Vylet Pony Learned to Embrace Her Queer Identity Through the Music of a Saturday-Morning Cartoon

“I think being as loud as possible about queerness is important, year round.”

In February of this year, internet music critic Anthony Fantano decided to give “I’ve Still Got Something to Teach You” by Portland artist Vylet Pony a listen on an episode of his online show The Needle Drop.

Most viewers were initially knee-jerk dismissive before finding it impossible to deny the sweep and complexity of the seven-minute song. “The pony song slaps srry not srry,” went one comment.

As Vylet Pony, 23-year-old Zelda Trixie Lulamoon has recorded and released a staggering amount of music, most of it rooted in the lore and fandom of the cult-classic animated series My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. The show quickly became a phenomenon when it premiered on Discovery Family in 2010, attracting an audience far beyond its target demographic of young girls—and spawning a subculture of fervent fans.

“The animation and character design is what got my attention; it’s all iconic, but what really made me fall in love with it was the music,” says Lulamoon. “It led me to watching the show and becoming acquainted with the openness and vulnerability of the stories and characters.”

Most of Vylet Pony’s music is set in the MLP universe, either detailing the exploits of the show’s characters or featuring original ponies. Her albums often stretch well over an hour in length, united by brightly colored art of ponies, and a single song might toggle between dubstep, orchestral pop, punk rock, and ambient music in just a few minutes.

Though fiction is the medium most commonly used by fans to invent new stories for their favorite characters, Lulamoon is not alone in setting the MLP universe to music. “In the MLP fandom, there’s an unfathomable amount of musicians and artists,” she says. (Indeed, the Ponies at Dawn label has put out 25 compilation albums consisting of several dozen pony-themed tracks each.)

“I’m probably best at music, compared to any other creative medium,” Lulamoon says. “But I have all these stories and ideas I want to tell. Music is the carrier for all these concepts.”

Lulamoon moved to Portland in 2019 but was born and raised in Daly City, Calif., just south of San Francisco. She first discovered internet fandom communities at age 10, gravitating toward Pokémon and furry fandoms before discovering MLP.

“I often would visit smaller, community-led websites that nobody knew about and would talk to everyone in little Flash Chat rooms,” she says.

After hearing the MLP song “This Day Aria,” from the 2012 second-season episode “A Canterlot Wedding—Part 2,” she threw herself into both MLP fandom and music, spending nearly every moment of her free time learning about music production software and writing and recording songs.

“Even during school, I would bring my laptop with me and work on stuff between classes,” she recalls. “I find it pretty easy to write lots of songs.”

The MLP community was important to Lulamoon for another reason. She identifies as trans, lesbian and neurodivergent—and meeting other people on the internet from the same communities helped her understand and define her sense of self as she grew older.

“Like a lot of internet fandoms, the MLP community attracted a very big queer and neurodivergent audience,” she says. “Being exposed to that was really important for my understanding myself better.”

Lulamoon’s headcanon—her self-invented ideas about the lore and characters of MLP, as opposed to the official “canon” established by Friendship Is Magic creator Lauren Faust—often takes on a queer angle.

A page on her website is devoted to her argument that the character Trixie is transgender, citing her design resembling that of the stallions on the show more than the mares, among other possible clues. And then there’s her song “Lesbian Ponies With Weapons,” which frames the show’s party-loving character Pinkie as a queer anarchist revolutionary.

“I think being as loud as possible about queerness is important, year round,” Lulamoon says. “Pride, to me, does a lot to reveal how much progress there still is to be made. We should celebrate each other and be proud to do so openly. But underscoring these things is that looming reality of how our world is widely hostile to queer people. So here’s to the fight. That’s Pride.”

See more of Willamette Week’s 2022 Pride Guide here!