Bleep Interviews Gold Panda
Bleep: Congratulations on your new album, we here at Bleep love it!
Gold Panda: That is so weird, I don’t know how people can think it is so good, I don’t know what to say, it is like a big fluke.
B: How long have you been making music? And how did the Gold Panda project come about?
GP: I started making music when I was about 15 or 16, my uncle lent me a sampler and an Atari, and I was making these stupid little tracks, and sampling my Dad’s record collection, and at first I just sampled the most obvious things and tried do a Puff Daddy Hip Hop beat. Then a friend and I, we were making films at school, just as a hobby and showing it to the classmates and doing little comedy sketches and stuff, and we would make soundtracks for that, and then I just got more and more in to it. As friends kind of left and went to Uni and I stayed back- I didn’t go to Uni, I got a job, and just got more and more in to making tracks I guess, and shutting myself away in to my room.
It was always a bit of a joke. Then a friend of mine who was making techno who was in a group called Subhead who are on Tresor, he passed away suddenly, and he always telling me that I should do music, I was like ‘no it is just a hobby’ and I didn’t really have the confidence to do it, but when he passed away I though ‘shit, maybe I should give it a go’ and it turned out alright, so I think I have been doing Gold Panda for about two years now, maybe three and then two actually releasing stuff, and actually doing shows and trying to make it work.
B: How do you feel releasing this debut out in to the world? Are you happy with it?
GP: I think it is like a little snap shot of how I was feeling at the time when I made the album, I guess it is quite personal and there is stuff about people in there and relationships and family, I don’t know how I have managed that without lyrics. But I guess it was the way I was feeling at the time and that’s why the tracks have the title that they do, I guess I could name the tracks something completely different and maybe to a lot of people it would mean totally different things, I am not sure how far you can push things with just instrumental music.
B: You have had a really good reception to your work in Japan and you have been touring there, why do you think this is the case, and how has the country and the culture effected your aesthetic?
GP: I got really interested in Japan, when I was fifteen or something after seeing Akira, which I suppose lots of people were influenced by. Then I got more and more in to it and started watching loads of Japanese films and started buying the really expensive imported computer games, and decided that I should probably learn the language at some point.
I don’t know what it is, it is something that I feel there…
Tokyo is a really lonely place and I kind of thrive on that a bit when I am there, and the feeling of being totally out of place as well. I am influenced by the way Japan looks, by the way the roofs of the houses look in the rain, and how these big apartment buildings are really repetitive… I am quite visual when I make music, so I can see these all things as repetition, and then there will be one thing out of place. I like that to be in a song as well, where there is loads of repetition and then there is one bit that comes in that never happens again through out the whole track, and you have to go back to listen to that bit. As for being received in Japan, I am not sure how that has happened, maybe it’s that it is instrumental and there is an Asian influence to it, there is something people can have something in common with, I am not really sure…
B: With your work, there are quite a lot of organic elements, which is what you were talking about – these moments in which don’t occur again, are you doing field recording or live recording? How are you going about getting these sounds?
GP: I do some field recording….the problem the way I record is- the tracks that work well, are the ones that aren’t planned, when I sit down and I think ‘right I am going to make a track and it is going to sound like this’, they never work. But when I just come home late and switch the sampler on and make a cup of tea and just muck around, those are the tracks that work, and then they are finished, and I listen back to them and think ‘shit I could have recorded that so much better if I wasn’t mucking around’, but I don’t see any other way to do it, it is just kind of a thing that happens, like almost magic….
The recordings are a lot from vinyl, pretty much most of it is from old records chopped up and the sounds are pitched up and down and put in to a melody. Because I don’t know how to play any instruments, so it is just based on what note or what pitch I think that the sound should be next, I am playing through these sequences endlessly to make a melody. The tracks are not really arranged in a very professional way, I will make a load of sequences on a drum machine and when it comes to record the track as one piece, I will just press play and I’ll go through the sequences in an order that I think is right while it is playing. Sometimes you hit the wrong sequence next in line, but when you go back to it, it sounds quite good, so I think the organic thing comes from not bothering too much and just doing it for fun and it works and turns in to a track.
