By Emily Corley
The delightfully kooky Phono Pony, who reportedly met while “competing in a hot air balloon race,” are in the midst of organizing a U.S. tour, running The Woods Studio (an independent music and arts space) and releasing their latest album, Monkey Paw.
The excitement for the upcoming tour is palpable: “We play at Slab City, a squatter’s camp in the desert. The last free place in America, apparently. They have their own laws.” Guitarist Michael Kenyon reveals, animatedly. “Yeah, so we may join a hippy commune and never come back,” drummer and synth player Shay Hayashi pitches in.
It is in fact a huge understatement to describe these two musicians by listing the instruments they play, because the list is endless. As a two-piece, they have become experimental multi-instrumentalists, playing whatever is necessary “to make the songs sound super full when there’s only two people.”
“It’s a good challenge though!” Hayashi laughs. “We just have to play multiple instruments.”
Although they have thought about asking more musicians to join the band, Phono Pony remains a self-contained unit of two for now.
“It’s just really easy to manage just having two of us. We have a great connection and we agree on a lot of things,” Kenyon explains. “No we don’t!” Hayashi interjects, before he corrects his statement to “When we don’t agree on things, we don’t go forward with them.”
Aside from Phono Pony, the band’s other creation is the Woods Studio, a community-based multi-purpose project offering music tuition, recording facilities, jam space and an events venue. In addition to all of that, it’s absolutely one of the quirkiest, most fun places that Vancouver has to offer. Wooden horses gallop free across the ceiling, plants climb the walls, and the whole space looks like your eccentric old aunt’s living room. Check out the music video for their “bubbly, summery” latest release “00100” for a peek into the lair.
Phono Pony are a band who are genuinely in the midst of a fervent love-affair with music. They speak ardently about music history and the impact that modern technology is having on sound. It’s a real passion project for Kenyon, who says: “We just put this little piece of ourselves out there and people will make what they want of it.”
Hayashi agrees the organic approach to crafting songs is what works best for them. “If you do something with a predetermined outcome then it’s not gonna feel legit. People can see, taste, feel and smell when something’s not genuine. You have to be selfish and you have to fulfill what you’re trying to do. But you also hope that it connects to other people. Freakin’ art!”
Phono Pony perform at the Astoria on October 13.