Earlier at Liverpool Street train station, as we were jabbing the touch screen of a ticket machine, Derwin had said that ‘Lucky Shiner’ hadn’t turned out how he’d planned it to. “It’s ok,” he said “but it’s not what I wanted.”
“Last time we spoke it was really early on,” he remembers. (Our previous Gold Panda interview was in July of last year). “I knew at that time that I wanted to make an album, and that I didn’t just want to put these tracks on it that were out already. And I had a very clear idea of what I wanted but it did turn out differently, although I think the whole journey from the first idea of an album to the end is quite long. I don’t think I realised that at the time.
“It’s more pop and less weird than what I set out to do. I wanted to make a techno album with these long drawn out tracks that built on that ‘Back Home’ track I did, and were more minimal and repetitive but it didn’t work out like that. I just don’t think that I’m ready to do that yet, and it would have been a bit weird for people who were into what was coming out. ‘Quitter’s Raga’ went so well and ‘You’ came out and was so different. I think that if I’d done that it would have thrown a lot of people off, but maybe it would have gotten better reviews in a credible way, but it wouldn’t have been so well received because it’s more accessible now.”
Grazia accessible! And DJ accessible and MOJO accessible and Pitchfork accessible and so on. But ‘Lucky Shiner’ is hardly an obvious crossover hit like, say, Mumford & Sons are, or The xx even. It’s completely instrumental for a start, and features tracks like ‘Parents’, which is made up of a finger-tickled, wispy acoustic guitar, a faint field recording of Derwin helping his grandma in the garden and nothing else. For the regular readers of ‘What’s Hot & What’s Not’ that’s still pretty weird, although Derwin says that he’s unable to judge anymore. “Within the electronic music that I listen to at the moment it’s quite cheesy and poppy,” he says. “That’s how I see it. But then for MOJO magazine I guess it’s quite weird.” Either way, all of the album’s reviews have so far been positive.
“Yeah, I’ve not had any bad ones yet,” he confirms “but I’m sure there will be, and that’s fine. I mean, if The Wire review it they’ll hate it, but that’s good because it means I can probably sell some records, because they slated the last Fuck Buttons and Four Tet albums, which I really liked. They said that Fuck Buttons was sell out pop rubbish, watered down for the mainstream, and that’s just ridiculous, but they give Album of The Month to some guy playing drums underwater in his dad’s bath or something.”
Surprisingly, considering how he’s a man not too good at taking compliments, Derwin seems at ease with all of this positive attention coming his way, or perhaps that’s ‘Lucky Shiner’’s ways, and perhaps that’s the point. As he said on the train, it’s not as if he’s in magazines being papped as a celebrity yet. But that could happen. The album’s acclaim could quickly have the 3am Girls squawking after the man who made it, and Gold Panda has always found the ‘pop star’ bit of being a musician an unsettling evil.
“It’s not getting any easier,” he says “it’s getting harder! I find it very awkward when people say weird stuff like ‘I love you’ and ‘you’re a genius’ and ‘I’m obsessed with you’, like at a show or something. Having admirers is very difficult for a person who doesn’t like going out and seeing people. Like, I’ve got so many people I’m meant to go for a drink with, and the main reason is because I’m so busy I’m never in the country, which is probably a really good excuse instead of saying, ‘I don’t fancy it’ or, ‘I’m not well’ or, ‘I’m washing my hair that’s falling out’, but it’s very difficult to try to change into this person that’s now networking, because you do have to keep in touch with people, like people who’ve done remixes for you or whatever. It’s nice to appreciate people and make them feel appreciated.”
As far as he knows, Derwin has been recognised in the street just the once – an experience he dealt with by running away. And two things particularly baffle him about fame – where the hell he fits in on the scale of recognisable faces, and why would anyone give a shit if they saw Gold Panda stumbling out of Somerfield with loads of bread? Or anywhere, doing anything, for that matter? But the fact is that that young fan who shouted, “It’s Gold Panda!” at him, was, soon after Derwin legged it, most likely in the pub boasting, “You’ll never guess who I’ve just seen!?”
“See, that makes no sense to me,” says Derwin. “I can’t understand if I’m big or not big, or where I fit in to being recognisable or not. It’s not like I’m instantly recognisable like Lady Gaga or something. I’m quite generic. It’s not like I’m Bill Bailey!” he says, giving us a glimpse into his skewed and witty psyche where the biggest pop performer on the planet is just one notch above an ex-music quiz panel host in terms of notability. “Because it’s never like, ‘is that Bill Bailey?’” he reasons “it’s always, ‘that’s definitely Bill Bailey!’”