Just how rare is a blue moon? We’ve all heard the phrase when someone is referring to something that doesn’t happen very often. A moon that is actually blue in color is extremely unusual. Daniel Blue, visionary and lead singer/songwriter of the band Motopony, is this type of rarity. With raw talent and a depth to his lyrics, he finds inspiration in the world around him. He creates his art with the belief it should be a mirror for the artist, sharing it through a voice with an almost haunting and chilling effect that stays with you long after listening.
Because to be with people man/Is to take life into your hands/It never works out quite as planned/But it will lead you to believe/Cause the truth is you can’t live inside your head/And to be alone is worse than being dead/And that website won’t replace the breaking bread/That’s what you said (Motopony, She is Spirit)
“The pleasures of fulfilling a quest or achieving a goal are wonderful…But I don’t think it’s possible for me to sit too long in that space. I have no idea what will happen if I’m satisfied.”
A Vision Meets Reality
Having always followed the path of an artisan, Daniel found music in his 20s. At the age of 21, Daniel visited cousins in the Northwest where his family lived. They were having a band practice and the lead singer was sick, so he asked to get on the mic, feeling inspired by a melody. They said no, and not sure if it was the denial of the moment, but Daniel said it created a longing to sing. Having always sung in some capacity, he didn’t realize it was something he could actually pursue. That night, Daniel looked for answers from the universe and had a dream he was singing in a 15-piece band. He woke up knowing there would be guidance around his passion of signing and songwriting. “I’ve lived fairly submissively to that guidance ever since,” he shares.
Seven years after that dream, he started his career in music while living in Tacoma, Washington. The band originally started as Daniel’s solo project. “I just called it Motopony because I was afraid of my own name,” the musician explains. Daniel collaborated with Buddy Ross, who he describes as “furiously talented,” and he produced the first self-titled album, which was released in May 2011. Buddy then joined the band and it grew to six members by the EP “Idle Beauty,” released in September 2014.
Now a band of five, Daniel shares there have been several comings and goings of different members over time. “It might be true that I am difficult to work with…no one will confront me about it, which is also an indicator that I am difficult to work with,” Daniel says with a smile. “I’m doing the best I can here,” he laughs. “I channel a lot. And I think that can be intimidating to those whose skillset is based on classical training. But I know my end dream. It’s this band that’s willing to channel what I’m channeling…we are doing it and it’s new every time.”
Daniel believes in a band that is fully consensus-based, while many of his peers have front men or women who are making final decisions. He explains that because of this, it’s no surprise it took nearly five years to make the second record “Welcome You,” released this past June 2015. The album needed to be a collaborative effort where every member supported the final product. From the release of the first album to the second, Daniel has seen members and management change, personal lives evolve, and an even stronger dedication to his craft.
I may not know the words/That you would like to hear/I may not believe the truth/That you’ve been holding fear/But there’s something on your table/That I can call it home/You know I never have a dime to gamble/Or a cover of my own/I know this aint the song/That you been hoping for/This road is hard and wild/But it brought me to your door (Motopony, I’m Here Now)
“There’s a togetherness and I believe that the purpose of art is to bring people into that place and when I can see it, recognize it and allow myself to occupy the reality of it, that’s the best.”
The Vulnerability of it All
Sharing one’s work through a live performance may be one of the more personally exposing experiences out there, bringing out a range of emotions and responses. Daniel describes how there are times he can get stuck on a disapproving look from someone in the audience, to feeling an almost euphoric or holy feeling in expressing his art. “There’s a potential at every show to be in the moment with an unarguable knowledge that it’s happening. People are there, they’re looking at me, I’m looking at them, sound is coming out of my body and into a system of amplification. My mate’s fingers are moving long coils of metals. There’s a togetherness and I believe that the purpose of art is to bring people into that place and when I can see it, recognize it and allow myself to occupy the reality of it, that’s the best.”
There are also times where creative work is compromised by the nature of business and money. Daniel recalls the perspective he gained when the band needed to make ends meet for production of the “King of Diamonds” video in Las Vegas. In order to pay for airfare, Motopony performed at a regional cell phone meet-and-greet event. They were set up next to the bar, with harsh and unflattering halogen lighting, a bad sound system and a rude sound guy. The only people paying attention were in line nearby for free drinks. “I thought, I am the archetype of a whore in this moment. And that’s okay, sure, all is life. There’s something to be known about that, but now I have compassion for people who are stuck in a situation where they have to give away the best of themselves in order to survive.”
Singing, songwriting, touring and simply living can all take a toll in one way or another. Daniel feels the hardest part is finding space. “There must be self in order for community to function. And yet, community in its nature wants participation. And so there’s a balance…I only find that balance if I set alarms on my phone that say ‘you need to take a step back and breathe for a little bit and just be. Stop thinking about what you need to do and just breathe.’”
You’ve got everything together/You’ve got everything I want/You’ve got sharp & sparkling pleasure/Even from the middle of your card/I’ve been looking for the king of diamonds/You know I’ve got the other three/Spades and clubs they just ain’t shining/And my heart knows nothing’s free (Motopony, King of Diamonds)
“You need to take a step back and breathe for a little bit and just be. Stop thinking about what you need to do and just breathe.”
Striving for More
The band recently released an EP in October 2015, “Naked at the Abbey (Live at Abbey Road),” from a November 2014 trip to the iconic studio. The EP features live tracks of several songs from previous albums. This December, Daniel will return back to Abbey Road where he was invited to finish his second solo project. His first solo project, “The Agreeable White Tiger Moth, Vol. 1,” was released in April 2014.
Daniel will spend six weeks in London, a place where he feels a strong sense of connection, staying through the holidays and enjoying a traditional country Christmas. “I felt more at home in London than I’ve felt anywhere in the world. There’s a commitment to the English language that demands a very sophisticated conversation. And I love it. As a lyricist and lover of language, I love engaging on that plane of vocabulary and expression…I stayed up well beyond serving hours every night I was there, talking to people, I was so thrilled I was there,” Daniel shares.
As an artist and a creative, there’s a constant need to develop better work and never become stagnant or complacent, to continue defining art in new ways. Reflecting on the feeling of releasing his first album several years ago, Daniel expresses how he is always striving for more. “I actually dreamed of it before it happened. In the dream, I walked into a store and picked up a product off the shelf. I knew it was mine…I looked on the back of the product, it was saying thank you to my mom and I began to weep. I knew I did it. Years later when it actually occurred, I thought, ‘well if this is possible, what the hell am I doing with my life?’ It’s never enough, is it? The pleasures of fulfilling a quest or achieving a goal are wonderful…But I don’t think it’s possible for me to sit too long in that space. I have no idea what will happen if I’m satisfied.”
This deep-seeded drive is what transforms his talent into success for Motopony. Just like an appearance of a blue moon, Daniel is anything but ordinary.
Perhaps I knew her long ago/I wrote her poems at nine years old/But then I did become a man/The letter slipped right through my hands/Practiced all my wit and charm/Had many girls on every arm/I learned the depths of love and hate/But never did learn how to wait/Wait for you/You say it like it’s easy to do/What a thing/To believe/In a dream (Motopony, Wait for Me)