We caught up with singer, Danielle Ponder, to talk about her latest release ‘Blow Out The Sun’, touring, and the local music scene.
How was your release show at the German House?
It was amazing, I could not have asked for a better release party it was packed, I was a little nervous cause ‘Oh God this is the German House’. There is pressure to bring the people out but the people came out. They came out all walks of life, we had a seventy year old woman to 18 year old kids. Black, White, Latino, you know people all over the spectrum. We had a judge there, we several attorneys there, I’m an attorney as well. You had everybody, you had your hippie who’s probably high right now, and then you had a judge right next to her, all brought together for the love of the music.
Was the show recorded?
Yeah, Matt Ramerman did the live recording, I was listening to it last night and the audience was insane. We also had a videographer who approached me the day before and asked if he could record the show, and I was like, uh yeah. So it was awesome, it was really awesome. He’s gonna put something together, he just got the sound tracks, and were gonna release it.
The EP has caught some foreign attention if I’m not mistaken?
Yeah, were actually going on a small tour so well be gone for about ten days starting march 30th, with seven shows. London was a place I really wanted to break ground into because I think they have a real appreciation for soul music so I started working with a London booking agent and PR company and we actually just got an email today that were going to be a contacted by a local BBC station.
Is this your first time going on tour out of the country?
No, last year we did a tour as well. It was a two week tour throughout Europe, absolutely amazing. So were pretty much repeating the places we went except for a new venue in London and a new venue in France and a new venue in Hamburg.
What other places did you stop at?
We went to Brussels, and Belgium. We went to Barcelona, we didn’t play but we were just hanging out. We went to Berlin, Germany, and Amsterdam. Then a month later I went to Italy and sang at my friends wedding.
Do you have any US tour plans?
That’s really the next step for me, I’m really believing and putting in writing that by the end of the year we will have a booking agent. For some reason though, it’s just easier to book in Europe. It’s easier to get a show in Paris France than it is in NYC.
Where did you record your EP?
I recorded in two places, Levi Bennets studio and with Matt Ramermen in The Green Room.
This isn’t the first release you’ve had.
No, this is my third time doing an album, but this is my first solo album. I did two albums with Black August as the lead singer, and Filthy Funk I was the lead singer and lyricist.
How did you find the Tomorrow People?
So, the funny thing about it, when I came up with the name Tomorrow People it was never supposed to literally mean the band. It was kind of like Florence and The Machine, Hootie and The Blow Fish, it’s more like a movement. So the band, I found through other music channels, like Carter Wilcox he’s really known in the R&B Urban scene and he helped me connect to Avis and Cory. Then Tim Cash I met through another bass player. Pete Bunts, he actually heard us on NPR on the Scott Reagan show, and he called in and that was all she wrote. We’ve been working together for three years.
When did you start doing music?
You know my dad is a musician, he plays piano great blues guitar harmonica, we always had a drum set we always had a piano. Anyone in our family could put together a song so music has just been a constant in my life and my family. My dad’s a pastor so there’s a bit of a performance there as well. Susan Tudeschi and Big Momma Thorton we made me say oh I’m gonna sing like that and not try to sound cute. I started playing solo shows with just me and my guitar. I used to do acoustic night at Javas, I used to perform in school in undergrad, and was just doing very politically charged self righteous music, I was defining myself and my politics. It’s like when you first go to church and find Jesus, and you cant stop talking about Jesus, that’s how I was, couldn’t stop talking about only that. That was probably 12 13 years ago.
How long were you doing solo work before Black August?
Not that long, maybe a year. Black August is my family so I’ve always been involved with them. They’re my cousins and my brothers so we were playing music together forever. Then around 2002, we wanted to form a band and first we were called natural tones but it was so corny I’m happy we didn’t go with that. We were the house band at Javas open mic. It was a really legendary time in Rochester history where Javas had this open mic and Hassan Mackey was there there was Tears, even Amir Soyemon who went on to do bigger and better things came in as a guest poet. It was such a dope era, that’s where my band was playing out the most.
Who in the local scene are you feeling right now?
There is so many people right now but I will say that Suburban Plaza will blow your mind. Oh my god. This band is Jimi Hendrix meets D’Angelo meets Prince meets Chuck Berry, they’re like this neo rock soul group and I heard them for the firs time at flower city station and mind blown. One of the best live bands ever. They’re definitely at the top of my list. Cammy Enaharo, who has the voice of a freaking’ angel, sometimes I was in the studio and would think “Can’t Cammy just come in here and sing this?!”. She just has a completely flawless voice, and is very humble and gracious. Giant Panda Guerrilla Dub Squad, they’re not really local but they are kind of the road map for me, like where I wanna be in a couple years. They are doing there thing nationally they have a great agent they have a great manager and they come home and they always reach out to other bands. Like on new years eve they had us open up for them, they didn’t need us to open up for them that place was gonna be sold out with or without us. That’s kind of a band I’m looking up to. Thunderbody is another band that I really love what they’re doing. I also don’t look at just only like I love their music but I like their business model I like their graphics. I.Am.Tru.Starr, he’s a good friend of mine who’s a hip hop artist. I think he is doing amazing innovative hip hop music. Mochester, like, Vocals are on point like damn! There’s just so many people, I don’t know it’s just booming with talent.
Outside of music, what’s it like, a day in the life of Danielle Ponder?
Well I don’t really relax, during the day I’m a Monroe county public defender so I represent poor people who cannot afford an attorney, and that’s enough. I do that and I do music and I try to sleep somewhere in between. Probably the only other thing I do is hang out with my little nephew, he’s like my best friend. He is where I can be removed from everything. That is the time when I’m most removed from everything.