Many regulars on TheSource.com may not be as familiar with the EDM world as they are with Hip-Hop. But now there’s another artist that has crossed over into both worlds. Russian singer, Polina, is featured on Eminem’s “Legacy” off of his Marshall Mathers LP 2. There have been comparison between the track and “Stan” but those comparison only go as far as the production and overall tone. We had the opportunity to speak with the busy singer about how the song came about, how it almost never happened, and who she’d like to work with now in Hip-Hop.
So did you reach out to Eminem, did he reach out to you, and then what was it like working with him? I have some clips of my singing I’d like to send…
The way it happened was after I signed to Ultra Music Publishing, I was set up with a writer and at the time I was doing a lot of collaborations in the dance world. We had a session scheduled with a new writer and we wrote this chain of vocal ballads. Then fast forward to a few months I was in LA at the Interscope offices and I played the song for Neil Jacobson who was working on the project at the moment. He was like “You know, this is an Eminem song, I’m going to send this to someone. Don’t share this with anyone.” So Neil sent it to Emile Haynie and you know he’s a producer for Eminem and Kanye and many other greats. So we went back to the studio and Emile put a beat to the song. He added some stuff to it and Eminem said he wanted to put it on the album and there was about a year and a half of silence. These projects take so long to make so you have to wait so long for the album. I literally didn’t find out [officially] about this until 3 weeks before the album dropped. I got a phone call. I had just got back from my tour in Asia and Neil Jacobson called me and said it was on the album.
Oh wow. So when you heard the news what was the first thing that came through your mind?
It was really serious because I’m such a big fan and he was this sort of, you know, I grew up in Europe and then coming to the US at 16. And for me the song was very emotional and it kind of came with that. It felt good because what I was going through at the time and where we were when we wrote the song kind of transcended things. And it was really cool to know that real things say something that you can’t really explain. It was really interesting that it was that song because that was the only slow song that I had at the moment. And the fact that they kept the vocals, you know. They never asked that we cut the vocals or make some changes and they kept it the way it is.
When you went to the studio to record it, what were your emotions and what were you going through at the time because you said it was one of your only slow songs at the time?
At the time I was working a lot with artist like Kaskade, Steve Aoki, Laidback Luke, and Tiesto, and a lot of the writing was to tracks at 128 BPM. When we had the session set up and we had a classical piano and I have a background in that. Before I got really established that’s what I did and I actually almost cancelled the session because I was kind of going through a relationship crisis that morning. So I literally walked into the session almost on the verge of tears and it was the first time I was writing with David Brook. He’s a New York writer, and he was so cool. And I think whatever I was dealing with at that time really translated into the song and that’s just really interesting. We were just on the piano and we just made it up with this ballad. And I’m really glad we did so I think it was probably the realness of the song that spoke to Eminem because it definitely has a connection to me and I think for him it meant something else. I think whatever he added to the song came from a real place. And that’s why it’s played by so many fans and connects to so many people.
Right and it seems like it was the perfect time and the perfect scenario, you know, perfect I guess isn’t the best word because you were going through a lot that day. But it was just a combination of circumstances and this just kind of came about.
Yeah and it was just really amazing because you have those moments that you just remember and I remember I was almost just coming to say, “Let’s cancel the session. I’m not feeling right,” which I never do and I’m glad that I didn’t. As long as it comes from your place. And as artists and writers we often times put what we’re dealing with into music and I think it’s something intangible. It’s some sort of magic in music and I think we all are willing to look for that and strive to have that whether it’s an emotional song like if it causes anger or things that have certain energy that comes with it. I think for me it’s a story of how everything unfolded. It’s pretty amazing.
I’m wondering are there any other Hip Hop artists, dead or alive, that you kind of listened to growing up and would also be another dream come true to collaborate with?
Oh my god, so many. You know it’s funny because I grew up listening to a lot of pop music obviously. Like Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson and Madonna, you know, the big idols. But in Europe when I was growing up that was always a really big part even though I played classical piano and I was always trying to get into music. I’m a big fan of Prince. Yeah I mean I love B.o.B. I love Wiz. I love Kid Cudi and yeah, I would love to something with those guys
Are there any tips you can give us in the future that you have in the works already?
(laughs) There are a few things in the works but you will definitely hear about it soon. I’ve been in the studio working on something. Well, hopefully. One of the guys said he’ll be sharing a lot soon (laughs).
Sounds good. I’m curious, I don’t know how much you keep in touch with the Russian Hip Hop scene, but what is that like compared to the American Hip Hop scene?
I moved to the US when I was 16 so I’m only now just going back to Russia to do shows in the dance scene. So it’s kinda funny because I’m coming back as a foreign artist now. It’s a very close knit scene that is autonomous. I’m talking to some people about doing a possible collaboration with one of the biggest Russian rappers. I just see how much the music has crossed over from the American scene. I know there’s a really cool underground Hip-Hop scene and there are more and more DJ’s everyday. It’s exciting to see that.
Looking forward to that even though I may not be able to understand it.
Yeah, of course you have the language barrier (laughs). Russian is a very rich language but a lot of rappers are starting to adapt English into their raps.
Maybe I’ll be interviewing a rising rapper from Russia next! Thanks for your time and best of luck with everything.
Bryan Hahn (@notupstate)