#CREATORTALK is a series of articles and interviews, with a focus on the creative industries and the talent working within them.
In this edition of #CREATORTALK, we speak to American composer Vylet Pony. I included their album Glitter in October’s VMD; and Vylet was kind enough to answer some questions about it and their experiences as an artist:
PW – Hello Vylet. How’s it going?
I am doing quite alright as it stands, thank you.
PW – So, first things first: how would you sum up who you are and what you do?
I always just like to say I’m a kid from California making songs in my bedroom – making music and putting together stories all the time.
PW – You work within an eclectic range of musical genres. Is there one you have a particular affinity for?
Well in terms of the genres I make, I couldn’t really pick a favourite. I bounce from one to another as my mood and inspiration goes. It often ends up feeling like other musicians are resistant to following their own interests and habitually lock themselves in a certain mode of creation, breeding some heavy writer’s block in the process.
Since I had started releasing music, from the beginning I tried to make sure people were familiar with the fact that I’ll do absolutely anything I can try successfully. However, if I could name anything I have a deep love for, it would be progressive rock. I grew up with it and it endowed the most potent interest in music I’ve ever had, really.
PW – Which artists would you say particularly inspire you?
To throw out some names, artists and groups such as: The Family Crest, Genesis, Porter Robinson, Toe, Tennyson, Savant, Glenn Miller, Kotoringo, Space Laces, KLRX, Rex Orange County, Frank Ocean and Shaky Graves to name a few – all people who’ve properly inspired my music. Inspiration for me come from absolutely everywhere, to make the list that short is already a sin for me.
But any person who knows me well enough knows that I could go on and on about my inspiration from early Genesis. My whole desire to create stories comes from hearing albums like The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway and A Trick of the Tail (and the Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins eras are equally wonderful in different ways). The lyrics, the music, the stories – everything resonated with me even as a kid.
I’ve been writing music amateurishly since 2006, but I got serious with it in 2011 or so. It had been a dream of mine to make music like what I was directly inspired by, but I didn’t have the capacity or understanding to do that way back then. But now, given how many things I’ve learned and how much experience I’ve garnered, I took up learning electronic music just so I could learn how to do everything else; I can feel myself moving closer to making some sort of electronic progressive synth-rock music – maybe a full album of it sometime.
PW – The fandoms you are a member of (particularly My Little Pony) play an important role in your work. Why do you feel so inspired by them?
I’m in love with escapism and fantasy in the context of creativity. But nothing embraced this side of me more than My Little Pony. A lot of adult fans of the show will try and justify their interest in it one way or another, but it’s really just a kid’s show at face value – I can’t tell you any different.
However that’s not to detract from the rich nature of it, in my opinion. I can’t speak for anyone else but myself, but introspectively I’ve always held an affinity for deep stories and themes being expressed in high fictional settings, and that has a lot to do with escapism. The real world is absolutely necessary, that’s rather imperative, but in a world of fiction I can leave my stress behind. Burdens are stripped away and I’m left purely with the curiosity and enthusiasm of a child. It’s magical.
PW – You’ve created concept albums in the past. Would you describe Glitter as one of them?
Glitter is certainly a concept album of some variety, but not like many of my other ones. With my Starship Ponyville story, including albums such as Mystic Acoustics, the concept is much less abstract and focuses on a specific story, characters, and events. Glitter is like an old VHS of family videos, strung together so that each little story has its place, but does not weigh more in importance than the other. It’s a collection of mementos, memoirs, and ideas from different characters and states of mind.
PW – One thing which struck me about the album was how I didn’t feel excluded from it, despite its more specific references. Was this intentional?
My goal has always been to make music that everyone can listen to. For people who are fans of MLP, are furries, or whatever, my music is to be direct and correlate with what my interests are along with theirs – but for people who are just listeners alone, the artwork, inspiration, and branding I go for is just part of the aesthetic I’d like to think. That’s all to say it’s certainly intentional. Something I find about a lot of fandom inspired music is it tried to hard to parallel the juvenile nature of whatever it is they’re deriving from, but I like to tone it down a bit and create for a wider audience.
