Metronomy’s Joe Mount interviews Gold Panda.



Hello Derwin, I haven’t seen you for a while, so first off, how are you and what are doing at the moment?
I’ve been doing lots of touring – around the world – remixing and moving to another country [to Germany’s Hamburg]. And I’ve been trying to write new tunes but it’s hard to find the time, because every time you do a show you pack the studio up, take it somewhere, and when you come back you think, oh God, I’ve got to unpack it all again. But I’ve got the ‘Marriages’ remix EP coming out, and Ghostly are releasing an album of all the old stuff, which actually came out in Japan a couple of years back, but they’re re-releasing it digitally, with ‘Quitter’s Raga’ and ‘Back Home’ on it. And hopefully I’ll have two more EPs of new stuff out this year.

As far as I know, your extended family are very encouraging when it comes to music. Some even say your uncle invented UK garage. Are your close family musical?
My uncle used to work for [UK garage label] Locked On, yeah, but no, my family aren’t musical. My mum plays piano, but it’s just me, although I cheat at music. They do like my tunes though. Even my uncle who likes jazz likes my tunes. Well, he actually likes Steely Dan the most, so that’s respectable.

My parents aren’t musical either, but they are very encouraging of my interest in music. I sometimes feel a bit upset that I don’t really have any other real ‘specialist’ knowledge, though. You, however, do – Japan and Japanese culture. Do you find that with two real passions you don’t have the time to develop either of them in a way or to an extent that you would like to?
Well, my parents are so encouraging of my music because I couldn’t find anything else that made me happy, like, within having a career and being successful at something. Japanese does make me happy, but learning it, rather than doing it in a job. So while I do have a specialist Mastermind subject, I’m not able to use it to the best of my abilities, because it’s very specific. BUT if I combine the two I end up doing quite well because I’m able to go to Japan and work with Japanese artists, which I guess not many people have a chance to do. But yeah, the two passions do clash. Like, I’m really rusty on my Japanese now because I’ve fallen out of that way of naturally using it. Music is taking over, but because Gold Panda is going so well I really need to push myself to do that, and I can come back to Japanese.

If ‘music’ were a horse race this year, who would you have a little punt on?
I’d have a little punt on Actress still doing well. I reckon he’s going to get more and more respected in an underground way, like these people who still get paid a ridiculous amount to DJ off of four decks, like Jeff Mills. Yeah, Actress has got a lot of life in him.

…and who would you likely put down and shoot because they are fucking lame?
Who’s that British Lady Gaga who’s just come out? Jessie J! Yeah, shoot her in the face! Or shoot her somewhere that doesn’t kill her so you have to shoot her again. See, I’m being a bit mean here, because I don’t know her, and I’ve never heard her music, but as soon as I saw her being marketed as the British Lady Gaga…

I get the impression that we both grew up listening to a lot of the same acts. I would imagine you listened to stuff on Planet Mu and Skam, perhaps you loved the first Manitoba record like I did, perhaps you went through a phase of being in complete awe of Aphex Twin… like I did… I might be wrong. Anyway, look at us now! What happened? From one seed grew two quite different trees.
Yeah, I was into those acts, but I also had a hip hop phase before that, which, I think, is why our music is quite different… and I’m not a fucking genius. Also, you’ve come from an angle where you’re interested in vocals, I think, and vocals are a big thing in a track.

A HYPOTHETICAL QUESTION. Some crazed politician decides that 100% of all music played on UK radio stations MUST be from UK artists. How do you think a days listening would go down with you?
I mean, that would make us all xenophobes and social hermits, but would it mean that we’d have some amazing pop stars who would otherwise be overlooked? Or would it make things worse as we scramble around for the musical dregs of the country? The whole idea is very dangerous, because we’d just have our own versions of Kanye and Arcade Fire and Pendulum and Foo Fighters, and that would be terrible, but in terms of the radio only playing British music at the moment… yeah… that’d be ok. I don’t think I’d notice for a while. You’d get Tinie Tempah, Sugababes, Spice Girls. After a few days you’d think, hang on, where’s Rhianna singing about umbrellas? So yeah, I’d be alright with it, but I don’t think it would be a good idea in the long run.

Finally, a question I have always wanted to be asked. You have travelled the world, eaten all kinds of wonderful local delicacies; you have played in front of adoring crowds and met some of your biggest heroes. You have realised your dreams. But, have you ever used your position as Gold Panda to snog a girl?
No. And there are a couple of reasons for this, other than having a girlfriend now. The main reason is because me and Gold Panda are different, and although the girl might like to snog Gold Panda, I don’t think she’d like to snog Derwin. And, if you’re talking about at shows, and these people are your fans, you don’t really want to go around the world banging them all and pissing them off.

Originally published in issue 26 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. March 2011

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