Music News

Ponytail: Baltimore's happy accident

Ponytail didn't come together like most bands. The original five members were randomly chosen by poet Jeremy Sigler to collaborate on music. Since that time, the act has become one of the stars of the burgeoning new American indie underground, spiritual kin to sublimely noisy, neo-tribal acts like High Places, HEALTH and Lightning Bolt. We asked the members of Ponytail about the Baltimore scene and the effect the city has had on their sound.

Westword: Is there something about Baltimore that inspires the kind of creativity and expansively inspirational vibe heard not only in your music, but in the music coming out of that city in general?

Jeremy Hyman: Baltimore is an amazing place to live for art and music. The people here are really willing to listen to new ideas, even if they are far-fetched. I am amazed people took us seriously during our first year or so as a band. We were all energy and no direction; it was like watching someone drop a machine gun down a flight of stairs. The city also has an incredible history: Lungfish, Oxes, Candy Machine, Cex — not to mention the Baltimore club scene, which is so massively important to current dance music and really important to us. It's really hard to pinpoint because it is so far-reaching, genre-wise, but there is a thread that travels through it all. It's probably in the water.

So many styles of music are spliced together in what you do, and yet your songs have their own internal logic not bound by a specific genre. What inspired that aesthetic?

Molly Siegel: I think we are just interested in so many things, and we never wanted to limit what we could do, so we sort of did everything. If you do something for too long, it has a tendency to get boring.

Were all of you trained/practiced musicians before forming Ponytail, or is your instrumental prowess a happy accident?

Ken Seeno: Jeremy and I took lessons growing up, and Dustin and Molly are self-taught musicians. I think this creates a really nice balance for us. But if you know how we were put together, it seems unlikely that such different people could come together to create this music. But here we are!

What can someone expect to see and feel when they're at a Ponytail show?

KS: There's a lot of bouncing! I think they should expect to sweat — and bring earplugs.

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Tom Murphy is a writer, visual artist and musician from Aurora, Colorado. He was a prolific music writer for Westword and a documenter of the Denver music scene.

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