Allison Ponthier's new EP "Shaking Hands with Elvis" takes us on a theatrical journey of empowerment
Allison Ponthier recently sat down in a press conference to speak about her newest EP Shaking Hands with Elvis available for streaming now on all platforms. The singer-songwriter has a magnetic quality to her, offering sincere responses with the utmost eloquence.
Since the 2021 release of her debut project Faking My Own Death, she’s toured with Bleachers, collaborated with chilled-out indie rockers Lord Huron on the emotional single “I Lied,” and then joined them on the road—making a stop on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. She’s even played festivals like BottleRock and Austin City Limits. Raised in the suburbs of Dallas, Ponthier studied jazz vocals at the University of North Texas for a year and a half before decamping to Brooklyn. That was the first step in a personal and artistic journey that led to her coming out as queer, signing to Interscope, and finding her songwriting voice.
Shaking Hands With Elvis is a theatrical body of work that takes the listener on a journey of self discovery and empowerment. When asked to describe the EP in three words, Allison chose “honest, country, and organic.” From start to finish, the collection of songs shows Allison’s experience realizing that “saying your problems out loud can be more relieving and empowering.”
The opening track, titled “Autopilot”, is representative of the anger and resentment that she once had for being different, and screaming that out. The emotional tune stands out for its anthematic qualities, serving as the perfect song to express the restlessness that each and every young adult in today’s day in age can relate to.
Alison pays the utmost attention to detail within her songwriting. In Shaking Hands With Elvis, the singer gives an honest narration of personal experiences in her life. Allison Ponthier has a stand out talent for making music that is specific to her, yet can be universally related to because of the vulnerability and bravery that goes into each of her releases. This is beautifully displayed on “Hardcore,” where Allison recites significant moments in time using descriptive imagery in order to depict the situational resentment that she feels towards her highly sensitive and empathetic character. “When I'm listening to music, hearing really specific details of where we were or what we were feeling is what hooks me onto a song. I like to be taken along for a ride.”
Allison’s sound reaches beyond the constraints of modern genres. Her music stands out in the current pop scene with a powerful sound heavily influenced by alt-music trends while also leaning towards the western and folk categories with songs that remind listeners of country icons like Shaina Twain and Kacey Musgraves. Her wide ranging style can be attributed to her Texas roots, having grown up in Dallas before making the big move to Brooklyn, where she is currently based. Allison recalls her environment growing up as a suburban bubble, causing her to face struggles with acceptance and expressing herself within the stubborn culture that she was immersed in. When asked about the one thing that she would tell her younger self, she said, “I really thought life started and ended with the opinions of my home town, and to know that there are so many different ways that you can live and still be happy is really important.” Allison also gave some words of advice based on what she learned with her move to the city. “Moving away from somewhere and starting new will not fix all of your problems. You really do have to do the work to unlearn a lot of the things you picked up in a place that wasn't safe for you.”
In Shaking Hands with Elvis, Allison finds herself reflecting upon the concept of celebrity idolization. In her song “Hollywood Forever Cemetery,” Allison explores the line between an icon and someone who is objectified. “Some celebrities are treated well in death but were not treated well in life,” said Allison when talking about the inspiration behind the music video for “Hollywood Forever Cemetery.” “Camp is a very important theme in my work. Camp is a larger than life representation of who people are, so I'm constantly thinking about the line between camp and being respectful of people who are objectified often.”
Allison takes us on a cinematic journey in her enthralling music video, exploring her own curiosity as she takes a visit into the glamorous afterlife of some of Hollywood's biggest stars. Allison creates a theatrical universe of dreamy aesthetics curated by her genius artistic direction which throws the listener into an encompassing world of glamor and vulnerability. Watch the music video for “Hollywood Forever Cemetery” below.
This young emerging artist is wise beyond her years, having overcome personal insecurity and external judgment while learning to embrace her identity. The growth that Allison has experienced due to the hardships that she has gone through is undoubtedly proven through her humble and intelligent words. Allison has successfully reclaimed the things that caused her to struggle in the past, and uses them as fuel to empower her now.
During the conference, she talked about how her experience as a person with ADHD has impacted her approach to songwriting. “I definitely would not change anything about myself. I think it's a superpower in the sense that if I didn't have it, then I would be totally different, and I’ve really grown to love myself recently. Songwriting wise, I think that it helps because it's only the things that really stick and make me excited that make me want to continue writing a song. I also think that it has made me express myself in different ways. I’m really into the music videos and visual storytelling in songs, and I think that is a pure ADHD moment. ADHD has empowered me to celebrate and love the different ways I can express myself through art.”
The track list of the album is highly intentional, telling a story of life, death and the afterlife. The order of songs is carefully ministered by Allison to serve as a chronological account of her journey to self discovery. Early songs like “Autopilot” show her anger and resentment towards being different, while the final song and title track, “Shaking Hands with Elvis” displays her ability to overcome struggles as the most evolved version of herself. “The outro of ‘Shaking Hands with Elvis’ feels like the perfect way to end the EP, because it feels like the period at the end of the sentence.”
Allison Ponthier is in charge of every aspect of her vision. The multi-talented artist uses her interest in graphic design for anything from mocking up visuals to drawing out album covers, and she applies her skills in video editing to make social media posts and communicate the exact aesthetic that she intended for her audience to receive. She stands out in the music industry for being her complete, honest self at all times due to her involvement in every step of the creative process. When asked how she would like to be remembered as an artist, Allison said, “I would like to be remembered as someone who didn't let outside influences affect me writing honestly. There is a lot of effort and love that goes into everything that I make, and I really want people to know that it’s from me. These are accurate depictions of my life, and I’m not writing to try to impress certain groups of people. If I’m remembered for one thing, it's never compromising that.”
This 26 year old singer songwriter has quite the list of experiences under her belt. Ponthier just wrapped up a tour with Bleachers, and this month will be playing LA Pride In the Park at Los Angeles State Historic Park alongside Christina Aguilera and Anitta before playing her first headlining shows—June 14 at Brooklyn’s Baby’s All Right and June 16 at the actual Hollywood Forever Cemetery. There is a lot of exciting content and events coming up for Allison, and fans can look forward to art more honest and mature than ever before.
Click the link below to listen to Shaking Hands with Elvis available for streaming on all platforms.