The fiat of Gold Panda

Interview with Gold Panda

The fiat of Gold Panda

15-11-2013 | 11.06

He may not be the jolliest animal of the forest, nor the most courageous. His new record takes you on a wonderful trip around the globe to show you half of where he lives. Catch him live while you can, because Gold Panda seemed ready for more studio time and fewer gigs.

It’s kind of ironic to me that your label is called Notown, but your new record is all about towns and places.
‘Yeah. I was going to call the label something else, but then someone came up with Notown. Originally, it was actually called Notime,.’
Which is also very negating...
‘I guess so.’
And which seems to fit your character a bit.
‘Ok. I guess so, yeah. *laughs* I’m negative, really. I don’t know what the reason is. It’s chemical in the brain, maybe. But doing what you want to do in life makes you a lot happier. I just finished touring, so now I’m relaxed but there hasn’t been any time to make new stuff for a while. I’ve just been... touring.’
Talking about touring, what do you like about performing? Because you’re not really a party person and you’re basically too shy to look the audience in the face.
‘Well, it’s not all bad. Sometimes you have a really good gig and you feel really great afterwards. It’s worth doing just for those. And I can’t make a living from just releasing music, so I have to do something else. You get to travel the world, you get to meet people.’
What would be your imaginary best gig in the world, if you could set all the parameters yourself?
‘My best gig in the world? Not do one?’
Ahh, are you serious?
‘Well, if I really hated it, I wouldn’t do it. It’s just that when you have a bad gig, I think it affects you more than when you have a good gig. Because it affects you negatively, that’s why it’s tough. I don’t take it well.’
That doesn’t happen often, right?
‘Oh no, it happens all the time! *laughs* I did a tour in America recently, and I guess I hated about 25% of the shows. The good gigs really seem to be the ones in small venues, with a small crowd and a good sound system.’
So what you prefer to do is basically make tracks.
‘I do, yeah, I do. But it has been hard to find the time to do it. Which is not good.’
I heard you work very fast.
‘I do it as a hobby, so I just make stuff whenever I can, as much as possible. Sometimes it can be really quick. I think that’s good, because there’s a very natural kind of spontaneity about it. When nothing is planned, in a way it feels like it wasn’t even your track, when you listen it back.’
Do you reach some kind of hyper-focus state?
‘I have a really bad attention span, so I know that if I don’t finish it quickly, it won’t be finished... ever. Most of the music I make doesn’t get released. But I just do it because I enjoy it, I don’t make it for any other reason.’
Is there anyone that gets to listen to all the stuff?
‘No. Just me.’
So there’s a whole treasure of Gold Panda that’s never going to see the light of day!
‘Yeah... it’s not a treasure. It’s definitely not a treasure. It’s a trash heap. I feel like, now with music being so available online, people tend to release too much stuff. The quality control is quite low. So you’re just like: oh hey, here’s a free album I just made. Yeah, it’s free because it’s crap! I wanna be excited about what I release.’
You use a lot of samples. I imagine that you don’t track down the original artist to clear them?
‘Only for the last track of the new album. Because the sample is a vocal and it’s very clear. Actually they’d probably never’ve noticed unless we told them. But there’s a risk there and I don’t wanna have to spend all my money on some stupid piece because I didn’t ask before. But that’s the only one. For the others, no one’s gonna notice. I’m not taking a 10 second loop, I’m taking a 0,5 second of a sound. Sampling has a nostalgic side for me, it’s the way I learned.’

Text: Tessa Velthuis