Have you been to Japan? Do you feel at home in Japan? These are questions London-based, but immensely Japan-inspired, Gold Panda can deliver a resounding yes, yes, yes to.
Recently Gold Panda, real name Derwin Schlecker, has triumphantly released his third album, "Good Luck and Do Your Best" via City Slang. It's a warm return to the nostalgic and lively style he established in his debut album "Lucky Shiner." It's also a homely work that embodies Derwin's sweetly intimate and deep connection to the land of the rising sun.
You won't need your passport when you let Gold Panda take you away on "Good Luck and Do Your Best." All you will really need is to let Gold Panda do the guiding. It's an album that is diversely suited for a daily commute or when you are hard at work. As a whole, it exudes a wonderfully peaceful and pensive air that encourages the mind to wander to places of positivity.
What does the golden creature himself have to say about the album? Lucky for you, here is my interview with Gold Panda, and we really get down to it.
On your latest album - did you have much luck? Did you do your best?
Uh, no haha. Did I have luck? I guess there is an element to luck if you're making music. If you're doing your hobby as a job, there's an element of luck there. Unfortunately it's not based on being good. Did I do my best? It's never good enough. I guess I did but I'm not happy with the result.
That is the struggle. On Good Luck and Do Your Best, how do you feel about the album? What were a few of the standout tracks?
I like the track called “Halyards” the most and probably “Pink and Green.” The past albums, I've made them really quickly, in an effort to capture a certain kind of feeling or sound but this one, I made it over the course of two years. I wasn't rushed and I had more time to select the tracks that went together. I don't cringe when I listen to this one compared to the last ones.
This album is heavily inspired by Japan. What is it about Japan that inspires you so much?
It's my place to escape to. I always am trying to figure out, how can I live in Japan, how can I be here longer? I guess I was searching for something and didn't really know what to do with my life and ended up studying Japanese language and going for jobs in the city to do with Japanese. I thought I could somehow end up living in Japan that way, and then music happened and realized that I really didn't want to do those jobs because they sucked. Now I'm able to go to Japan anyway because of music. The first time I went there was in 1999 and now my friends have all had kids. I'm still friends with the guys I became friends with on the first trip, so it's an ongoing source of inspiration.
It says it's "heavily Japanese; Japan inspired," but I think it's more homely. It's more of a homely album. It was made in my grandmother's spare room when I was living with her and it is inspired by Japan but it's more of an abstract. Maybe it captures an atmosphere that you get when you're in Tokyo or Osaka or one of the big cities.
Where does this album sit in regards to the entire Gold Panda catalog?
It's closer to a certain type of album that I tried to make in “Lucky Shiner.” I've done three albums and they've all been eleven tracks with a song structure to each of them. At first, I was trying to find out how to make an album. Second, to make it more upbeat. And third, on this one, try and cement my ideas more and make better choices with samples and be confident in how I make my music, which is just on an old MPC 2000xl Akai, an old sampler. Concentrate on my sound and be a bit more positive, or accepting of the music I make. Now I've got these three albums that have a similar sound and theme, and I feel that I've reached an end point for those albums, so maybe the next thing is going to be a bit more of a transition, more of an exploration of some different themes and ideas.
You can think and romanticize how you want an album to be in your head, but until you've actually made it, it's slightly out of your control. It will reveal itself to you over the course of making tracks. You have to relinquish some control to whatever your subconscious is doing.
What do you hope to achieve with an album such as, “Good Luck and Do Your Best?”
With electronic music, if you do something dark and experimental and serious, it's seen as credible and doing positive, happy, melodic stuff is seen as being a bit stupid. But I think it's just to motivate people a bit. It's okay to be optimistic, which I'm really not because I've struggled with depression for a long time. It's only now that I've come to accept and I just have to feel shit for a week or a month or however long it's gonna last, but I know that my feelings will change. Hopefully it's just to reassure people that there's light at the end of the tunnel. And that you're in a tunnel with a train.