Sam Bielanksi, the lead of band PONY, started her musical group in her bedroom with her friend, writing songs about their love lives and relationships. With the releases of EPs and hit singles, like “DIY” and “Alone Tonight”, PONY has become a band to listen to with the mixture of different styles and sounds. Sam Bielanksi looks to inspire other people to just play music and to just go for it. Look for the band’s new album coming out soon!
BL: How old were you when you started to make music?
Sam: I started learning how to play guitar when I was 18. The summer after I graduated high school my father passed away and I went to live with my mom and stepdad in the literal bush of northern Ontario. We lived 45 minutes away from our already small town, we had no internet, and I couldn’t drive. I was basically an angsty teen stranded in the wilderness. I borrowed an acoustic guitar from one of my friends so I could start learning how to play, and I would just listen to records in my room and try to learn the songs by ear. Once I got bored of doing that I started writing my own.
What instruments do you play?
I play guitar and bass.
What is your favorite part about being a musician?
This is a really hard question because there are so many things I love about being a musician. But, my favorite part is probably playing live. There is something really magical and empowering about performing your own songs live. A lot of the songs I write are about heartbreak, depression, gender dysphoria, and anxiety. Having the opportunity to share these songs with other people, who might be dealing with the same sort of things feels really special.
What’s the hardest thing about being in a band?
I think the hardest thing about being in a band is finding the right people to do it with. I have played music with so many people, and it’s really rare and special when you find the ones who respect your time and your vision, people who can help you create in a positive space and who listen to you.
I have played music with so many people, and it’s really rare and special when you find the ones who respect your time and your vision
How do you come up with new songs?
A lot of things inspire me to write music. A good chunk of my songs is about the aftermath of failed relationships (with partners or friends). But sometimes I will write a song about something really specific, like “Small Things”. That song was inspired by the TV show Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Other times I will be reading a book and see two words that I think sound beautiful together and try to make up a song using those words. Or else, I will sit down with a guitar and record myself in the voice memo app and then listen back and make edits until a fully formed song is born.
Who are some of your musical influences?
The first CD I ever owned was “Dookie” by Green Day. It was gifted to me by my older brother, he’s 13 years older than me and was the first person to really expose me to big guitar music. I have always admired Debbie Harry of Blondie and Kathleen Hanna. Annie Clark of St Vincent is who initially inspired me to learn guitar. I am also a big Paramore fan, I am especially obsessed with “After Laughter” their most recent record. And I know it’s not a real band but the 2001 movie Josie and the Pussycats was a HUGE influence on me as a kid, and I still think that soundtrack is perfect!
Any particular favorite songs that you’ve written?
I recently finished recording a full LP and some of my favorite songs I’ve ever written are going to be on that record. One song in particular I love is called “Cry” It’s about losing my Dad, and coming to terms with the fact that even though he was my parent he wasn’t invincible.
What advice would you give to young girls starting out?
The advice I would give would be, do not get discouraged. It takes a lot of time and practice to get good at anything, but that shouldn’t stop you. When I first started writing music I wasn’t very good at playing guitar, so I would write all the lead parts with my voice first and then try to figure out how to play what I just sang on guitar.
How do you deal with online bullying?
When it comes to bullying of any kind I try to remind myself that “hurting people, hurt people”. I think I read that in a self-help book once, but I think it’s really true. I try my best to avoid people who are going to go out of their way to make me feel small. I truly believe that in the long run, people who actively try to make others feel bad about themselves are often also hurting big time. So my advice would be to just remove yourself from any situation that isn’t making you feel good. And if you lose friends in the process, you might just be better off without them.
Remove yourself from any situation that isn’t making you feel good. And if you lose friends in the process, you might just be better off without them
What do you think makes a good friend?
I think what really makes a good friend is someone who respects you. Someone who you can laugh with but also supports you and wants to see you succeed. Someone who understands when you need time to yourself but will also be there if you need them because they know they can count on you to do the same.
What is your favorite thing to do with friends?
My favorite thing to do with friends right now is to make music. I’m really lucky because I get to play in several projects with some of my best friends!
Is there anything you are excited about in the near future?
My band and I are currently working on a Paramore cover set that I’m pretty excited about!
What is next for you in your career?
Well, I just finished recording my first full-length LP which I hope to release later this year. We are also planning to tour this summer, and I hope to lend a hand in directing the music videos we make to coincide with the record.
If you could tell your 13-year-old self one thing, what would you say?
I would tell them not to care so much about what other people think. It might sound cliche, but I think if you are constantly trying so hard to please everyone else you can really stunt your own growth. There was a time when I lost so much of myself because I was trying to be the person everyone else wanted me to be.
Top 5 things you can’t live without?
Current favorite fad?
I am really happy to see the return of the fanny pack. I just think it is so cute and so functional.
I ADORE Hayley Williams, I think she is so cool and fabulous. She is one of, if not the best vocalist/live performer I have ever seen.