While reading a book called “The Spell of the Sensuous” by David Abrams, Daniel Blue came across a shamanic tradition that suggested that animals, plants, tools, and even stones have a kind of perception and they echo what they are offered. It was suggested that a life lived in poor relationship with the world around oneself was perhaps the cause of all the sickness, war and suffering in the world.
Seeing the earth burning and taking this to heart, Blue decided to experiment with the theory and attempt to “have a relationship” with his (rather small) motorcycle. He called it “pony”, spoke to it as if it were alive and tried his best to respect it as a living thing or at least as a part of life as a whole. Of that time he said, “It changed me forever riding my bike that way. It was undeniably more enjoyable to coax and caress the machine like a friend rather than take it for granted like a meaningless gathering of extruded metals, rubbers and gasses. For the first time, I began to see myself as part of the world and not just a user of it.” The resulting joy and empowerment of that moment was infectious and thrilling to Blue, and he coined the term “Motopony” in celebration of the revelation. From then on he began to use the word Motopony to define any tool that he used respectfully with a relational intention of healing himself and the world.
A dark night not long after, mourning an anniversary of the early death of his late mother Kathleen Antoinette, Daniel reached for a broken guitar he had purchased some years earlier and leaned into it with all of his soul. “I had a great need for that guitar to release me from the despair and doom that I was feeling. Somehow I believed that this guitar also needed me to strip it of its extra strings and tune it in triad to the timbre of my untrained voice. We had a conversation, and in my grief, we fell deeply into love.” That night he sang a poem he had not yet written, “Hero’s Lullaby” and came to call the guitar “Old Blue”.
From that moment on Daniel threw everything he had and everything he was into song and music. He closed his event space and warehouse, sold his burgeoning fashion design business, disavowed himself of nearly all possessions and began to couch surf so that all of his time could be devoted to learning the craft of music. Within a year Daniel had partnered with a local hip hop producer named Buddy Ross and an eponymous”glitch-folk” album was already finding itself on noncom airways all over the world. Motopony was born.
The band immediately found home on the road with multiple US tours and dates all across the UK. An EP with a full-length followed owning its roots to the iconic Abbey Road studios. Jetting to Indian festivals and entertaining their international fan base, the band grew with their popularity.
Wrapping up their third full-length release Daniel believes that he is perhaps just now hitting his stride as a musician, a businessman-by-proxy, and a leader of a band. “The system that surrounds music and the industry that we have created to sustain musicians and the people who work to support them; it is also a tool that can be used with intention. It’s complicated, but I still believe that it’s possible to be in a respectful, intentional healing relationship with the music industry. It is, after all, a thing we ourselves have created, and therefore a part of the whole that is life. It can be loved.” Perhaps this is what he means when he sings “I still believe in the magic babe” in the upcoming song “a little death”
“I will probably never stop looking for the magic that I found reaching into that broken guitar for help and for a friend. The effort, intention and desire were not wasted. Something…some third party came along and allowed it. To me this third party is Love and that is my God. This God and the recipient of my worship is that what allows relationships to produce this kind of fruitful beauty.” What may seem foolish to some, that leap into “hope in love”, this is what Daniel sings of in the single off the upcoming record “when we were young” when he says, “we were dumb enough to try.”
Daniel took this idea of “playing dumb” and being willing to throw yourself in harms way for the sake of a dream to Timothy Graham. Together the two created the song, “When We Were Young,” which they felt was important both to them as career musicians and in regards to what they wanted to say to the world. “I remember texting my management team and saying something like “mark my words, game changer”. Timothy gave me that awesome feeling that my strengths were matched well as a writer. It’s a hard to thing to come by to be understood and joined by another musician, the result being greater than either of you could do alone.”
On their third full-length “50 Katrinas” the new band echoes this seeker’s journey with long wistful interludes woven between sharp and neat trippyfolk inspired rock gems. Like living quartz crystals growing out of flowing canyon walls, catchy inspired and distinctively Pacific Northwest psyche-pop singles hide amidst the foliage of a free-spirited kaleidoscope of unhinged compositions. Biting lyrics mock the information age while admitting their home in it, and love and relationships are a carefully crafted theme.
When asked about the environmentalist overtones and rather ominous title Blue says, “In a way this is my warning to the people of earth (or at least the people of USA) but many of these songs feel like I’m listening to them 150 years from now…like when people look back to this time and say, “what the fuck were they thinking letting everything go so long?” I want them to hear in this record that some of us weren’t blindly following or distracted by what some idiot tweeted that morning. We called out. We resisted. We tried to turn things by loving the machine and not just using it. We raised our voices in dissent. I also see the sentiment behind “50 Katrinas” as adorably hopeful in two ways: my fantasy that people on the earth will be around in 150 years, and that our music will still be, you know….out there.”
Ezra Bell was founded around the irreverent and introspective songwriting of Benjamin Wuamett. Carving a wide path through the musical spectrum, Ezra Bell brushes up against folk, jazz, blues, rock, pop, and R&B.
Formed in Portland in late 2013, Ezra Bell was a changing cast of characters before settling into it’s sound. Bassist Darren Moore, drummer Tom Trotter, horn player and arranger Aaron Mattison, and multi-instrumentalist Jeremy Asay provide an often unsettling backdrop for the playful and sometimes vicious vocals of front man Benjamin Wuamett. According to the Willamette Weekly, “Ezra Bell flirts with a broader palette of country, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll and swing, and does so admirably, with an outlaw’s shamelessness.”
Ezra Bell has released three EP’s, Don’t All Look Up at Once, 2013; We Came by Canoe, 2015; and Farewell Griffin, 2016. A full length debut is set to be released spring of 2018.