Talented Pop Singer/Songwriter Allison Ponthier Returns With New Singles “Skin” And “Lie Detector,” And Readies New EP

Allison Ponthier
Allison Ponthier
(photo credit: Julian Buchan)

Over the past three years, Allison Ponthier has emerged as a unique, original singer/songwriter who combines pop, indie-folk and alt-rock for a fresh and appealing sound. She has signed with Interscope Records and released two impressive EPs: Faking My Own Death (in 2021) and Shaking Hands With Elvis (2022).

After taking some time off last year (2023), Ponthier has now returned with two excellent new songs: “Skin” and “Lie Detector.” “Skin” is a bright, uptempo pop song that has a hooky melody and quirky lyric story, and “Lie Detector” is a heartfelt, acoustic ballad. These two songs are a good indicator that Ponthier will have a successful, creative 2024, and she’s working on her next EP.

Ponthier is particularly known for her one-of-a-kind lyrics and unusual song titles. She regularly comes up with titles that catch the listener’s attention. Some of her best known titles are “Faking My Own Death,” “Hell Is A Crowded Room,” “Shaking Hands With Elvis” and “Hollywood Forever Cemetery.” And she writes imaginative, thoughtful lyrics that elaborate on these titles.

Here’s an excerpt of our interview with Allison Ponthier, who tells how she wrote her new single, “Skin.”


In addition, Ponthier is equally skilled at writing bright, colorful melodies, and she works with collaborators who help her create modern, innovative arrangements and production. Her musical style ranges from the more alternative, powerful sound of “Autopilot,” to her understated ballads such as “Lie Detector” and “Shaking Hands With Elvis.”

Ponthier grew up in the city of Allen, Texas, which is near Dallas. She began singing early on, but it wasn’t until she was at college that she started writing songs for herself as an artist. She had a breakthrough, when she wrote her song “Cowboy,” which was her coming-out story. Ponthier is open about being queer and a menber of the LGBTQ community.

Here’s the video of Allison Ponthier’s song, “Skin.”

In the following years, Ponthier signed with Interscope Records, and she moved to Brooklyn, New York. In 2021, she released her debut EP, Faking My Own Death, which contained “Cowboy” and other key songs such as “Hell Is A Crowded Room” and “Harshest Critic.”

Then in 2022, she released her EP, Shaking Hands With Elvis. This EP featured her dynamic song “Autopilot,” the quirky “Hollywood Forever Cemetery” (named after a cemetery where Hollywood actors are buried, and where concerts are held), and the ballad “Shaking Hands With Elvis,” where she recalls a close friend who passed away. Another highlight is the pretty ballad, “Chasing A Feeling.”

Along with releasing her EPs, Ponthier has teamed up with rock band Lord Huron, contributing vocals for their single, “I Lied.” She is also a live performer who has toured with Bleachers, MUNA and Hayley Kiyoko.

We are pleased to do this new Q&A interview with Allison Ponthier. She discusses her new songs “Skin” and “Lie Detector,” and how she wrote the songs for her earlier EPs.

DK: I read that you grew up in Texas. How did you get started with music and writing songs?

Allison Ponthier: I grew in Allen, Texas. I sang all the time…in church and for friends. I actually started writing songs a little later than what people would think. It was when I was 19 in college that I wrote my first song for me as an artist

DK: What was your first big break in the music business?

Pontier: The song that I’m most proud of as a songwriter, even to this day, is my song, “Cowboy.” It was the first song that I put out under my real name. It’s my coming-out song. It’s a song that sets up my entire project to introduce myself to the world, which is as a songwriter who loves classic songwriting, who loves storytelling, and wants to put a bit of myself out there for everyone to see.

Here’s the lyric video of Allison Ponthier’s song, “Lie Detector.”

DK: Was it after you put out “Cowboy,” that Interscope Records wanted to sign you?

Pontier: Actually, I signed with Interscope before I put out “Cowboy.” I wrote “Cowboy” years before I put it out. I had been writing with a lot of different writers, and I basically got the attention of Interscope through my songwriting.

DK: In 2021 you released your first EP, Faking My Own Death, which is a funny title. Can you talk about the making of this EP, and your favorite songs on it?

Pontier: Well first of all, thank you [for thinking the title is funny]. I feel like everything I do is infused with humor, but with dark humor. I like laughing at things that you’re not supposed to, like death or tragedy.

Faking My Own Death was my first record—I say record but it’s really my first EP. But I treat every EP like it’s a full-length record. “Faking My Own Death” was a song that I wrote with Ethan Gruska and Adam Melchor, who are amazing artists in their own right. After writing it, I knew that it was something special. I also love “Tornado Country,” which is about running from where you’re from. Honestly in a funny way, it’s about how you can take the girl out of Texas, but you can’t take the Texas out of the girl. I wrote that with (hit songwriter) Dan Wilson, which was one of the best writing experiences I’ve ever had.

DK: You’ve written some unique and creative song titles such as “Faking My Own Death,” “Hell Is A Crowded Room” and “Shaking Hands With Elvis.’ How do you come up with ideas for these songs?

Ponthier: I’m someone that’s obsessed with song titles, movie titles, and little phrases. I’ll get little phrases stuck in my head all the time, and I’ll just repeat them all day. I have a running list of many song titles. And when I go on walks, they just pop into my head.

I knew that I wanted to write a song called “Faking My Own Death” for a long time. And it wasn’t until I went through something that I felt like I could write about with that title.

