Dollars to Pounds: Gold Panda

June 08, 2009

He's an Olympic-level misanthrope whose distaste for the modern world is luridly rendered in rants across the internet, but despite his curmudgeonly ways (wait until you read his thoughts on Bear Grylls) Gold Panda makes some of the loveliest, techno-cloaked glitch-pop this side of the future. After a parade of remixes for Bands We Like (Marina & The Diamonds, Your Twenties, Little Boots) he’s concentrating on his own music, like the cyborg love letter "Mayuri," an exclusive track taken from his debut EP. We spoke about Japan and monkeys and video games and he made me laugh a lot.

Download: Gold Panda, "Mayuri"

Various Production are releasing your debut EP, how did you hook up with them?

A web dude called Brilliantly Different sorts both of our websites and I think some tracks got around and they really liked it. They are starting to release records by other artists in a nice orange Various sleeve. Various picked some tracks they liked and that was that.

You made this EP in Chelmsford after returning from a year in Japan. What were you doing out there?

I've been obsessed with Japan since I saw Akira when I was 15 or something. I think it may have been my 5th time there. I stayed in a place called Saginuma in Miyamae-ku (and that is why the EP is called Miyamae). It’s in Kawasaki, really industrial. I lived four floors up in a block of flats overlooking a huge main artery into central Tokyo. It was dirty, noisy.... techno. I was renting a room in my friend’s flat, she is a techno DJ and producer. I was supposed to be traveling and teaching English to supplement that. Teaching English is one of the shittiest things I have ever done. It is quite lucrative, but I found it boring as hell. I was teaching one guy with hilarious nose hair. It was really hard to get him to talk because he didn't care about much except films so I printed the Back to the Future script and we read through that whenever he wasn't busy sweating. Shit, I've actually made it sound good.

You use video game sounds on your EP, did you play a lot of games out there?

I didn't play that much. I probably went to the local arcade about twice a week. I love Street Fighter. They love 2D fighting games there. Blazblue is good. Guilty Gear XX. Melty Blood. The arcades aren't so crazy, you get seats and drink rests and can smoke. Pachinko parlours are pretty crazy but you can only play... err Pachinko. As for sounds, I like older machines. I liked how the Megadrive sound quality was a bit more shit (better) than the SNES. I miss my Amiga. I have three Dreamcasts.

Tell us about Mayuri.

Mayuri is my friend and she is amazing. She has been like an older sister to me when I've been in Japan. She is a brilliant DJ, the one who got me into minimal techno lately. She runs this amazing festival in Japan called Metamorphose. I don't think I realized how much of an influence she was until her ex (my friend) passed away. I made the track on headphones while she was making a mix in the same room. She hasn't even heard the track. I hope she likes it.

The other day I watched a clip of a Japanese TV show in which a monkey repeatedly slaps a woman round the face. The monkey hits her really hard. Japanese TV is basically the future of British/western TV and I'm sure we'll have our own version of this show in about 3 years. Who would you like to see the monkey slapping?

I'm not sure we could ever have anything so brilliant on our TV screens. There was this one show where a karate expert threw hot chicks in bikinis onto a crash mat. Another where a panel had to guess the size of a model's bust. I like Japanese TV, I like chicks in bikinis jumping kind of shit. I'd like to see a monkey slap that Bare Grill (or whatever his fucking name is) [Ed. Bear Grylls] idiot. I'd like to see a monkey slap him off a fucking cliff.

Why did you stop blogging at

I was wasting enough time on the internet already, plus I rant loads and I was bound to offend someone. I think people find it hard to tell if I am being serious or not, actually I guess I like that kind of ambiguity. I was blogging with no real purpose, I'd rather people just listen to my music if they want to. I should quit Twitter too.

Musically, what are you working on?

I have too many ideas so I move from one thing to another pretty quick. I'm trying to learn some new software before I really commit to anything new. I was kind of against the laptop before but now I'm trying to embrace it. I have a lot of bits here and there but nothing finished. I'm doing more remixing. It'll be different from the EP.

You've started playing live, how’s that been?

Electronic music does exist. It is electronic, it may have been made on a laptop. When it is live the artist may bring his laptop, you know, the instrument he made the fucking music on. I mean, when a band plays live no one ever says "hey it sounds exactly like the album! what a rip off, they're just playing the songs they wrote and rehearsed for the last six months!". I'd like to play live more, I've only done two gigs so there is lots of room for improvement and improvisation. I'd like to improvise more and do visuals. I think my live set is pretty different from my recorded music. I'd like to play gigs with likeminded people... and friends.

What kind of stuff do you listen to?

There is this album by a guy called Stag Hare "Black Medicine Music." It is really great. At the moment I've been listening to alot of stuff on the Raster-Noton label. 12k, Type and Touch. Lots of traditional music from Japan, China and the Middle East. I bought a good record by Hair Police recently. I love the Fuck Buttons album. New Nathan Fake album is great. I like a band called Pens. This guy in San Diego called Tenshun. Influences at the moment are Tea, a borrowed Line 6 DL4 pedal, the Richard Scarry character Lowly Worm and my Nintendo DS even though I broke it in half on purpose.

You mentioned Twitter earlier. Your feed is very funny you seem pretty despairing of modern life. What winds you up at the moment?

Sorry I can't answer this question at home, what I have to do is go to a "Gallery/Art Space" in East London that also sells coffee and has Wi-fi, then I'll upload a photo (of myself at a wine bar from the previous night dressed like an entire Topshop posing from below the camera so it makes me look thin and hides my fat cheeks) onto a popular social networking site and then you can ask me this question in the comments box so everyone can see that we are mates but I don't reply and then I see you on the bus on the way home from a Vice magazine photo shoot near London Fields and we talk about this really loudly mentioning all the people we know and you say the words "Epic Fail" which I think is the most awesomest thing I have ever heard even though I have no idea what the hell you are talking about and can't wait to see you next week at a coke party sponsored by Diesel.

Gold Panda’s Miyamae EP is out soon on Various Production. A 7-inch will follow on Make Mine in August. If you’re in London see him live tomorrow at Huw Stephen’s night at The Social or on Friday night at Laser Club at The Legion.

Scott Wright

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Dollars to Pounds: Gold Panda