Motopony’s frontman, Daniel Blue, lulls out achingly barrel-aged vocals on the band’s self-titled record. The airy and yet splintered delivery of Blue is reminiscent of Neil Young’s rasp and Bon Iver’s maimed whispers. The salted-emotions of Blue and company aren’t epigenuous as they seem, and, by merit of their minimalist compositions, crawl and brood under the surface of the band’s warbling guitars and pattering of drums. Their debut album’s single, “King of Diamonds”, is earmarked by somber instrumentation and lyrics that are stung with wry hopelessness. Cinema Spartan managed to ascertain an interview with Blue to talk about modern music and film.
Robert Patrick: In an era that is so dominated by mp3 singles, digital play lists and instant gratification by way of electronics, do you think that people have been desensitized to the practice of sitting down and listening to full albums as they were intended to be listened to?
Daniel Blue: I actually think that artists have begun the process of re imagining the medium of recorded music to include the tastes of the people. I mean, Beach House and MGMT didn’t really set out to do a YES or a Rush style concept album. The idea of intention is there if kids are taking the time to buy vinyl and make music an event. However, the live show has become something a little more special due to this “instant” generation. More and more I see bands pulling surprises and special occasions out on the stage, things that you just can’t cram into any recording of your work. I like to think of music as an event – not a product.
You have talents for fashion, poetry, music and art. Out of the myriad of mediums that you have found yourself bound to, music has surfaced as your primary creative outlet. Did you finally feel that recording and performing music was the best way for you to channel and showcase your creativity?
Much of my work in all art-forms was a preparation for this. Live music takes poems, outfits, messages and “art” and sort of combines it all into a single action. I needed the things I learned in the fashion/art world, and writing poetry is sort of a prerequisite for a good song-smith. My character and voice needed to grow before I felt ready to unleash my true expression. I will say that I was waiting. I’ve been telling my parents I would be a rockstar for as long as I can remember. They just chuckled.
If you had to choose one song, for a first time listener to hear, which track would it be and why?
I have to assume you mean one Motopony track from the first album, and I would say June. That’s why we put it at the front, it is the story of beginning, veiled in broken romance. It is the story of becoming who you know you are. It is a story of transformation. I hope the trans-formative energy converts you into a person with desire to hear more.
Many people have a romanticized view of being on the road. Now that you have played in so many venues, at so many locations, has the experience of touring changed your view of music, the fans, and yourself?
All of life changes my view about all of life every day. Experience is a great teacher, but it has taught me that nothing will stay the same. Tomorrow’s shows will be as different as today’s were from yesterday’s. We must flow, and my “view” must be released to this flow, but honestly, we haven’t played out as much as your question makes it sound. We are just beginning.
Do you think that Pitchfork Media is the new Rolling Stone magazine to today’s music consumers? Is the website an asset to artists and readers or can those stamps of approval really create black marks for bands that do not receive praise on the site?
I’m not big on media. I say go read some Marshall McLuhan and go try to have a real experience with some music. Make up your own mind about art before you let any sort of static notion allow your heart be tainted by its yes or no. “Music consumers” is a term that turns my stomach a little bit. I mean, isn’t this art? Do you say painting consumers? or ballet consumers? Why are we treating magic like a commodity? I am a firm believer that art should bring people together. I’m into music that does that and I’m into “media” that supports that idea.
Motopony and Southwest Airlines had came up with a bold, innovative and interesting way to have an alternating concert venue: have the band fly to four cities, in the same day, while performing acoustic sets at each respective terminal. After you finished this marathon of sorts, which experience was more exhausting: flying from city to city or performing so many times throughout the day? How did the band maintain their energy from show one to show four?
The fuel is in the faces of the people who receive you, and snap out of the ordinary for a moment to speak to the strangers around them. Flying takes a lot of energy, and so does playing shows. This was somehow a delight the whole way. I mean, when was the last time you had a party on an airplane? When we were done, people were up out of their seats and *gasp* actually talking to each other. All smiles and unguarded and released from convention. I was in heaven in the heavens.
The video for “King of Diamonds” is so sad, atmospheric and yet hopeful. What was the mood when you guys were shooting the video, and what was your mood after the first time you watched the completed product?
This song keeps changing meanings on me. It found me, has come through me to the band and through us to the director and through him and some cinema back to my eyes. My mood was ‘acid trip’ when we were shooting the vid. I had never been to Vegas and I had never walked through crowds of people in a fur coat singing along to my own music with a camera crew. I felt like a Persian princess. When I watch it I desperately wanted to meet my blood father Dean Morrison and hear his life story. His mother was a gambler by profession. He grew up between Vegas and Hollywood.
Artistic mediums often bleed into one another. Have movies ever influenced you in any way when creating music? What are some of your favorite films?
The Fantastic Mr. Fox is my current favorite. Most everything by Wes Anderson. I love Bill Murray like an uncle, I want to make him dinner. Cinema is all encompassing as an art form. I wasn’t allowed to watch much tv and movies growing up, so in my adult life they have enthralled me. They take over my whole body and I forget myself, much like the first time I heard Nirvana or Radiohead. Totally and utterly captivated. This also happens to me at the Opera and at the ballet. I am very inspired by all of these art forms. They make me want to work.
Tell us a moment when you were most proud, up to this point in your career, as an artist.
Once I conceived and hosted a “fashion show” in Tacoma that grew into this monster of an arts celebration. We asked ballet dancers to be our models, worked with a jazz band and a local theater. My best friend directed and choreographed a bit of drama. There were sets and makeup and filming. We had like 30 artists all together working out the same show, all gratis, and then EVERYONE came. Young, old, rich, poor, I saw a cross section of our townspeople all watching the show with glee on their faces. I felt like the most genuine artistic creature in the world because we had created a commerce free all-inclusive moment of community.