A lot of the time the track, actually most tracks, I think it doesn’t sound finished, but maybe it is, and maybe it is time to just let it go, I think you could just go on forever now with technology, endlessly changing stuff and you’ll never get a track done, and I think that maybe when something sounds slightly unfinished there is something nice about it.
B: Can we see a photo of your studio set-up?
B: How do you translate your recorded stuff in to doing it live?
GP: Well, I’ve got a laptop and a drum machine which has all the sequences in, and I can record loops on it while it is playing and then I skip to whatever loop I think should be next. I have got a loop pedal where I can grab tiny bits and build them up and take them apart, it is pretty simple and not very professional, but people seem to like it.
…But for laptops, personally, I think that people are using them so much now that and I wanted to get away from it…. I started not using a laptop but I was kind of restricting myself by doing so, and I would like to go back to not using a laptop, but it is going to take time to programme everything and put all the samples in to samplers or whatever, but where as a laptop is just there and just you just turn it on so.. it is really easy.
I think the main reason why I don’t want to use a laptop is that I don’t want to be bored, and I want more stuff to do. I think having gear where your not looking at a screen, you start to get in to the tracks a bit more. I am in two minds at the moment, like I would really love to do a really club friendly set where I can just make people dance for an hour, but I don’t know how to do that at the moment. Because I have never been a person that goes out much, so I don’t really go to clubs or see bands live…. it is not really my scene, so I don’t really get the live thing to go with music, I am more in to just sitting at home and listening to CDs on my own, so I am a bit confused when it comes to live.
B: You used to work at a record shop, how did that effect the music that you were listening to and creating at the time?
GP: It just made me hate music, and want to do music that wasn’t anything to do with music, it just made me want to do noise, it made me want to rebel against all music and read books.
B: Is there any music that you are interested in at the moment, that you get inspired by?
GP: I like all the Raster Noton stuff still and that 12k label… I am pretty pissed off with that stuff that is that out of time Hip Hop rubbish, a bunch of fake Flying Lotus stuff. It is just fucking annoying, I just don’t get it, I just think it sounds really forced and fake. I really like Rustie’s new EP, I think that he has got something really special about the way he puts tracks together and his melodies. I think a lot people who are doing that stuff are always worried about making the most heaviest most banging track, and that the bass has to be the most ridiculous bass you have ever heard and has got to have this ‘crazy’ beat. But I think that Rustie has got this really good chilled sound, and there is a lot of melody and a lot of thought that has gone it to it, rather than try to be like the heaviest thing you have heard ever. I think he has nailed the whole sound. I think it is what a lot of people are trying to do but he has summed it up in on EP.
People keep on asking me ‘are you influenced by the LA beats scene’ but I don’t even know what that is, I guess that is Nosaj Thing and Flying Lotus, but I don’t know, I have heard that Nosaj Thing album and it is quite good, and I like Flying Lotus 1983 – I have got LA, but I haven’t listened to it. I am getting more and more in to the stripped down techno stuff, I think it is more like rather than enjoying tunes or songs or whatever, it is more about the production and the quality of stuff and thinking about how did they do that, rather than enjoying the music, but I mean I enjoy it as well, but I mean it is technically inspiring.
B: What is next on the Gold Panda horizon?
GP: Well it is now endless touring till the end of November -Japan, America, Brazil, Europe then England… then I think I am free. Hopefully I can do another video and start another album, I don’t want to leave it too long. I have been quite aware of people who have disappeared for a while and then come back with album that has fizzled out. I want to strike while the iron is hot really, and not really wait around too much. I don’t want to dwell on stuff too much, and I don’t want to keep releasing at the same thing. My mind is a year ahead of everyone else, because your just hearing the album now and I am ready for the next one.
Gold Panda’s debut album Lucky Shiner is available now on Bleep.
This entry was posted on Thursday, October 7th, 2010 at 13:16 and is filed under Interviews, Music News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.