Pony Hunt Talks Heart Creak, Collaborations, 2017

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“It’s always a joy to collaborate with my friends in town”

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Michael Brummett + Meredith Schneider | December 5, 2016

Oakland’s singer-songwriter extraordinaire Pony Hunt is still reeling from her album release this fall. A woman who brings so much emotion and raw talent to her music deserves a pat on the back, but Heart Creak gives way to intense pause as we observe what we have just digested. Listen to the release in its entirety if you need to perk up your day a bit.

In honor of the album’s release – and Pony Hunt’s insane success – we got to ask the darling herself some questions. Check out our interview below!

How did you get your start in music?

I discovered a whole world of delta blues recordings and that was it- I had to know how to play that. When I was in my early twenties I moved to Oakland, CA. I was living on a houseboat, writing songs for the first time, playing only for myself and the ocean air. Eventually I met other musicians and started going out to open mics. One thing led to another and I began performing more and more.

What’s the earliest record you can remember listening to? Who introduced it to you?

When I was a kid i had a compilation of old doo-wop songs on cassette. It was like gold.

I don’t recall where it came from. I grew up in a house of 10 people so these things would turned up from time to time without much sense.

How supportive have your friends and family been, in your pursuit of music?

My friends and family have been extremely supportive. I feel very fortunate to be part of a family of artists and creative thinkers who believe that following the path your heart asks of you will always be the most rewarding and enriching.

Where do you feel most comfortable as an artist? On the road, playing live shows? Or in the studio, plugging away?

I find extreme moments of comfort and discomfort in both of these things. Being a recording/touring musician is a roller coaster and perhaps the most challenging path I’ve ever taken.

On the road we’re often broke, exhausted, eating weird snacks, with seldom a moment to ourselves, and yet needing to bring our best to the stage and to the people we’re performing for. It’s so difficult to stay balanced -physically and mentally-while on the road. At the same time, there’s something very comforting about being separated from everyday life with the sole objective of performing. The band always hits a stride and the musical conversations that start to happen on stage can be incredible. It’s so exciting and worth it.

Being in the studio has been extreme. The EP and the debut album were both self produced and self recorded which means an extra layer of technical consideration that “being in the studio” doesn’t typically mean. It’s a bit stressful bouncing between my technical mind and my artistic mind multiple times within a recording session. It has a tendency to pull me out of the moment. Additionally, I think every musician feels the pressure of a recordings permanence. Feeling perhaps too precious about the mark we leave on our own history – always wondering if a recording could be a little bit better or a little different. It can be an uncomfortable process at times but ultimately a good life lesson in letting go. Simultaneously, there is no feeling more satisfying than hearing a song you wrote come to life in a recording. It’s pretty magical.

Just in early October, you released an album, Heart Creak. What was the creative process like, putting it together?

It was a pretty wild actually. I was more or less homeless and living out of my van at the time – bouncing between New Orleans and Oakland. I didn’t have the money or industry support to go into a professional studio so I made due with what I had. I started in New Orleans- Sam Doores and I recorded most of the base tracks on a Tascam 388. From there I tinkered with arrangements and mixes – occasionally Sam would pop his head in and sprinkle some magic on a track or I’d call in a friend to record cello or bass… It was really a lot of fun. I love the way that machine sounds and it’s always a joy to collaborate with my friends in town. The rest of my band at the time lived in Oakland so I traveled back west and recorded there. At that point, I had collected a basic recording kit i could set up anywhere. We recorded on a houseboat, in a tiny music studio, in my van… pretty much any place I could find around the neighborhood at the time. It was perhaps the most haphazard way possible to record an album but it was also an expression of my transient lifestyle and I liked that.

What’s the ideal state of mind for a new listener to best connect with Heart Creak?

Heart Creak is very much about introspection. Most of the songs on the album were written at times of deeply looking inward or needing to express a consuming emotion. It’s an inherently human experience to feel confused or consumed by our emotions and need to express them – though we don’t always know how. That’s often where music comes in. it can be so validating to hear a song that closely relates to or even entirely pins our own experience. Perhaps the state of mind that would ideally connect to Heart Creak would be one that relates with this.

How do you stay inspired to continually create new music?

This is something that’s always changing and always needs work. Like a long term relationship, the romance dies if you don’t reinvent it from time to time. The basics would be listening to music- new, old and discovering new things. Pulling myself out of my own patterns. Surrounding myself with a thriving musical community- New Orleans is incredible in this way. Its also very important to express and interact with creative avenues outside of music- to step away and return with a fresh perspective.

What’s your dream collaboration?

I’ve never actually asked myself that question! I tend to think of things in terms of what is directly available to me in my immediate network and surroundings. The band I’ve thrown together here in New Orleans is definitely a dream collaboration. Sam Doores & Duff Thompson are my dream team.

With 2017 right around the corner, what’s in the pipeline?

I’ve moved full time to new orleans- that feels good. Looking forward to focusing on writing and performing here. Gearing up to start recording a new album in the spring. I’m really excited about the direction my new material is going in and i can’t wait to start that process. I’ll likely be touring through the summer and fall months. Looking forward to that as well.

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Heart Creak is available now.

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