There’s actually a lot of discourse within these groups – sometimes people will get upset if you don’t sample or reference something directly enough. It gets rather exhausting and stressful when people are weighing to what degree you directly reference something you’re inspired by and tell you things like “well it doesn’t sample the My Little Pony show enough, so you don’t make REAL horse songs”. I have to laugh at that for my sanity, but it really is silly.
PW – The album’s opening track features a sample from an interview with Friendship is Magic creator Lauren Faust. She discusses gender representation and role models. How important are issues like these to you and your work?
Let’s face it head on: I didn’t use to be like this. Catch me four years ago, completely oblivious and uncaring about what these kind of issues are valued as. But, as I’ve grown up more, I’ve matured and seen the importance of social issues worldwide, so much so that I had understood and developed my own personal identities. People need to hear these messages. As cliche as it can sound, when people know they’re not alone, they become more confident and are inspired to do more; and there’s a surprising amount of girls who have fuck all to resonate with in popular culture. You tend to relate to a character or figure that’s like you a bit more than if there’s a disconnect.
I’d say that these sort of things are monumentally important to me in what I do, because I know it would’ve been astronomically more difficult for me to develop my own personal identities, if not for the brave LGBTQ+ faces of the world stepping out into culture and social media to tell people it’s okay to be who you are. The bravery is taking that first step, somewhere, somehow, and others will follow. That’s how you create change. If I can have a hand in helping others discover themselves and embrace themselves, I’m met with unending happiness about it.
PW- This site focuses heavily on creativity and the real people behind the art. How does creativity affect you on a day to day basis? Do you map everything out in advance, or does inspiration often strike you out of nowhere?
In terms of creativity in my everyday life, I’m always listening to music and looking at art. Being inspired and consuming content on your own is part of the process of learning and engaging the creative mindset. That’s step one for anything I do, is being inspired. Sometimes I plan things, but they’re mostly concepts and loose ideas, occasionally lyrics (but I’m not much of a lyricist).
Most everything comes out of spontaneous ideas and inspiration. A lot of times it will start with a guitar riff, or some piano improv, or a sound design experiment. I often work with my close childhood friend Izzy, he goes by Sylver – when we work together, there’s always something crazy about to happen, for sure. We’ve never gone in to play some music and not come out with some wild ideas.
PW- What are your ambitions for the future?
Lately I’ve been doing contract work alongside my own personal projects. People will commission me to make some music for them. Since I’m in college, I have to limit how many of these I can do, but I typically sell out instantly, and even before, I open up commissions. I feel like this is something I can flesh out more in the future and do it full time. I feel well suited to do this kind of work since my inspiration and skill set reaches so many genres that I can fulfill much of what people need without question – and when I can’t, it’s just a matter of learning.
But I also want to grow and reach more audiences. The sky’s the limit and I’ll never stop working to reach the forefront of music.
PW- In this kind of economy and industry, it can be tough to feel like you’re moving forwards sometimes. How do you battle these feelings when they come up, and do you have any advice for other people who might be struggling in a similar way?
Most of the time it can feel like it’s you against the world and that’s tough. The reality is that I feel music is becoming far more accessible and resources are increasingly available, which is something to celebrate and take advantage of. My advice is that music is creative and should always be fun. No matter how far you go, if you have a passion for creating, don’t heed to anyone else’s accord but your own. Keep learning. Keep trying.
PW- And final question. Actually it’s more of an invitation. Feel free to use the next few sentences to self-promote the hell out of what you’re up to.
I’m working on the biggest album I’ve ever made. I have a very talented team of illustrators, vocalists, and creators of all sorts backing me on this monumental project. I’m expecting to have it complete and released by January 25. To keep up with that you can follow me on YouTube and Twitter. Those are the places I’m most active: