How Chairlift's Caroline Polachek Landed a Track on 'Beyonce'

She was as surprised as everyone else when the album dropped suddenly at midnight

December 13, 2013 4:15 PM ET
Caroline Polachek
Caroline Polachek
Chelsea Lauren/Getty Images

Like the rest of the world, Chairlift frontwoman Caroline Polachek was pleasantly surprised to learn that Beyoncé dropped an album last night. But unlike the vast majority of us, she got the extra shock of finding out that Beyoncé included a track, "No Angel," on which she'd worked.

The Ultimate Guide to Beyoncé

"A friend of mine texted me at midnight saying 'congratulations,'" says Polachek with a laugh. "I was, like, 'why?'" She adds, "I had no clue it was coming."

So how exactly did Beyoncé come to collaborate with an avant-garde leaning indie-rock siren? Chalk it up to family connections. Polachek's Chairlift bandmate Patrick Wimberly had recently been playing drums for Solange Knowles, and was helping with a show Beyoncé's younger sister put on last spring at Manhattan's Museum of Modern Art. He was then asked to come along with the Knowleses on a tour of the MoMA's private collection. During that tour, explains Polachek, Beyoncé mentioned to her bandmate "that she loved Chairlift and would love to get in the studio some time."

Not one to let an amazing opportunity go to waste, Wimberly followed up with Beyoncé's people, and he and Polachek were invited to a Manhattan studio to work on potential tracks for the superstar. "We camped out there for about a week," says Polachek. "Right when we were giving [Beyoncé's team] all the tracks, I threw in one I'd written on my laptop while we were touring in the U.K. I had all the production, I was just missing a verse. I thought it could be a good album track for Chairlift, but it would be incredibly sexy if Beyoncé did it." 

About two weeks ago, remembers Polachek, whose efforts on "No Angel" garnered her a songwriting and production credit, heard a version of the track. "It was slightly different from the album version," she says. Comparing Beyoncé's treatment to her original treatment, Polachek notes that, "Her groove was different—my vocals were jumpier, and her's were more like panting. And in my version the synths detuned really quickly for a second; she did the same thing but with her voice. It sounds like the whole song melts. It's amazing."

As for the rest of Beyoncé, Polachek, who has previously collaborated with the likes of indie standouts Blood Orange and Delorean, is so far just as impressed as everyone else. "If this is what pop music is in 2014," she says, "then I'm really excited to be alive."

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

Music Main Next

blog comments powered by Disqus
Around the Web
Powered By ZergNet
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.


We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“You Oughta Know”

Alanis Morissette | 1995

This blunt, bitter breakup song -- famous for its line "Would she go down on you in a theater?" -- was long rumored to be about Alanis Morissette getting dumped by Full House actor Dave Coulier. But while she never confirmed it was about him (Coulier himself says it is, however), she insisted the song wasn't all about scorn. "By no means is this record just a sexual, angry record," she told Rolling Stone. "The song wasn't written for the sake of revenge. It was written for the sake of release. I'm actually a pretty rational, calm person."

More Song Stories entries »