I like being all over the place,” Steven Battles said. “I like doing lounge music, rock n roll and pop. Working with different producers is one of my favorite things.” The Oklahoma native is currently involved in no less than eight separate performing and recording projects in the metro area. His first show was at Norman Music Festival III in 2010 as Chrome Pony. At this year’s festival he was billed as Pink Pony in a duo with DJ Christina Fallin. Battles plays in gritty garage rock outfit Girl’s Night Out, a combo called Pony Death Bang and is bassist for Jacob Abello’s Pretty Boy. Late Night Jazz is a new group. “There are jazz elements,” Battles said. “For me it’s not jazz at all, it’s more like weird electronic pop, my version of jazz.” Tuesdays with Pony is one of his latest endeavors. The intent is an early evening event every Tuesday at the Opolis although the venue may vary in the future. “The shows will change every week depending on the material I have,” Battles said. “It’s based on my radio show (KSOU 91.7 FM Fri. midnight) with talking, mood music and setting an atmosphere. Eventually I want to get it to a local Tonight Show.”
Theatrical elements, interviews with friends and interludes of solo musical performance with guitar contribute to the vibe. Battles’ personal delivery of Andy Williams’ chestnut “Moon River” is a crowd favorite. If you never thought you’d hear Jackie Gleason easy listening music in Norman’s premier indie rock club that notion may be dispelled one of these Tuesdays. “I also have guest musicians strip down to guitars and vocals to give it a café feel,” he said. “A chilled-out lounge kind of night.” Instrumental music in the Brian Eno vein both live and recorded may be expected. “I love going through the dollar bins at Guestroom Records,” he said. “I have this great record by Brazil’s number one organist and I use that all the time, along with Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass.” Tweaking the experience from early Tuesday nights has moved Battles from ambient sound in a bar to taking charge of the audience’s attention. “I want to turn it more toward theater and not be just background music,” he said. “The audience has been receptive and its funny when you’re telling your audience to shut up and pay attention, people need to be told what to do.”
He has learned that this isn’t a miraculous feat if the show is well planned in advance. Because of his involvement with many other musicians and entertainers Battles draws much of his creative inspiration from friends and collaborators. He works with Broncho’s Ben King and many others. “Life in Oklahoma inspires me,” said the young man wearing an OKC Thunder ball cap. “I want to capture from my perspective what’s going on here. Norman in particular is a place I’ve obsessed over.” Battles writes about music for Boyd Street Magazine and he works in various capacities at Blackwatch (recording) Studios, 107 W. Comanche. “I do studio management and production assistant kind of stuff,” Battles said. He performs at Norman venues the Deli and Tres as well as aforementioned Opolis. “Oklahoma life inspires both my radio show and the music I write,” he said. “I’ve traveled but this state is really all I know.” Limited artistic opportunities are a challenge to him rather than an impediment. “As opposed to NY or LA, here you get to make things happen because it’s pretty underdeveloped and you can help direct and push it,” Battles said. “In the big cities there’s already an established system.” He’s uber-enthusiastic about what Norman Music Festival has done for central Oklahoma. “2103 was amazing,” Battles said. “I was lucky to have my first show three years ago and every year it gets better. The stage, lighting, sound, bigger crowd and everything, those shows charge me up for another entire year.” Pink Pony featured DJ Christina Fallin transitioning recorded tracks with fluidity Battles didn’t have before. “Christina’s got lots of different things she can do and I don’t understand DJ-ing that well,” he said. “Just having her on stage makes me feel more comfortable because everyone is looking at her.”
If You Go
What: Pony Death Bang, Prettyboy and Poolboy in concert.
When: 8 p.m. tonight, Friday May 31.
Where: Opolis micro venue, 113 N. Crawford.
Steven Battles has focused his creative energies with inspiration from sweet home Oklahoma.