Kelley Pollar began his musical studies at the age of three with stack of LPs, a plastic Fisher-Price turntable and his six-year-old, disco-loving sister, Blevin Blectum. The two would enjoy long afternoons on their parent's bucolic New England estate, listening primarily to symphonic disco-orchestral
compositions like "Magic Bird of Fire" and the works of Rinder & Lewis. A misspent youth ensued,
steeped in gentle lessons in piano, violin and finally viola, which would become his passion and primary musical vehicle.
Polar went on to become a prizewinner at the William Primrose International Viola Competition at 18, followed soon after by an infamous tenure at Oberlin Conservatory. By the mid-nineties, Polar found himself in New York City pursuing an advanced degree at the illustrious Juilliard School and
cementing his reputation for general deviance. By day, he took classes and held a menial job as a Teaching Fellow in Electronic Music; by night, he busied himself in the school's tiny, ill-equipped studio.
Time passed until fate introduced a freak meeting with Morgan Geist, head of the Environ record label. Geist and partner Darshan Jesrani were deep into the production of their first collaborative record and looking for a section of live strings to complete the germination of their signature sound. Retiring to the tiny, windowless cube high above Lincoln Center that was his studio, Polar proceeded to compose and record the first string arrangement for the duo that would soon be known to the world as Metro Area.
Thus began the relationship that left a deep impression on Metro Area's oeuvre. Kelley Polar and his viola, usually supplanted by a stream of faceless Juilliard concertmistresses (for whom he had a notoriously superficial affection), began recording for Environ under the name "Kelley Polar Quartet."
KPQ would be heard on some of Metro Area's biggest tracks - "Miura," "Caught Up” and "Dance Reaction", to name a but a few – and even made the occasional surprise appearances at the group’s live
Polar’s interest in music of the 18th and 19th centuries increasingly transformed into a desire to formulate and codify the "disco orchestral" string playing technique of the 70's and 80's, and access to Geist’s carefully collected record archive filled his brain with a strange survey of domestic and imported
disco, boogie, and electronic music. Polar’s crafted solo efforts had some elements of Metro Area's style; however, his bizarre mix of western classical theory coupled with ignorance of current dance music trends gave these early demos a uniqueness that captured Geist's ear, and it wasn’t long until the inaugural solo Kelley Polar Quartet 12” (Audition EP) was the buzz of taste-making DJs the world over.
Around the same time, Polar was able to convince the Juilliard powers that his final solo recital (previously cancelled for an outlandish program featuring player pianos and Bedouin singers) should move ahead as planned. But the program was a mere decoy, and as the basslines of his newest Environ tracks boomed out over Julliard’s recital hall to an audience that included his enraged teachers, Kelley Polar effectively ended his higher education at the world's most famous music school.
The violist was now free to indulge his artistic impulses - as well as his lower passions. Despite his recording career flourishing with a series of brilliant 12”s on Environ, Polar could no longer handle his self-destructive city lifestyle, and soon returned to the countryside of his youth. Desperate for some sort of personal redemption, Polar severed most ties with New York and began playing chamber music under an assumed name in rural New Hampshire.
Today, Polar is the violist for the Apple Hill Chamber Players, a group known worldwide for playing primarily in conflict areas such as the Middle East, Northern Ireland and the Caucauses. Like his late nights producing records back in NYC, he still spends most of his time in a tiny cube, this one made of aged gray wood and surrounded by hay fields. Alone for weeks at a time during the long winter months, Kelley Polar's mind and voice try to find quiet, and make sense of his life and his musical ancestors, from the Vienna of 1770 to the grandiose discos of Manhattan 200 years later…
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