Here’s the video of Allison Ponthier’s song, “Autopilot.”

“Hell Is A Crowded Room” was a completely different song, with totally different lyrics and a different melody, and I love that song title so much. I felt like I needed to give this song a second try, and the song that it became is the best version of that song, because it’s after me having dealt with anxiety for so many years. I had a better take on it, and I think I understood myself a lot better.

“Shaking Hands With Elvis”is probably the weirdest title. I was on Wikipedia and there was a list of euphemisms for death, and I was going through all of them. I was interested in all these random ways that we do everything except say the word dead or dying. And “Shaking Hands With Elvis” was one of them. I wrote it down randomly one day, not even thinking it would be for a song. Then I had a friend that had unfortunately passed away, and I didn’t know what to write about one day. At first I didn’t want to write about that, but I flipped through my journal and saw that title. And I knew I had to write that song, because my friend was a musician and I felt it was a beautiful way to remember them.

DK: In 2022, you put out your second EP, Shaking Hands With Elvis. Can you talk about making that EP?

Ponthier: With my first EP, the production was very classic singer/songwriter…it was mostly songs with me and my guitar. Whereas with the Shaking Hands With Elvis EP—“Late Bloomer” is more of a ‘70s rock song. “Hardcore,” which was produced by Ariel Rechtshaid, has guitar feedback and all of that cool ‘60s-‘70s experimental, textural sounds that he puts in. To me, Shaking Hands With Elvis has a lot more experimental songs sonically, and I think as a project, it has the things about myself that I struggle with. “AutoPilot” is about me not driving, “Hardcore” is about being too sensitive, and “Shaking Hands With Elvis” deals with loss. Honestly, the entire thing is like a critique of myself.

DK: One of my favorite songs on this EP is “Autopilot,” which has big chorus and great production. What inspired you to write this song?

Here’s the video of Allison Ponthier’s song, “Hollywood Forever

Ponthier: It’s funny, because I’ll have a lot of people come up to me and say, “Oh this song is complex, it’s about not fitting in, about not measuring up.” And to be honest, the song started as a song about me being terrified of driving. I’m 28 years old and I don’t have a license (laughs). I’m horrified of driving, and I knew that I had wanted to write a song about ir for a long time. But what’s funny after writing it, fans actually made it clear to me what the song is about, which is being different…not being able to process things exactly the same way as other people.

Musically, that song originally wasn’t like how it is on the record at all. It was supposed to be more of a sitting around a campfire with a guitar song. But it got bigger and bigger as we produced it, and I’m really glad that I got to experiment and make it what it is now, because it was my first try on how do I make a really thoughtful song that still has a lot of energy.

DK: I like your new single, “Skin.” Can you talk about writing this song?

Ponthier: I wrote “Skin” in a bizarre way. It’s similar to “Hollywood Forever Cemetery,” where I started the idea before I actually went to a studio to finish the idea. I was walking around, and I got the idea for that verse melody. Then I went to this incredible show where I saw a bunch of fans who love each other, and an amazing performer. And I felt so lucky to be there and so jealous at the same time. Then I walked into the bathroom at the venue, and wrote lyrics to what is now the first verse, and I made a little voice note on the way home. Three months later, I brought it in to a studio session, and I thought it would be a super sensitive ballad, and it turned into my serial killer pop song (laughs).

DK: I like your new song “Lie Detector,” which is a pretty, acoustic ballad. What’s the story behind this song?

Ponthier: “Lie Detector” is a song I wrote with Tommy English & Charlie Hickey; they’re incredible artists. I wrote it to be like a return to form. I started my career making country/folk singer/songwriter ballads, and it’s something that I always love and I’ll always do. I also wanted to write my own version of a wedding song…a gay wedding song. A song not just about being so in love with someone that you have no idea what to do. It’s really a song about being seen for the first time. And I think anyone can relate, whether you’re a queer person or not. But specifically for queer people, I feel like being seen for the first time is terrifying, and there’s this terrifying part you have to get through before it’s the best thing that ever happened to you. And for me, it was my partner that I’ve been with for almost seven years.

Here’s the video of Allison Ponthier’s song, “Cowboy.”

DK: You have mentioned being queer, and having the same partner for the past seven years. I know there are certain artists who are very outspoken about their sexual identity, and other artists who are more subtle. So how do you merge the sexual identity of your life, with being an artist and writing songs?

Ponthier: I used to think that songwriting was best when it was very vague, and anyone can relate. Now as an artist, I’ve realized that being specific about your life experiences is actually what helps people bond to you better. Sharing your individual story is how you build real connections and make real fans.

My first song, “Cowboy,” was my coming-out story, and I think you never stop coming out, no matter how long it’s been or how long people know you. It’s just a part of who I am and it’s made me able to be an artist, because you can’t just suppress one part of yourself…you accidentally suppress many parts of yourself. So coming out, being a queer person, is just who I am, and so my project is just who I am.

DK: You’ve recently released two singles. Are you working on a new EP or a full album?

Ponthier: Yes, I’m working on a new EP. I took a little break from releasing things, although I never stopped writing. I have an EP in the works, and I’m also working on other things as well. I have so much music to release now (laughs). The EP is coming around the corner. So it’s a lot of new songs soon.

Dale Kawashima is the Head of SongwriterUniverse and a music journalist. He’s also a music publishing exec who has represented the song catalogs of Michael Jackson, Prince, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and Motown Records.
Dale Kawashima