Pony Pony Run Run: “Voyage Voyage” across electro-pop beaches
Propelled by the success of their hit “Hey You”, France’s most famous pony brothers are hitting the road again this summer, not to lend their manes to the kindest of amblers, but to showcase the sunny tunes of their third album “Voyage Voyage”. Playing at La Cigale on May 17th, we caught up with them in between two sprints.
Hi Gaëtan, Amaël! Can you tell us how this beautiful musical project was born?
Pony Pony Run Run was created end of 2005, when we were finishing our degree at the Beaux Arts in Nantes. The idea was to go back to basics, make music that was a lot more pop. At the time we were more into experimental and improvised music. We wanted something fresh, really! And we wanted to travel. We had a great network of European clubs back then; to set up a one-month tour abroad with the help of a tour organizer was a lot simpler then than it is nowadays.
A question has been eating away at us for a long time. Where does the name Pony Pony Run Run come from? Maybe from a riding mishap…?!
From our guilty pleasure for Shetland ponies. They’re beautiful and ridiculous at the same time, especially when galloping. They’re true stars as well, posters of them plastered on the walls of every single kid from the 80’s and 90’s.
Your new album “Voyage Voyage”, released on March 4th, is resolutely more electro-pop than your first album, “You NeedPonyPonyRunRun”, which had more of a pop-rock feel to it. Your songs “Alright” and “Hey You” illustrate this comparison rather well, as their sounds differ quite a bit. Can you tell us a bit more about this new musical direction?
When you start a new album, there’s always a basic idea, a specific direction you want to go in. But on the way, this idea transforms itself, diminishes or even disappears altogether. For “Voyage Voyage”, we were really set on producing a very guitar-driven album with a 90’s feel to it. The songs transformed themselves on their own and the colour of the album quickly established itself. It’s all quite instinctive in the end.
What would you say your musical influences are nowadays? We know you used to listen to quite a lot of metal bands like Ministry, Pantera, Machine Head for example. Your music seems so removed from all of that…
It’s true our first band (in the mid-90’s) was heavily influences by “trash metal”. It’s still a genre we’re fond of in fact, like many other musical genres. If we had to put our influences simply, we could say: Amaël listens to rhythm ‘n’ blues from New Orleans and metal, and me, 90’s indie-rock and minimal techno. Otherwise, we like all types of music from the past decades and centuries!
How do you go about writing and composing your songs? Do you rely more on intuition than rigour in the stages of production?
Songs generally come to us naturally, either with guitar/voice – piano/voice, or with a riff, or with an idea of rhythm. The composition is very free and the songs define themselves bit by bit, according to our desires. It has to be fun whatever happens. Therefore everything is possible, there are no strict boundaries. A rock song can quickly change into zouk, and an electro one can become folk.
You’re setting out on tour to showcase your new album. Do you still enjoy playing on stage?
Touring enables us to embody the project and bring the songs to life, “live”. Seeing as it’s a very special moment, we try to remix and adapt the songs for the occasion, with it being a living show. So we take quite a few liberties; a song can sometimes become unrecognisable instrumentally speaking. It’s a way of offering something unique each night and avoiding falling into a routine.
Your first album immediately propelled you centre stage. You won a Victoire de la Musique award in the category Best Newcomer of the Year in 2010, and sold 40 000 copies in 6 months… How did you handle all of this at once?
From our point of view, things grew exponentially. What I mean by that is concerts became more and more frequent, the public grew bigger and bigger, and the concert halls and festivals became more and more vast. We toured non-stop for three years before the release of our first album, the rhythm just never stopped. But success isn’t an end in itself and certainly not the driving force of the project. The desire to make music motivates us. We’re lucky enough to be able to make a living from it, that’s already huge.
If we were to ask you to play one final record, which one would you choose?
“Wowee Zowee” by Pavement for myself, and “Vulgar Display of Power” by Pantera for Amaël.
A few words about OLOW – what did you like about the brand’s concept?
I think it’s about a lifestyle we share, a good dose of travel and hedonism, drinks at the end of a long day and simple things. Life, really!
Finally, a particular place synonymous with a good night out in France or elsewhere you’d like to share with us?
A cocktail on the heliport on the 34th floor of the Menara KH Building in Kuala Lumpur? Honestly, it’s one of the most incredible places to have a drink in an urban setting.