» Interview: mmmandarinorange

mmmandarinorange is the creator behind notable PMVs such as Discord Days and The Stars Will Aid in Her Escape.  Although he does not have a large volume of videos his impact on the PMV scene is undeniable.  Read on to find out what happens when I put the squeeze on this orange and see what kind of punch he packs!

First of all, thank you for doing this interview mmmandarinorange!  Why don’t you start off by telling us a little about yourself?

I was hatched in the humid squalor of a small South-East Asian quagmire, and as a tiny grub was exposed to what would simultaneously be the best and worst thing to happen to me: the Internet. For the next decade and a half, I would flit around from one online community to another, like a drunken moth dazzled by so many pretty lights, never putting down roots in any of them. I’m a programmer drone by day and professional weirdo by night, and ponies have been one of the more recent and lasting fascinations in my short, short existence in this particular plane of reality.

When I’m not obsessed with ponies, I tend to poke at video games, do some reading, or trawl music blogs, pretending my love for Ke$ha is ironic. I adore Haruki Murakami’s work, probably more than I ought to.

When I was 14 I won a writing contest, and I was gifted with a book that had a horse on the cover and written by nobody I knew of. I never read it. In hindsight, it was probably the universe trying to tell me something.

Before we talk to you about Pony Music Videos, why don’t you tell us exactly what got you into this whole pony phenomenon in the first place?

I have a friend, an animation buff and collector of ponies, who kept bugging me to watch this confounded show about small horses. This was way back in November 2010. I was impressed by the animation, but it didn’t quite hook me, and I shamefully admit that I spent the next five months blissfully unaware of one of the most bizarre and delightful cultural phenomenons taking place right underneath my nose.

The next time I ran into ponies, it was through Eurobeat remixes and Touhou mash-ups. Curious as to what could cause such an outpouring of fanmade media, I watched an episode at random, then another, and another. I woke up in a puddle of my own friendship after mainlining the first 25 episodes. I haven’t looked back since.

What inspired you to want to take this cartoon and make music videos with it?  Have you done much video editing before making these PMVs?

Ponies are my first brush with video editing. I’ve seen AMVs before, and enjoyed them tremendously, but it wasn’t until I watched a few PMVs that I was inspired to give it a try.

I think the catalyst was a combination of familiarity with the source material, and watching a lot of fanmade videos, including LG573‘s output, in particular “Be Nice To Twilight Sparkle”. It feels obvious now, editing and reordering scenes like that to completely change their context, but at the time it felt like witchcraft. Videos like “Is Spike Gay Or European”, though crude by today’s standards, illuminated me to just how expressive the animation is in the show itself. “Race Like Rainbow Dash” taught me plenty about applying a little visual flair to add punch to a video.  Many of the lessons I learnt just by watching other people ply their craft, and they are lessons I still apply today.

What is your favourite PMV and why?

It’s so hard for me to play favorites; I want to be democratic about what I like, and also because it’s possible to like things for entirely different reasons. There’s no one-size-fits-all scale that I can use to rank the PMVs I love. My favorites also change a lot, and the list just gets bigger by the day.

“Luna Does Not Need A Microphone” is up there. “Dash’s Determination” is a recent addition. You may as well throw everything SnivianMoon and LimeyLassen has ever made in there too, frankly. Shiropoint’s always led the way when it comes to making punchy, eye-popping vids. (He also totally did justice to best pony; favourite might be too small a word for that one.)

But if I had to pick only one, right now, this instant… The Way Through World of Discord would be it. Mysterious, tense, but not without a sense of playfulness, mischief, and genuine bewilderment, it does a wonderful job of putting its own spin on the video that it’s based on, and I still find myself surprised by how much I like a video in which one pony walks from left to right the entire time. It has all the qualities I like about pony videos, somehow wrapped up into a tight five minutes. It’s the only PMV of its kind, and the best of its kind.

Appleoosan Psychiatrist and Pink Party Pony Pandemonium, your first two videos, were extremely fun!  I enjoyed them immensely. Is there any behind the scenes information you can give us about their creation?

