Gold Panda – Just to make it better

Foto: Sofie Fatouretchi
Last year’s __Lucky Shiner__ was one of the records, where the Beat-enthusiasts, the Caribou-listener and the electronic nerd come together sharing the headphones. Valentin Menedetter met Gold Panda for an interview and explains the basics.

Derwin Panda is a London native. Inhaling all types of sounds from an early age he soon got into Hip Hop, which led him to producing his own stuff. By the help of his uncle who handed him a sampler while he was a teenager he soon found the beauty of picking up samples and crafting them into something unique. His sound draws his inspiration from all kinds of sources and doesn’t cease to excite with its versatility and style. His live shows take you on a trip through all kinds of tempos and will blow you away eventually. Valentin Menedetter sat down with him and talked about his past.

What started your interest in the music world?
Gold Panda: I guess it was listening to what my mom and dad played from vinyl on Friday and Saturday nights. They’d just get some wine and play loads of records really loud. Some old Rock and Roll stuff, classical music – that was the main thing. Just hearing the crack of the vinyl was a nice comforting sound for me; quite nostalgic.

By what age did you get into buying records yourself?
Gold Panda: I think the first one I bought was a Soul 2 Soul record and I used to live in Peckham in south London. I told my dad that I wanted this record and he took me to Woolworths. But it only had chart stuff in there and I couldn’t find it so I went to this other shop, which was selling Reggae and whatever was around at the time. They had this Soul 2 Soul record in there. I think it was called Get A Life, it was a Dub version. I asked for that and a big guy with dreadlocks handed me the record, and that was the first one I bought. Then I got the Pavarotti »Best of« tape and a fake Michael Jackson tape.

Speaking of Acid Jazz, Talking Loud comes to mind when thinking about it. Did that play a role in your musical upbringing?
Gold Panda: I guess I kind of missed that because I got into Hip Hop and RnB and stuff. And that took over, I couldn’t really listen to anything else. Went through a rebellious stage. I moved from London to Chelmsford and Essex; when I went there, there was no culture, only middle class white people. And I was used to living in London, where my best friend was a Somalian refugee and stuff. It was just a vast mix; it was people from all around the world. And then moving to Essex – people were racist and close-minded. It’s not very far from London, like 40 minutes on the train. So I rebelled against the people I met there by listening to a lot of Gangster Rap I guess. That’s how it took over.

»I don’t really want to do the same thing. You just want to make your tracks better, I guess. That’s the main thing.«

Gold Panda
When was the first time that you got into making music?
Gold Panda: My uncle gave me a sampler – he was making music. He lent me an Akai sampler and an Atari computer and showed me how to do it. It was actually even before that, that my friend had an Acorn Electron and he started to make stuff on there and then we got Commodore Amigas and started to make sample stuff on there and make beats. My friend was into it way more than I was. I must have been around 14.

When you started making beats, did you also sample from records?
Gold Panda: Yeah that was the main way of doing it because I didn’t really have any drum machines or synthesizers or anything so I just had a sampler, which was just empty. So I went through my dad’s records and tried to make beats like Puff Daddy, really obvious stuff. Then as I got more and more into sampling different records I worked out how to sample things differently and how to make it not so obvious.

You quit your job after you put out your first records – so knowing now that you have to make a living of making music did that change the way you saw the things?
Gold Panda: Not really. What changed things, was when I had to make an album. I didn’t want it to be a collection of beats – I wanted it to be songs with beginning, middle and ending. I don’t really want to do the same thing. You just want to make your tracks better, I guess. That’s the main thing.

If you want to kick back, relax and listen to music that inspires you, what do you put on?
Gold Panda: I recently moved to Hamburg – that was in December so I haven’t been there long. I’ve done a lot of touring so I haven’t spent a lot of time there. I listen to everything, I’ve been listening to Kate Bush lately, the new Kanye West album, lots of electronic labels like 12k and Line. I always get asked this question and I never have a good answer. It’s just random stuff that I can think of.