7 Minutes in Heaven

Motopony

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We set the timer and snuggle in with our favorite new bands in the Impound’s version of speed dating with a killer-diller soundtrack.

Motopony

It’s finally happening to me
The thing I just had to believe
It will be seven years in June
I knew my time was coming soon

Throughout the glimmering, seductive self-titled debut (released May 24) from Seattle’s Motopony, the sense of the possible looms, hope and promise perhaps fleeting but manifest despite all the water under the bridge and detritus collected on our banks. It’s also a freakin’ catchy rock joint, full of icy charm, slinky riffs and one of the most intoxicating new vocalists to hit in a spell. Diversity is the rule, but each shape-shifting segment is infused with sincerity, cleverness and a lean musical sensibility that’s rich but never bloated. This is a band carving out their own sound, even as they faintly echo some choice antecedents like Aztec Camera (“King of Diamonds”), early Brian Eno (“Seer”) and Dr. Dog (“I Am My Body”). Motopony is on the way to something and their searching is absorbing and passionate enough to make one want to grab their satchel and join them on the road to…wherever.

We caught up with lead singer-songwriter Daniel Blue to dig into the band’s zeitgeist (and y’all can catch the band on a pile of newly announced dates in September and October).

Why do you think you’re a musician?
Songs and singing in general seem to be the most pure way I’ve found to express myself. Dance was up there for awhile, but I don’t think I’m physically athletic enough to be a dancer. I love to sing and I feel I can tell the truth that way.
Your voice really reaches out on your debut, and it matches the variety in the songwriting. Often debuts have one or two things to show you, and that’s not the case with Motopony.
I didn’t know I could sing until my late twenties. I think I just sang along and tried to mimic the artists I found inspiring. One day I was singing along to this Antony and the Johnsons’ song and I thought, “I sound just like him. Maybe I can do this.”
What an interesting benchmark. There’s not too many more singular voices than Antony.
I guess I figured if could mimic him then the sky’s the limit.
Your band has these big shifts in mood on the album, sweeping from the churchy exuberance “I Am My Body” to “Vetiver,” one of the most delicate songs on the album. Did you think a lot about the dynamics?
Yeah, we did. We put a lot of consideration into how the tracks flow into each other and what order they arrived and where we wanted to take people. We wanted to see it as an album and not just a collection of singles. I want to see music as an event not a commodity. Digital downloading is really cool and there’s a lot of instant gratification, but it takes a little bit of the magic out of the ritual of music. There’s a vibration and a space to sitting down and really listening to an album.
Classic albums, even just the ones always cited like Sgt. Pepper or Pet Sounds, were an event, a unique experience, a country of their own, and the best albums, from whatever era, resonate with that.
When I was a kid growing up we had [cassette] tapes, which is even different to an LP where you can see the grooves and skip ahead. On a tape, you’re sailing blind. We’d listen to Side A and then Side B because it was really hard to fast forward to get to the part that you liked.
If you came to music, if it became important to you in the time of cassettes, I think you have a different perspective on music than the generation coming up now, who largely sees music as discreet bits to be enjoyed in a hodge-podge manner. There’s something to be said for consciously trying to make an experience, to divorce the art from the industry.
Everyone needs to eat but you’re losing something really precious if you’re making product. But, the single is standalone and beautiful in its own right, and a two-and-a-half minute experience is still an experience. You need to honor both, and ultimately what we’re hoping is people are interested in our live experience. We want people to come and meet us and see us and feel that because we feel there’s something really special in the experience happening right in front of your face. That’s my church in a lot of ways.
It’s the moment that can never be repeated. Ritual is a really important thing. So, what’s usually going through your head right before you go onstage?
It’s different for all of us. We all have a little bit of individual time where we set about our tasks of getting ready. And then we come together and lock eyes and put our fists together for a little hip-hip-hooray kind of thing [laughs]. For me, I need to sit quietly and get really grounded, sitting on my knees or in the Lotus position. I’m really considering myself and the evening, what the give-and-take can be, and who I am so I don’t get lost up there. A lot of that for me is an incredibly spiritual adjustment that needs to take place before I put myself out there.
There are elements to Motopony’s music that touch on the spiritual, lines that jump out in a poetic way like “God damn, girl, your wounds are beautiful.” Once you hear that phrase you’ll never get it out of your mind.
I had a friend who told me a story from her childhood, something she’d been scarred by, and something about telling me her story brought me so much peace about my own story and my wounds. My response was, “Your wounds are SO beautiful. God dammit!” That’s not the way it’s supposed to be, in a way, but even bad things can be good and can be redeemed.