There’s more than a little quizzical amusement in Poni Hoax lead singer Nicolas Ker’s voice when he discusses his band’s many influences. “Everybody wants to have a disco beat, and nobody listens to disco,” he exclaims. “In the band, nobody knows disco, nobody owns disco records.”
In a way, it’s a perplexing statement coming from a band that is primarily known for the steamy Italo-disco of their debut single “Budapest.” Helmed by guest vocalist Olga Kouklaki, “Budapest” is a sparse, seductive dancefloor burner with gothic strings and abrasive modulating synths. It’s a track that makes melodrama sound stylish, paranoia appear sexy.
But Poni Hoax would be loath to say that they are merely another disco-rock act. In fact, the quintet would not go as far as to say they are any “kind” of band, a fact that becomes evident on their 2006 self-titled debut LP. Choppy new wave, murder ballads, and the aforementioned disco all have roles in the mix–using Joy Division, Nick Cave, Devo, and Giorgio Moroder as musical touchstones.
“It’s a bit of a patchwork,” Ker explains. “The guys did a lot of different things [before Poni Hoax]: some did rap, they all did free jazz, they did funk bands. We can’t do one style; it’s impossible for us.”
Working with eclectic producer and Tigersushi label head Joakim has certainly made things a bit easier. “He’s like the arbiter,” Ker continues, “like the guy on the football field who says, ‘No, your foot goes there.’ Everybody thinks Joakim brings the electronic side–not at all.”
In fact, it seems the electronic element of Poni Hoax’s sound is less beholden to producers or the Paris DJ scene than it is to something much more fundamental: girls. “Laurent [Bardainne, Poni Hoax guitarist/composer] was coming from harsh jazz music, and he was fed up with having 10 people in front of him analyzing everything he played. So he said, ‘Let’s do something with a disco beat, so we’ll have a lot of cute girls dancing!’” explains Ker.