Regardless of what people say, electronic dance music is a still a burgeoning scene and world, with artists yearning to be discovered, listened to, and talked about. One of the scene's most impressive duos of the past couple years has been dubbed The White Panda. Two gentlemen adorn their faces with elaborately designed panda masks, and then proceed to bring mayhem to any room that they take the stage in. A full set of unique, recognizable remixes, in addition to the enviable amount of energy they're able to bring to the stage, makes their show one that you won't forget.
The duo will be taking the stage at The Regency Ballroom in San Francisco this Sunday, just two days after Christmas. I recently spoke with one of the members about their live show, the key to creating a memorable remix, and much more.
Great to speak with you. I actually got to see you guys back when I was in college at Santa Clara University. Had a lot fun watching you both perform. When you guys are constructing mixes for a live show, what do you usually tend to gravitate towards in terms of track selection?
The two top factors are energy and recognizability. I want the audience to be engaged on each and every track. And the two best ways to do that, are to play something (old or new) that feels energetic and catchy that everybody feels, or to incorporate something recognizable and get people singing or reminiscing, etc. A combination of those two elements generally makes for the best live tracks.
You probably get asked this question a shit ton, so I apologize, but where did the panda masks come into play?
All else equal, one of the main drawbacks of a DJ show vs a rock show for example, is that a DJ show has a couple of people standing behind a table, whereas a rock show has a band of guys walking around the stage, shredding on instruments. Music aside, the rock show has much more visual appeal. Consequently, you see DJ's bringing in incredible lighting and production rigs to create a spectacle for their music. Most evidently in setups like the main stages as EDC, Ultra, Tomorrowworld, etc. But everyone starts out on a small stage -- and the masks were part of our act from day one as a way to enhance the visual quality of our performances. We've continued to develop them and improve upon them and they remain a staple in our live shows today.
After that SCU show, I started to check out your music and came across the Bearly Legal EP. I was really impressed by a few of the mashups. When you're creating a mashup or remix track, what are the key elements you feel are essential for creating a memorable track?
In terms of the individual samples -- a similar answer to earlier: recognizability is big, and so is energy. But when mixing the samples together, there are a few things. Firstly, I try my best to keep both samples in their original key and near their original tempo. Too much adjustment in those areas will throw people off as they'll notice the high pitched voice or the sped up drum beat, for example. Once you've got mixes that work together tonically and rhythmically, it's just about using your ear. In the past I've mentioned syncopation and swing, but more than anything I just listen carefully to each mix after I've made it and decide which ones sound the best together.
You'll be playing The Regency Ballroom in San Francisco this Sunday, December 27. I see a lot more holiday tours coming through the country as of the past couple of years! Music never seems to sleep. In your opinion, what drew you guys towards playing this small run of holiday shows?
This is actually something we've done every year. I think it's great because most people are home for the holidays and likely looking for fun activities to do. In addition, when we play in SF in the spring for example, we always get messages from people who were "away at school" or "traveling for work" etc, so the holidays are an ideal time to give everyone an opportunity to come out and se a performance.
For those coming out to the San Francisco date, what can we expect in terms of a White Panda show?
Energy. Our shows will tire you out. But you'll love it. You'll hear music from multiple decades -- some of which you know and love, some of which you've never heard before. You'll sing, you'll dance, you'll jump up and down and we'll keep a few surprises in our back pockets for you.
This is the last question I ask to every artist that I interview. It's rather broad, but: what does music mean to you?
Music has been the theme of my entire life. I took my first piano lesson at age 8. Every multimedia school project I did from then on revolved around music. I wrote an indy rock album in high school. I mixed electronic music in college. And my entire career has been producing and performing music worldwide. Suffice to say my life would be entirely different without music, but I'm glad it is the way it is. And I have music to thank for that.
For more music from The White Panda, visit www.facebook.com/thewhitepanda
For TICKETS to see The White Panda at San Francisco's Regency Ballroom THIS SUNDAY, December 27, visit http://www.theregencyballroom.com/events/detail/282175
This has been another Shameless Promotion.