UK producer Gold Panda brings you this Spotify playlist to commemorate this month’s release of Half Of Where You Live, his follow-up to 2010’s much-loved Lucky Shiner. (Read our GEN F profile of him from that same year.) The new record sounds distinctly Gold Panda—world music samples retooled as electronica, hazy and nostalgic ambience, a keen sense for rhythm—yet bears sure signs of artistic progression. The music feels notably more influenced by European house and minimal techno, particularly on singles “We Work Nights” and “Brazil,” which are more sparse and refined than any previous releases to date. Stream his playlist below and read an interview with Gold Panda about the new album, being labelled as ‘chill’ and his plans to release new music sooner rather than later.
Have you noticed any new people being turned onto you after the Charli XCX song? It’s hard to tell. Someone asked me at a show if I’d played Charli XCX and I said, “Yeah, I sampled her” just as a joke, but I don’t think they got it. I’m not too bothered about that either way. It’d be great if other people find out about me, whether it’s through Charli XCX or any other way.
With this album it seems like you’re more honing in on your established sound as opposed to revamping it. Do you feel that’s something you’ve been doing consciously? I didn’t want to make the same record again, that was the main thing. I think I’m slightly more confident with this one. I’ve not put too many layers in. I’ve kept it more empty and there’s more space in it. I think that’s a confidence thing, where you worry about something not sounding full enough and you stick a layer of noise or a synth pad in. I wanted to avoid any sort of over-compressed, chillwave kind of music. I’m sick of getting referred to as “chill,” because I don’t think my music is that chill really. I think the word “chill” is annoying, especially for Brits. When it’s used as an adjective, like “dude, such chill music,” it really gets to me. So especially with the first track, I didn’t want to start out with something that was chill.
There’s a big geographic theme, are you trying to evoke a sense of place? Yeah, well all I’ve done is tour the last album, which is a pretty boring thing to write about, but I’ve been to all these amazing places that I don’t think I’d ever go to otherwise. Travel is so expensive. Just working at a day job, I could never do this much travelling. It’s kind of just about being in places where other people live and think, “What are people doing here? How do they exist here? What do they do for fun?”
You have a song “My Father in Hong Kong in 1961.” What he do there? He was stationed there for the British military, just drinking I think. I’ve got lots of pictures of him in black and white drinking over there. That track’s got a really good video for it made by a friend of mine named Ronnie, who was actually there. The title and the track aren’t that connected, apart from the Hong Kong thing, but I wanted to make a track that you’d hear on a really bad documentary about Asia or Southeast Asia. Like a travel documentary or one about the economy, where some guy is talking to the camera. It’s always some Westerner’s stereotypical view of what Asian and Oriental music would sound like with the bells and chimes. But those are also just tracks that I really like. I just wanted to make a track like that basically, and I did it really quick. I’ve never been to Hong Kong but it just sounded like how I would like it to sound.
You lived in Japan for a while, right? Yeah, I lived there for a year while I was teaching English. I took a working holiday. I think going there and experiencing Japan got me more interested in Eastern sounds and hunting for old records than before, it provided me with a lot of sampling material. I also think the Akira soundtrack got me as well. When I was 15 I was like, “Wow, this music is amazing.” You don’t really know what it is, but you buy the CD because it’s in the film. I think a lot of films can be like that.
What’s next for you? I think the mistake I made last time was that I toured for ages. It’s great for travelling and paying the rent but it’s not great for your health. I feel so unhealthy on tour. I try not to drink, I try to eat healthy things, I eat vegan food when I can, I find the best places to eat before I land rather than eating in an airport or at a service station, but it’s really hard. Flying must be so bad for you also. Now I just want to do another record. I feel like, having done the two, I can reinvent myself on the third. I’m not sure yet, but I’d like to get started on another album and push myself to do something I really feel proud of. I think the next one will be better, but I said that about this one. It’s weird because I think some people are gonna like this album better, which I’d never thought would be the case. I do.