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Saturday, June 1, 2024

Essential Pony Musicians 03: Tarby


In part 3 of this series, we check out the progressive and experimental rock paragon, Tarby!

Tarby is an artist who has been mostly forgotten over time. Most of his music no longer exists on his YouTube channel and Bandcamp. As a result, his name doesn’t really make the rounds anymore as some others do, but it should. I want to set the record straight in this spotlight.

His name comes from The Random Band, Tarby's pre-brony rock band. The Random Band became T.R.B.—hence “Tarby”, which he started using for solo projects. He's also known as Brony Jesus for his long, flowing hair.

 No clue who made this but he must've been having fun.

He would be drawn into making pony music through the Pony Music Compo, commonly known as Toastbeard. This was a weekly pony competition hosted by sci, in which musicians of all skill levels could submit songs based on a predetermined theme. This made Toastbeard an event that was instrumental in the pony fandom's creation-driven culture. In the second edition, Battle Themes, Tarby scored silver: We Are The End is an instrumental heavy metal song with rich melodies, symbolizing Rainbow Dash's fighting spirit.

The next edition would see Learning To Fly, followed by Only Time Will Tell (tying for first), Saturday Morning (Friday Night), and Taste The Rainbow. These are 7–10 minutes long, and gave him a reputation for writing dark, lengthy tracks.

Then in the seventh edition, Season* Wrap Up, Tarby would finally win decisively. His Ballad Of Autumn Dreams is a bittersweet love song about Applejack and Rainbow Dash in the last days of summer.


But he wouldn't rest on his laurels. When Derpy Grooves declared that he would make a 20-minute long track, Tarby had to defend his reputation. As per the usual deadline, Tarby only had a week to create a submission for edition 8, Reaction to the Unknown. But that was all the time he needed to create the thrilling progressive rock opera Something Broke: The Continuing Tale Of Pinkie Pie & Ponycide. Inspired by the infamous fanfiction Cupcakes, it acts as a prequel, narrating to the story of how the fanfic came about. Boasting a dozen sub-parts, it's hard to call it a single song: the style and atmosphere varies strongly between sections. It can go from quiet and unassuming to dark and deranged in just a few seconds. In particular, Hide The Body (Art Of Distress) is a macabre twist on two show songs: Art Of The Dress and Cupcakes. In case it's not obvious, this song is not for the faint-hearted, and the climax may especially twist your stomach. Nevertheless, Something Broke blew all the other entries out of the water.

More successes would follow. #09 Ponies & Alcohol saw his Saturday Morning 2 landing in second; in the S2E02-specific challenge, Chocolate Milk Of Glass got third (I cannot find a copy of this song); for #11 Best Pony he made fourth place with You And Me, Cheerilee. Additionally, in #18 Beginnings And Ends Freewave remixed We Are The End to create Pony Confessions, reaching second place. Silva Hound got a fourth place with his remix of You And Me, Cheerilee in #20 Background Ponies. I think you get the point.

He also participated in the Remix Wars, a remixing/style imitation competition hosted by Freewave on the My Little Remix forums. This led to the somber yet inspiring The Wings You've Earned, a cover of JackleApp's Toastbeard entry Scootaloo's Wings, as well as Kaos Rizing, performed in the style of Vafrous Coyote.

In late 2012 through early 2013, he would work on E.S.C.A.P.E. Explicit, tormented, and dystopian, the sound is typically Tarby. The pony influence in this album is difficult to spot due to its humanized lyrics and adult themes, but Born Cross-Eyed evokes the image of Derpy, and Taste The Rainbow is a remaster of the earlier Toastbeard track, written from the perspective of Rainbow Dash. Unfortunately, the album remained a demo and never got an official release.

Over the years of 2012–2016, Tarby visited numerous pony conventions. His earliest attendance was at Bronycon, and he would follow up with multiple appearances at BABSCon, Everfree Northwest (where in 2014 his guitar got stolen, unfortunately), and other conventions. He was also part of Musiquestria, a crowdfunded 2014 musical tour along the coasts of the U.S., which was supposed to lead to a documentary. The compilation album features his song Don't Say You Want Me. He performed both as an act of his own, as well as part of the Michelle Creber Band, where he supported the Apple Bloom VA's vocals with his guitar play.

