Pony Loaf interview by Lawrence English

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It’s an interesting time for electronic music in Queensland.

There’s a distinct awareness shared between those writing and producing that a change is in the air. With the grip of hip-hop having somewhat come and gone, focus is shifting and as yet there seems to be no one style on which it has fixed.

Partly due to the influx of musicians and producers turning out a wide range of sound from deeply experimental sound pieces to pseudo IDM, new musical concepts and approaches are beginning to flourish in Brisbane ‘ due at least in part to venue’s such as Ric’s Caf’ and events such as fabrique at Brisbane Powerhouse and Small Black Box at Metro Arts.

One of these acts to break through in recent months has been Ponyloaf (with their debut EP ‘Epic Travels’), a trio of musicians each with a long-standing associations within the Brisbane music and art communities. Shane Rudken will probably be the easiest member for most to identify, having performed alongside Regurgitator during their heyday. Damian Lewis and Daniel Templeman – both of which are well known in Brisbane for their various art projects, installations and gallery showings, join him.

‘Dan and Shane went to school together and I think they always dreamed of starting a band together,’ Damian Lewis says of the group’s lengthy personal histories. ‘Shane of course has been a keyboard virtuoso since he could talk. I first picked up music through piano and guitar in school and played in bands with my friends. Shane used to play in Emporium, meanwhile Dan and I met when we were both studying fine arts at art-college. After Emporium Shane played in Regurgitator for a few years, then Ponyloaf started happening in about 99/2000 when Shane got a G4 with Protools and we all started working on various tracks together on our computers for various reasons.

‘Shane came to play with my post rock band ‘Puz’ and I started using a laptop on stage for our gigs and after a while we all just developed a kind of shared vision and decided we’d all get together to become Ponyloaf.’

It’s in this meeting of music and art backgrounds that something interesting has come out of Ponyloaf’s style. It’s quite an uncommon mix of aesthetics for Brisbane ‘ Pony loaf are loaded with dance-floor potential (but steering clear of clich’d grooves) in the same way as Plaid or Mouse On Mars are – and like these groups they take the odd unexpected turn.

There’s also an ironic sense of humour in their music captured best in tracks like their EP opener ‘I Plastic’ which features an amazing euro techno piss-take of sorts. Even the group’s name itself bares the marks of their odd sense of humour.

‘The name rather aptly describes the image of someone taking a shit directly into someone else’s mouth,’ Lewis laughs a touch uneasily, ‘I think we like it because the concept and term would have never entered our minds if it weren’t for the Internet and that kind of sums up, metaphorically at least, the reason why computer technology is so great and why we love it so much.’

Recently inking a deal with Valve records, Ponyloaf have just issued their first EP. They’re one of the few bands in Brisbane to dabble in electronica-pop and manage to come up with some seriously engaging sounds. Due largely to their mix of hooky melodies, tempered processing and crunchy beats, each performance sees them gain an even stronger foothold on the Brisbane music landscape. Warming up during early 2002 with a number of performances alongside designer partners Rinzen and groups such as Full Fathom Five and I/O, Ponyloaf are planning a bigger second half of the year.

While they’ve been playing gigs on and off for some years now, Ponyloaf made the conscious decision of fine-tuning their musical and conceptual themes prior to unleashing themselves on Brisbane (and Australian) audiences. The results of this belated appearance in the public eye, is represented in the well though out themes they explore on ‘Epic Travels’.

‘Its very personal music, maybe self indulgent, just putting together everything we like and playing with it however we can. The EP is like a little adventure story. We imagine that each song is like a chapter of this story that’s set in a future world where there are these three god-like warriors who travel from planet to planet, battling evil with magic music that they create by playing their instruments. It’s all very DragonballZ. The epic adventure concept suits the music we play really well because I think it’s like each song is a story unfolding with its own little theme and concept.

‘There’s lots of manufactured images out there ‘ it’s nice to wear something unique and hand crafted. We have a bunch of crazy concepts in lots of media. The more senses you can engage the more meaningful the engagement becomes I think. Music is an opportunity to provide art and art is an opportunity to provide music. We are interested in all of that.’

Lawrence English

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