By Johnny Fantastic
It’s seven o’clock in the morning, and I have Poppet’s Bandcamp playing off my phone as I make breakfast. A soft elven voice calls out, distant and longing, and I go into a quiet trance. Then suddenly “bang bang bang” from the backyard erupts into my kitchen and shakes the foundations of my house.
How fitting that a week out of President-elect Real Estate’s inauguration construction crews would be tearing up my back alley all hours of the day.
With jackhammers pounding and singer Molly Raney now screaming about a forced marriage, the contrast of aesthetics seems all too real.
Poppet is smack in the middle of a month-long cross country tour with TV Girl that will take them to Washington DC’s Black Cat on January 19. I wondered how Molly’s tour was going, and how she felt about dropping into the district right in the middle of the political shit show.
Poppet plays the Black Cat on Thursday with TV Girl.
Brightest Young Things: How long have you been on the road, and how long are you going to be on the road? What have been some of your notable stops?
Poppet: We started tour on January 4, and we’ll finish up February 10. My favorite stop so far has been San Antonio – the cities where you have the fewest expectations often end up as favorites.
BYT: Protesters and supporters (and everything in between) are going to be flooding into the district the week of your Black Cat show. What is Poppet going to add to this cauldron of emotions and rhetoric? Are you here to entertain the troops as it were? If so, which troops?
Poppet: I feel fortunate to play D.C. the night before the inauguration. It’s an opportunity to witness and participate directly in a significant moment in U.S. history.
My set this tour speaks to my growing disenchantment with our national identity as we move further into a technology, rapid-information saturated world that polarizes and divides. I want to advocate for the grey areas, because in the end, we are all American, and in order to survive and thrive, I believe we need to see the beauty in the grey instead of hanging onto two opposing extremes.
BYT: Do you think art will change with the change in leadership over the coming years? Do you expect it to affect your art?
Poppet: Certainly. The most effective art offers in the least a portrait of modern society and at its highest a deeper commentary that can incite awareness, growth, and subversion. My own art has already been affected by the impending new era of leadership and the influence will continue as history unfolds.
BYT: Your songs often sound like lullabies with soft operatic arias, then suddenly you scream, “This song is for all the motherfucking rapists out there!” Is there an intention behind the severe emotional shifts in your show, or is that just who Molly Raney is?
Poppet: Absolutely. Reality is full of starkly contrasting beauty and harshness. But again, those emotional extremes must meet somewhere in the middle and fuse into a grey. I hope to fuse the dark and the light.
BYT: What pushes you to make such stark and radical art? Is it the desire to shock and impress the audience or to bring out something from deep within yourself?
Poppet: Creation is an enigma. Of course, I always hope to leave an impression on listeners, but more than anything performing and recording music is my way of processing my emotional reactions to my personal life and the world at large. Also, we create the deepest connections with others by sharing the innermost parts of ourselves. As a humanist, it is one of my top priorities to establish strong connections with those around me.
BYT: The last time I saw you play, I remember there were these bros standing in the front row and I was thinking to myself, “Oh no! They are not ready for this” and to my shock they really dug Poppet. Are you ever surprised by the people you meet on the road who are touched by what you do?
Poppet: Consistently. By default, I expect people to dislike what I do. It’s a form of protection. So, when I get positive and meaningful responses from people I wouldn’t expect, I feel gratified and justified in continuing to do what I do.
BYT: In the past, Poppet has performed with dancers, in particular, an incredible dancer named Nina Joly. Can we expect dance to be a part of Poppet’s show on this tour? Or any other hijinx for that matter?
Poppet: Dance/staging elements have always been a part of Poppet sets.Though I am performing solo this time around, you can certainly expect plenty of movement. The level of hijinx is directly correlated to audience participation.
BYT: Give us a short rundown of what we can expect from poppet this year.
Poppet: This year, I will be working on re-recording the demos for my second album in a chamber setting.
In the shorter term, I’m working on an EP of covers and originals dedicated to an incredible friend I lost last summer.