His next serious musical project came out in 2015. Everfree is a concept album which explores feelings of despair and resentment, as if one were wandering through the titular forest. It's inspired by characters the likes of Luna (Nightmare Moon) and Trixie (What You Hoped To Find). As a recurring motif, it poses the question: "Is it really worth the torment?" When all is said and done, is revenge really as sweet as it seemed?

Tarby's work features a lot of stylistic continuity and callbacks, much more than I can do justice. Take for instance his next EP called The Origin Story, and how the first track, Hero, seamlessly flows forth from Everfree's opener The First Trees. Through this, even his post-pony music carries in it a kernel of his early work.

After 2016, he went touring and played music at "regular" locations. He released two more albums, both of the Fragment series. Part 1 is called Survivaminimalism which has songs that are more electronic than his other works, and Part 2, Seasonal Dreamers, is softer guitar work, and features some classics like Ballad of Autumn Dreams and You And Me (no mention of Cheerilee).

Tarby's pony career came full circle when he made his last performance playing Rejected at the final Bronycon in 2019. Since then, he hasn't been active, and it's unlikely that he will make some kind of grand return to the pony fandom. Forever Broken, the long-awaited bigger-and-better re-imagining of Something Broke is also sadly scrapped.


In the end, Tarby was one of the main driving forces of the early fandom. His lengthy tracks had a legendary status, he worked behind the scenes on projects such as JackleApp's Seasons EP and on songs for many others, and he had an impressive track record of convention performances. His keen eye for artistic quality gave rise to and ultimately undid much of his music.

Songs you should check out:

Nightmare Moon - Everfree's flagship track, Nightmare Moon, gives us a peek into Luna's state of mind the moment before she turns into her evil counterpart. Her feelings have welled up until she gives in to unabashed, sadistic resentment towards her tormentor. She's holding no punches, her anger is palpable and terrifyingly sincere. Yet even halfway through, we see that she's fundamentally driven by (and basically pleading for) a desire to be praised, recognized, and understood. One of the two verses sung in counterpoint admits to her crushing loneliness, the other demands to know from Celestia what she had done wrong. The result is that she comes across as much more vulnerable in the second chorus. The last line, "And they will fear me, Nightmare Moon" is sung without instrumental backing, and sounds like a desperate last cry for attention more than anything. Tarby managed to put emotion into music in a way that you rarely hear, and it's given me a new appreciation for Luna, too. FiM didn't go too deeply into the dark forest of Luna's psyche—it being a cartoon and all—but the fact that fans manage to extrapolate this from the narrative says something about Lauren Faust's knack for storytelling and the impact it's left on the audience.


The Night Will Last Forever - On Valentine's Day, between the releases of E.S.C.AP.E and Everfree, Tarby created this standalone song. It's best described as dark yet tender love song. Like with Nightmare Moon, he manages to perfectly evoke the conflicted feelings and emotions of the Princess of the Night. You could even consider it that song's inversion: a later point in time, when love saves her from her misery, brings her new purpose, and the ominous words "the night will last forever" obtain a more innocuous meaning.


You And Me, Cheerilee - Wrapping up with something relatively lighthearted. This is sung from the perspective of a stallion who meets (or writes) his former marefriend after a long time, and recounts how simple and happy their time together was. The drum is so simple and rhythmic, the synths so sweet and poppy, that you can listen to the song on repeat for hours without noticing it.

Apologies for the lengthy musing about Nightmare Moon. There is a lot to take away from Tarby's music, and that goes for all of his stuff. The fact that he looks back at Something Broke as amateurish and cringe breaks my heart. It might not be up to ever-refining quality standards, but as the product of hard work nonetheless, inspired by a show you love and applauded by your peers, it's just awesome, man. Rock on.

- DuxTape



  1. Always cool to hear about early music artists.

  2. I'd heard of Tarby but didn't know a lot about his work or history :) Thanks for putting this together!

    1. Glad you like it, and I hope you've found some new good music.