This is the first in a three part series on the group ‘Motopony’ and my conversation with lead singer, Daniel Blue
Have you ever met an old soul?
A truly genuine being, with depth that transcends all that is modern, who spurns the normal 2011 days of greed, glory self righteousness?
I was lucky enough to have that chance today, via a phone conversation with one of the country’s best new upcoming lead singers.
Daniel Blue of Motopony is just such a soul.
After hearing Motopony’s “King of Diamonds” and finding out that one of the band members has family roots here, I was intrigued.
Motopony is a Pacific Northwest group comprised of 4 gentlemen whose music is as intellectual as abstruse. The groove sent out by their first video release is a steady, autumn, crisp, sunny day in music form. I had heard the song many, many times over on 91.9 WFPK, and never thought to explore more, as I usually do. But once I heard more of Motopony’s work, I fell off the proverbial cliff.
The album has an other-worldly feeling of floating, dancing and drifting, all the while addicting. Their ‘Wait for me’ is the My Morning Jacket “Golden” , song of love, waiting, wishing and love. You can find yourself lost in the littlest ingénue of each song, from the gritty sound of “Seer” whose lyrics were great enough to make my FB status;
I am a seer, baby, I am a believer
My name is written in the clouds
You never dream but life flows by you like a river
You’ll never jump in if you are still afraid to drown.
Are you still afraid to drown?
By just listening, I had the feeling this was one deep songwriter, whose soul must absolutely be IN the music. As for the movements of the riffs, again, it is pure and well executed. In ‘I am my body”, it has a tambourine rhythm that would make any southern band proud.
I was correct.
Daniel Blue, the lead singer and I texted and traded messages for a few days before connecting. After learning more about Motopony, its roots and upcoming efforts, I thought I knew what to expect. I was right and wrong, all at once. Talking to Blue was more an exploration into the soul of a man who happens to write mystical and airy songs with a message in each, even if it’s just his own message. The depth and breadth of the lyricism and composition is amazingly transcendental. Not at all what you would expect from a young up and coming rock artist. Or was it?
“I was 12 when Cobain died”, he says getting ready to give me a standard ‘music influencer’ answer from Seattle, “and after that music choked on its own vomit and died.” We were speaking of the Pacific NW influences he had, and what the scene was living in Seattle during the grunge movement, and life after Cobain. From his perspective, the heat was on and the industry wanted to emulate the phenomenon and in doing so, they literally killed it. “Everybody just wanted so badly to throw money and recreate the scene, it was them we went ‘underground’ and that was mostly electric. Or, as you call it, ‘indie’. “
“We had no trust in the machine, so we looked to the past for music. Luckily, with electronic, there was a lot of vinyl, turntables everywhere, so we found a ton of LP’s in thrift and music stores.”
I commented that a few songs reminded me of Donovan (check out Motopony’s God Damn Girl) or Syd Barrett ( Vetiver). Whimsical, yet meaningful, and holding the listener captive. “Wake Up” is a haunting tale, backed by a small guitar riff, with Blue asking ‘what if’. When he talks about his ‘dream has gone astray and what if my dollar bill is me’.
Blue, referenced his childhood, wherein his Mother would only allow music his Pastor uncle listened to, deeming it ‘safe’ for Blue.. “He listened to Pink Floyd, Moody Blues and Lovin’ Spoonful. I had those records on repeat, its all I had.” His formative years in music are still present in his writing.
So who do Blue and motopony listen to now?
“We are really into this band from Portland, Unknown Mortal Orchestra. Its saturated with effects, guitar like Jethro Tull, but all spacey and hypnotic all at the same time.”
I looked up UMO, and wow, is he spot on wit these guys. Love it. Kind of early Spoon.
Here is “How can U Luv Me”
“The Internet has such a vast influence, you can find anything.”
I quipped about finding Duffy in the UK online through polydor records, and became hooked before iTunes released it in the US. The first Duffy video I saw was the UK version of ‘Mercy”, it was all Stax Records kind of cool, and the artistic and intrinsic value was amazing. But once it hit the US, the video was vastly different, and all bubblegum pop. Not smoky, forlorn R & B like the UK. We agreed that’s what happens in the ‘machine’ of the music industry. And Blue is glad motopony is on a slow rise to longevity.
Part Two: we talk about the purported ‘lateness’ of Blue in the eyes of the industry, pop sensation Foster the People and their hit “Pumped up Kicks” and how “talent will take you to your place, but character will keep you there.”