They were both very spontaneous ideas, spurred on by similar videos. I wish I had scans of storyboards or sketches in which I plotted out each video, but the truth is that I tend to just listen to the songs over and over until I actually ‘see’ the video in my head. Then it’s usually a case of trying to translate that into something I can share with other people. With Appleloosan Psychiatrist, once I made the connection between Applejack and the song’s disturbed and indignant cowboy, it sort of wrote itself. When your muse hands you a free pass like that, you don’t turn your nose up at it.

I want to say that Appleloosan Psychiatrist was fairly straightforward to make, but it really wasn’t! It was my first time doing any form of lip sync, and I had to redo Applejack and Rarity’s fight sequence about 3 times over before I was happy with it. Philomena and Scootaloo’s respective sections also took a lot of time; I couldn’t visualize beatboxing in my head very well, and I ended up cutting out every instance of their appearance in the show and choosing the sillier clips to work with. It surprised me too, as Scootaloo got a ton of attention just by dragging her butt along the ground. I guess Applejack is just doomed to stay out of the limelight. It still remains my favorite out of all the videos I’ve made so far, largely because it does so much with so little.

Shiropoint’s “Play Like Pinkie Pie” convinced me to try making a more personality-driven video, less about story and more about matching effects and careful choice of music. I deliberately avoided emulating Shiropoint’s silhouette-heavy style and tried my best to make it look distinct despite the similar subject matter. Making Pink Party Pony Pandemonium was an impulsive move, and I feel that the lack of planning shows in the limp climax and its numerous syncing and masking mistakes. It ended up being the video I like the least out of everything I’ve done so far, but I also learnt a lot from making it, so it evens out.

Your last video, The Stars Will Aid in Her Escape, was one of the first dramatic PMVs that gained a significant amount of attention. What made you decide to make such a serious music video out of My Little Pony?

It all boils down to the fandom, in the end. (I think that’s going to be my default answer to every question in this interview: “The fandom made me do it.”)

There was a point in the Friendship is Magic fandom when the Sad Luna trope was all the rage, and while I found myself sneering at the abundance of it, I secretly loved it. Fan art of Sad Luna on the moon, Sad Luna piano instrumentals – I ate it all up. I tend to sway towards the melodramatic, often against my better judgement, so the fanon’s characterization of Luna as a tragic deity was practically magnetic. I love Florence & The Machine for largely the same reasons; that tremendous voice, and the gift of epic hyperbole. I think Cosmic Love is brilliant in that regard; it’s a breakup song writ large, and when you’ve never felt heartbreak before, it can feel like the shifting of planets and the dimming of stars, and the song captures that perfectly. Well, that and it fit Sad Luna really well.

But while I had a character and a song that fit her fanon to a tee, I only had about 20 seconds worth of Luna footage to work with. This was before season 2 came along and doubled the fun, so my hands were tied – at least, until I thought about making Twilight Sparkle the focus instead. It was a textbook example of epiphany; within the next five listens of the song, I had the major scenes all plotted out in my mind’s eye. That ending defies being written down on paper – “a giant rainbow vanquishes evil to the tune of failed intergalactic romance” – but I still get shivers down my back every time I see that rainbow rise up to the swell of Florence Welch’s voice, and I knew that at least one other person would feel the exact same way if they saw it, and that was all the encouragement I needed.

I don’t think it was a question of whether I wanted to make a serious PMV. It didn’t feel like a conscious decision, like I stood up one day and declared “I’m gonna make a dramatic music video about My Little Pony!” I wasn’t thinking about categories at the time. I just made it, and never once entertained the possibility that I would not. I think if I even doubted it for a second, I would never have finished it.

Continued on Page Two…

Share your thoughts

  1. Thanks for taking the time for this interview you two! And thanks for your hard work!

    It’s neat to see how others develop things. I’ll have to say I enjoy The Stars Will Aid In Her Escape most of those videos, but they’re all very good.