Ponymeadow: roaming with the ponies


Dr Nikki Savvides decided to switch gears into electronic music after years in the field of Animal Studies. Photo: Sam Affridi.

Dr Nikki Savvides decided to switch gears into electronic music production under the name Ponymeadow after over a decade as a researcher and academic in the field of Animal Studies.

Sydney queer woman Nikki Savvides, AKA Ponymeadow, is an Australian electronic music producer who is known for creating dark yet uplifting progressive house and trance tunes that feature powerful female vocals, and who curates the Spotify playlist Women & Non-Binary in Electronic Dance Music.

She’s just released her new single Over the Edge through the record label A Tribute To Life.

But for most of her life her passion has been animals, leading to a PhD focused on the ethical potential of volunteer tourism after a decade of studying the relationships between people and animals.

“I’ve always felt passionate about animals and wanting to understand them. Growing up I didn’t know there would be some sort of academic field around that,” Savvides tells QNews.

“But by the time I started writing about horses for my Masters topic, Animal Studies started to become this new emerging field. I was in the right place at the right time when more attention was being put on relationships between humans and animals and around ethics and animal welfare.”

That research has taken Savvides around the world, conducting fieldwork with birds, monkeys and turtles in Indonesia and at a hospital for stray cows, donkeys and dogs in Udaipur, India.

However it’s the animals of Thailand that have a special place in her heart.

“My first experience with animals in Thailand was with street dogs in Bangkok in 2008,” Savvides says.

“I started to volunteer for an organisation that was concerned about the welfare of the dogs. At that time there were several hundred thousand stray dogs living on the streets.”

“That’s normalised in Thailand because the dogs are just everywhere. They’re not just in the cities but in the villages as well and I find that an interesting relationship.

“If a stray dog runs down the street in Sydney it’s not going to be stray for very long but in Thailand there are these communities of stray dogs that are accepted.

“People have their own ways of interacting with them. A lot of people do feed them and there’s the practice of merit making in Buddhism where by feeding dogs you are also doing something good for yourself in this life and the next.”

“But in any place there are going to be people who behave nicely to animals and others who don’t.

“Whenever I’m in Bangkok I still keep my eye out for the dogs.”

That led into Savvides spending years working closely with elephant sanctuaries and other elephant welfare projects in Thailand.

Most of that work centred on the relationships between elephants and their mahouts (traditional Indigenous elephant keepers) in northeast Thailand which resulted in a book, After the Forests: Thailand’s Captive Elephants and Their People, that was released in 2022.

“While I’ve now happily left the academic world my love of animals will always stay with me,” Savvides says.

“I’m glad to have written the book and I still get lots of lovely messages and emails from people from around the world so I know it’s still having an impact.”

“But my career is now slowly shifting towards producing music full time.”

Savvides was a member of several bands in Sydney including The Glimmer before moving to New York where she became part of what she describes as “an amazing queer feminist punk band” called Lady Bits.

But after returning to Sydney she felt the pull towards electronic music – a genre she had enjoyed for years without dabbling in it.

She completed a course in Ableton Live at Liveschool Sydney in 2020 and then spent the Covid lockdowns honing her skills before releasing her first single Need Your Love in February of 2022, following that up with two more tracks called Bad Dreams and Flame.

As Covid restrictions have eased, Savvides says she’s really loved the opportunity to play to live audiences again and had a huge August in 2023 DJing at Beyond Classic: Hypnotic Rave at Noun Bar in Green Square Library as well as Dykadellic’s third dance party at Kinselas.

Savvides has been mentored in her new chosen career by international DJ and music producer Dennis Sheperd and she joined him and other producers for the Soundcation Thailand music production boot camp in January in Bangkok.

He was also responsible for releasing her newest single through A Tribute to Life and recently released his own remix of the track.

“A Tribute to Life is a subsidiary of Black Hole Recordings which is a massive trance and progressive house label, so it’s great to have Over the Edge released by them,” Savvides says.

Savvides is next performing as Ponymeadow at DAYkadellic during the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras at the Botany View Hotel in Newtown on February 24 and says it’s something she’s really looking forward to.

The event is billed as “an afternoon event celebrating LGBTQIA+ women, gender-diverse folks, and their allies.”

“Even though they’re called ‘Dykadellic’ these events are very much for queer people of different sexualities and gender identities,” Savvides explains.

“Victoria Rose, also known as Torz, who runs it, had this great idea of an event that would be open to queer people, allies, non-binary and trans people, lesbians, and younger queer people who might still be finding their identities.”

“Most of the Dykadellic parties have been evening events but this one’s a day party and there are going to be nine DJs across the whole of the venue. Everything Torz has done so far has been packed out. It should be awesome.”

You can hear Ponymeadow’s music on Spotify, Bandcamp or Soundcloud

For the latest LGBTIQA+ Sister Girl and Brother Boy news, entertainment, community stories in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. Check out our latest magazines or find us on FacebookTwitterInstagram and YouTube.

Andrew M Potts

Andrew has been covering LGBTQIA+ issues for a range of publications in Australia over two decades and was the Asia-Pacific correspondent for global LGBTQIA+ news website Gay Star News.

QNews, Brisbane Gay, App, Gay App, LGBTI, LGBTI News, Gay Australia

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