where you don’t want it to go and shape it around that.” 

Early on, he considered himself to be a perfectionist growing up. Pollari felt like he needed to be in control of his grades and in turn, be in control of his music. But as time went on, his perspective shifted. “For me, music has always been about inviting the third meaning in and for me, that’s what’s vulnerable,” he explains. The slip of the tongue; that’s what I am trying to capture. For example, when you’re with your friends and you’re sharing a story and it’s so clear what you want to say, but then you overhear yourself saying, ‘Oh, gosh, I actually sound quite angry or quite ashamed or a little bit more sad than I thought.’ That’s what I’m trying to get after in my music.”

In his track “So Close,” Pollari pulls inspiration from troubadours like John Grant and Nick Cave to deliver an emotionally-driven song that’s introspective in the midst of a relationship falling apart. In the press release for the single, he explains, “The lover that got away makes a gap. Remember your lover? Memory is an itch. Scratch it a little and the itch makes a gap. The gap is from memory to possibility. From love to failure. Do you see your lover? Five hundred million people are missing their lovers. That’s a low-ball guess. This gap is so many people’s. This gap is gigantic. This gap is a romance. Just itch it and remember.” 

When making I’ll Be Romance, Pollari recalled going into the initial writing sessions, ready to make a record inspired by early Fleetwood Mac. “It’s not the thing that wanted to come out,” he said. “I was thinking, ‘Oh, yes, it’s going to be clean organic tone, guitar bass, just like their early music. That’s just not what it wanted to be. It wanted a more cavernous cathedral-like space.”

The song “Aletheia” is a folk-inspired mosaic of memory, hope, and passion and begs the question; how do you leave the past behind when the future’s so uncertain? In the press release around this single, Pollari said, “The chorus revolves around a famous quote by Trinh T. Minh-Ha, a wonderful writer and filmmaker: “I do not intend to speak about, just speak nearby.” A very good dictum for her anti-colonial ethnographic films, and an important mode for treading into the unknown.”

The song is also accompanied by a self-directed music video that’s inspired by a road trip he took with his best friend in 2022. In the press release, he explains “From Mount Rushmore to college bars to languorous Old Faithful, the joke was on both of us: America is right there yet so hard to see. The video is a testament to our waking up with that “same dream” to see America, and finding joy in that dream dissolving, like “stars rushing by.” 

For Pollari, while this album is inspired by his personal experiences and emotions, he never intended to create a diaristic record that hashed out the events of the past. He wanted this record to be equivalent to the experience of putting up a mirror somewhere and observing what gets reflected back, whether it’s good or not. 

“This is not a vengeful record,” he says. “It’s about difficulties and the struggle. How do I move on from someone I can’t move on from, now we’re going into what it means to fall, to try, to attempt.” 

I’ll Be Romance is now available across all streaming platforms.