I would just like to start off by saying that I am rubbish at life. I hung out with Panda over 6 weeks ago and I am only posting now. Truth is? I lost my notes. Yes I know…I’m a winner. Anyway, onwards!
When asking Derwin aka GOLD PANDA where his panda ears were, he replied, ‘I’m 30 years old now, I can’t wear a panda hat anymore’. Are you ever too old to wear a panda hat? I don’t think so. Asking him where the name came from he said he just picked a colour and then he picked an animal and that’s about it really. I get the distinct impression from Panda, that he dislikes a lot of fuss and gets irritated when things are over complicated.
See, I’m not a big electronic music fan…to me, it kinda sounds like someone is sending a text with the sound on…almost like a series of noises, beeps and blips just for the sake of throwing them in, sometimes I think if you closed your eyes you swear someone was tryna clock an old Atari game. What can I say? I like my music to have a bit of warmth, and Panda’s series of electronic sounds definitely have more of a melody running through it. It’s clean and strong, and certainly had me going.
Derwin, like most, started in his bedroom in Essex when he was 15. I think when he is on stage he mentally takes himself back to those days as if he is performing to no one. It was a filthy hot evening in Western Australia, yet he did his entire set wearing a hat and a hoodie. ‘I don’t really know what I’m supposed to be doing up there’ he says. Ha ha, I think if he could just stand behind a wall and not be seen it would be like all his Christmas’s had come at once. This isn’t actually such a dumb idea you know, I saw
Magnetic Man at Glastonbury last year and their performance was nothing but a light show and they stood behind a huge, lit up, white wall. So maybe a light show Derwin? Or perhaps dress in full panda costumes? I dunno what his problem is though, he looks fine up there. No one is expecting electronic dj’s to incubate in an egg and shoot out in their bra and knickers Gaga style now are they?
This led me to ask what took him from his bedroom to the stage if performing was not his favorite part of the job, ‘I dunno. I just did it. People starting liking it so I started doing it more often’. Like I said before the man doesn’t like to over complicate things. Of course I like the music and we had good chats about London, hip hop (he told me at the time that he would be collaborating with a certain New Orleans rapper but wouldn’t tell me who, I have now discovered that it is Curren$y). We spoke of grime and dub step, ‘Dub step is over in London’ says Panda, ‘There is a whole new fresh sound and nobody really knows what to call it’ We spoke about the distinct sound of London, how the area in which these grime MC’s live in dramatically affect their sound. I groaned about that bloody Dizzee Rascal track that he did with Calvin Harris – Panda loves it. His reason? That because of people like Dizzee getting rich and famous and making pop, 12 year old girls in Oxford are now listening to him. This is huge! The genre has grown and is reaching out to people beyond the obvious.
Me: ‘What is the best result you could ask for?’
Panda: ‘I dunno, making music people wanna wank to probably’
Me: ‘or cry to..’
Panda: ‘Yes. crying and wanking.’
Panda: ‘Yeah man. I make cranking music!’
Panda is possibly one of the nicest, most humble people I have met in a long time. I mean, me and Beck (my room mate/photographer) had him climbing a ladder for a photo shoot, made shoulder pads out of flat bread and got him to tell us stories of when he travelled America (a man asked if he could lick his foot apparently) he humbly obeyed us, even though he really wanted to watch OneMan who was playing next door. He was polite and easy to talk to. We got onto the subject of social networks. ‘I hate it’, he says, ‘Why can’t people just leave each other alone?’ And leave people alone he does, what with him following only one person on twitter (his German girlfriend whom he now lives with in Hamburg) which is a stark contrast to the 4500 people that follow him. This may be mistaken for arrogance, but it’s more innocent than that. It seems as if he realises that it is a necessary evil but he fights the urge to let it become more than just a tool to have his music heard. ‘People use facebook to fuck people on the other side of the world’ – HA HA! Yes. ehrm.
I gotta say, I like Panda. A lot. I spoke to him a few days back shortly after I had encountered a diabolical performance by my favorite musician M.I.A. I was having a go at how rubbish she was and how disappointing it is. ‘Give her another go’, he said. OK Panda, only ’cause you said so.