I’m very excited to introduce our first artist interview on the blog! We chatted to Candice Renee, of the doom-punk duo Blood Ponies (made up of Renee and her partner, Jeffrey Cesare).
Their album Hoax, released November 2019, is fantastic – full of hunger, dark energy and anxiety. It’s about escape, freedom and defeat. Hoax is perfect for the current time of misinformation: while you are listening, you feel that the walls are crumbling in and you crave freedom. But, as Sartre says, “What is in fact the freedom of thought for someone who is dying of hunger…or when campaigns of brain washing and panic, like the ones that are being undertaken today, descend on him?” (Sartre, To Be Hungry Already Means that You Want to be Free, and a title to one of the songs on Hoax).
Sounds interesting? Head over to Bandcamp to hear it.
- What first got you into music? My very first attempt at being a musician started when I was about 8 years old, and I asked my dad to buy me a guitar. But the guitar hurt my fingers, so I didn’t stick with it. When I was 14, we moved into a house that had an abandoned piano a previous tenant had left behind, so I tried to teach myself how to play it. I didn’t start playing drums until I was much older, but once I did, that was the instrument that finally “clicked” for me.
- Who inspired you to make music? Just about every band I’ve ever seen live has inspired me to make music! We hear recorded music so much in our lives (both intentionally, and unintentionally), but I truly think there’s no experience that compares to live music, to being in the room where something is being created in front of you. The more live music I saw, the more I wanted to create my own.
- How would you describe the music that you typically create? Blood Ponies’ music is influenced by a lot of genres: goth, punk, metal, industrial. But we didn’t really feel like we fit neatly into one sound, so we created our own genre: Dystopian Doom Punk. I think it sums up the experience of our sound pretty well.
- What is your creative process like? Blood Ponies is a two-person band, and the creative process is very much rooted in my connection with my partner, Jeff Cesare. He may work on a guitar riff, and then he’ll bring it to me for feedback. From there, we can usually start to develop threads of a song, with both of us passing ideas back and forth. We found early on in our process of creating together that we do best when we just trust our guts. If something isn’t clicking right away, it’s never going to, so we just move on rather than try to force it. Some of my favorite songs we’ve written were done in just one or two sittings.
- Do you sing in the shower? What songs? I don’t sing in the shower, but that’s because I’m too self conscious that someone will hear me! I’m not the vocalist in the band, so that should tell you I’m not the strongest singer. I do sing in the car, though. Lately it’s been a lot of Lucy Dacus.
- Which famous musicians do you admire? I’ve long admired Janet Weiss. I first got familiar with her work as the drummer for Sleater-Kinney, which is a band that’s been hugely influential for me. Her approach to drumming is somehow both straightforward and creative, which I just love. I’m also a huge fan of Fay Milton from the band Savages; her playing style is just so full of energy! It always blows me away.
- How do you feel the pandemic has impacted your music business? The pandemic has had a huge impact because of the inability to play live shows. For me, streaming shows just aren’t the same. You can’t feel the room, you can’t make a connection with fans that come by the merch table. There’s a loss of revenue, for sure, but for me, I feel like the bigger impact has been on my creativity. It didn’t quite hit me how much the live environment feeds my creativity until that was gone.
- What is the best advice you’ve been given? A friend of mine that is himself a hugely talented musician once said, “Make music because you have to, because you need to get something out.” It stuck with me, because it was so different from the advice I’d gotten before, which tended to focus on how to promote yourself, or how to gain fans. It reminded me that that’s all just dressing. The primary focus should always be the art and what it means to you.
- What is the most influential memory you have that has impacted your life today? I was really shy as a child, which people who know me now would probably be shocked to learn! I remember when I went to camp in 6th grade, there was a rock-climbing wall that we all had to try our hand at. It was really tall – I’m going to guess at least 2 stories. None of my classmates thought I’d make it to the top. Even I didn’t think I’d make it to the top! I wasn’t daring, brave or tough. But I did climb all the way to the top, and it was easier than I expected. I think that was the first moment that I realized that I could be daring, brave and tough – I just had to try.
- Where we can find your music? Blood Ponies’ music and merchandise is available at https://blood-ponies.bandcamp.com/, and you can find us on Spotify and Apple Music. We’re @bloodponies on both Instagram and Twitter, and on Facebook at http://facebook.com/bloodponiesband.
Jeffrey Cesare: vocals, guitar, synth
Candice Renee: drums, percussion, vocals, synth
Engineered and recorded by Ben Moore at Singing Serpent Studios
Mastered by Dave Gardner at Infrasonic
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