Exploring Sonic Story Telling and Fantastical Realms With Polygonia
Discover how Polygonia intricately weaves the vibrant world of 'Da Nao Tian Gong' into her latest EP on Midgar Records, creating a mesmerizing sonic narrative.
February 8, 2024 at 10:05 AM PT
Polygonia represents a multidisciplinary music and art project conceived by Lindsey Wang from Munich, Germany. The soundscape of her own productions conveys a mystical, organic character and is characterized by driving complex rhythms. Polygonia's sound palette ranges from energetic, dark deep techno to downtempo, grey area to textural and/or harmonic ambient. In addition, motifs from nature play a major role in many of her productions.
Her DJ and live sets are characterized by a hypnotizing effect that invites you to completely lose yourself in the complex world of sounds for a longer period of time. Polygonia has already visited numerous international prestigious venues. She is now a regular at Tresor or Berghain in Berlin, Blitz or Rote Sonne in Munich, to name a few.
Together with the artists Dycide and MTRL, she established her collective and label IO in 2018. In 2021, Polygonia launched the collaborative band project Lyder with the musicians Niklas Bühler and Moritz Stahl, focusing on the fusion of jazz and electronic music. In July 2022, she founded her own label QEONE.
Polygonia talks to SIX AM about her new EP Da Nao Tian Gong, drawing inspiration from the colorful and traditional Chinese style, and translating visual elements into a sonic landscape.
Hi Polygonia! Thanks for talking to SIX AM. To get things started tell us about "Da Nao Tian Gong" which has a unique and culturally rich theme. What specific aspects or episodes of the cartoon series inspired the music on this EP?
I was really inspired by the colourful and traditional Chinese style of the visual aesthetic. It is full of strong fantasy and humorous moments. There are many interesting things which have their origin in the Chinese legend ’The Journey to the West’ which builds the foundation of this cartoon, a legend with deep philosophical meaning.
The tracks of my EP carry the names of specific attributes of the monkey king, the main character of the cartoon and the legend. ‘Jin Dou Yun’ is the name of the cloud he is riding, ‘Shen Wai Shenfa’ is his magic hair, he can turn it into an army of little monkeys. His magic staff called ‘Ruyi Jingu Bang’ is the only weapon which convinced him while searching for the fitting one. Furthermore he has the ability to shape-shift into various live forms - ‘Disha Shu’ - it makes him very versatile when it comes to fights. There is this one memorable scene in which he fights against another shapeshifting opponent. It looks really spectacular in terms of the visual appearance, also the dynamics of the movements are fantastic.
You've mentioned that "Da Nao Tian Gong" has been an influence in your life. Can you share a personal story or experience that connects you to the series and how it has shaped your approach to music? And why did you decide to release this EP on Vinyl?
I’ve watched “Da Nao Tian Gong” countless times during my childhood, it feels like the direct connection to my Chinese roots. It played a big role in the process of learning the language and I got to know my passion for supernatural creative ideas. It showed me the humour of the Chinese culture and the beautiful aesthetics of the traditional music. Until this day I can feel the influence it has on me as it mirrors so many facets of the things I like. In my music I always create new worlds full of fantasy and organic movement, something which I’ve definitely learned from this cartoon. It makes me very happy that severja, my friend and label head of Midgar Records, liked this composition of tracks and wanted to release it on vinyl. As the source of inspiration of this EP has been such a strong influence for me in my creative identity, it was the right move to release it in physical form.
How did you translate the visual and narrative elements of "Da Nao Tian Gong" into the sonic landscape of your EP? Were there particular instruments or sounds you used to reflect the series' essence?
Since I am also a visual artist, I always think in a very synaesthetic way - all graphic impressions directly translate into auditive ideas in my head and vice versa.
I used an harmonic sequenced synth pattern in the first track and combined it with a polymetric synthetic sound, which modulates between being a percussion element and main element. The harmonic one symbolises the aesthetics of the cloud ‘Jin Dou Yun’, the curly playful form. The other one is the auditive translation of the cloud’s fast cartoony movement.
For ‘Shen Wai Shenfa’ I used the tribal percussion drums to imitate a fighting scene of the little monkeys. Next to that I created this wooden granular texture which stands for the hair from which the monkeys originate.
The specialty of the magic staff ‘Ruyi Jingu Bang’ is that it can shrink and grow to all sizes the monkey king wishes for. That’s why I chose to split the track into two parts - one with a drone like rhythmic synth which takes a lot of space in terms of room and massiveness. It shows how heavy and big the weapon actually is. On the other hand I created a scene without any reverb, this one is referring to the dexterous movement of Sun Wukong with his staff.
The last track ‘Disha Shu’ has a lot harmonic motion in the track and feels very fluid in its sound aesthetic. It goes through various stages in its arrangement which symbolises Wukong’s ability to shape-shift into various creatures of air, land and water.
Do you have a favorite track on the EP? If so, what makes it stand out to you personally and artistically?
I think each track stands for itself, it is a bit hard to say. But when it comes to playing my DJ sets, I definitely have a very clear preference. I played ‘Shen Wai Shenfa’ a lot of times already, much more than the others. It is a perfect tool with it’s texture and direct groove.
For listening I’d say the first or last track, as they go through many stages of arrangement and sound design, it makes the experience of the whole tracks very vivid.
What were some of the challenges you faced while creating music inspired by a cartoon series, and what were the most rewarding aspects of this creative process?
The challenge was definitely to design the right sound for the pictures in my head. Sometimes it didn’t directly turn out as imagined, but in general I’d say that the process of producing is always like sculpting. Meaning that if a sound doesn’t seem to fit in the beginning, it can be refined so much in the process of synthesis and effect editing that it will actually fit in the end. Of course the most rewarding aspect of this process was to listen to the final results after some time had passed after it was done. I think that music production on one hand always feels like a very fun crafting game, but it also involves a lot of pain as it is sometimes hard to trust the own judgement after hearing the track’s process for hours. Directly after finishing it the record, I lost the connection a bit, but at the present point in time I am quite satisfied with the process and its final result. I am sure that this is a feeling which many producers can relate to.
How do you hope your audience will connect with this EP, especially those who are familiar versus unfamiliar with "Da Nao Tian Gong"?
Technically speaking from the producer view towards the DJs, I am really excited to hear how the people will use those tracks in their sets. It is always so interesting how different artists see individual connections to other tracks and make magic layering combinations. In general I hope that the listeners who don’t know the cartoon will find their own interpretations of the tracks or maybe even check the source of inspiration. It is a bit unfortunate that there is probably only a Chinese version of this masterpiece, but either way I think also the original legend is more than worth reading. It offers countless teachings from the different divisions of Buddhism within the context of great fantasy. And for those who are familiar with “Da Nao Tian Gong”, I’d be quite curious to hear if they can feel the parallels described in my explanation of the elements.
Having created an EP inspired by a significant childhood influence, do you see yourself exploring more themes from other influential aspects of your life or culture in your future projects?
I think one of the most important aspects of the artistic journey is to pick up a lot of inspiration and build something new from it. That’s why I’d definitely say I can imagine to explore more themes which had a great impact on me in my life. It adds spice and emotional relation to the process.