On Poka

You’re back at your cramped flat in New York City, bone-tired, a deadline looming heavy over your shoulders.

You swallow hard and pull back from your desk. Your FM radio pulls at your fingertips and has you turning the knob. Static. Tchaikovsky. Static. Right-wing banter. Hissing. Warm static. Then you hear it.

Come on man, don’t just stand there….” A police radio flickers and a bass glides through and a beat begins to form. A police squadron patrols the airwaves and on comes the wave of keys. A chorus of stuttered vocals pulses alongside an uptempo rhythm. A guitar chokes on its own feedback and then a high end filter squelches all but the low end. You look out again and it’s there, the chase, the delivery, the redemption. Your city captured in sound: “1987” by Poka.

Artists like Poka and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros strike a chord in the hearts of many because they induce a nostalgia for imagined pasts. This nostalgia kickstarts an odd process of historical revision. We imagine the ’80s being far more neon and full of oversized sweaters than they were. With the Cold War in full swing, things were real, unpredictable, and dark, And yet, we think of neon oversize sweaters.

The fact that we often search for fictitious pasts and try to revise the emotional tenor of particular eras reveals that there’s a lot going on for us as observers and creators of culture. How do we reconcile the creation of collective imagined pasts and a desire for objective historicity? I’m not sure, but I think it’s because we want exciting stories, and the past doesn’t give them to us. The result? We make fiction into fact with our music.

If you want to delve into a sound that openly claims to replicate a feeling that may or may not have ever existed, visit Poka at http://www.myspace.com/pokaremixprojects.

-Juan Fernandez