Music for daydreaming about rollerblading on Santa Monica Pier and drinking out of a coconut.
Panama creates music that dares you not to dance. While we may be entering those wretched colder months, the Sydney-based band will have you blissfully imagining yourself rollerblading on the Santa Monica Pier while drinking out of a coconut complete with a miniature umbrella. Panama’s first album has been in development for over two years, and it was in LA last year that their debut single ‘Magic’ was produced and mixed by Eric Broucek from DFA Records (whose worked with Holy Ghost and !!! in the past). We spoke to frontman Jarrah McCleary about the experience of recording abroad and what to expect from the album.
Hannah Ongley: Did you name your band after a wide-brimmed straw hat, a Van Halen song, a Central American country, or none of the above?
Jarrah McCleary: I'm going to go with a wide-brimmed straw hat on this one, although for us, the name Panama evokes images of Palm trees, beers, never-ending Summer, nostalgia and faded photographs of beach holidays. I think it’s fairly indicative of our sound and where it comes from. Los Angeles probably had a lot to do with that, too — all that free poured tequila.
Why did you decide to record the record in LA?
LA is where our producer Eric lives. It also felt like a different place to record, rather than heading to somewhere like New York. It does seem like creative people are starting to trickle back into LA — for a while there it was getting a little stale and sepia-coloured. It was nice to feel the colour draining back, it felt exciting again.
What’s better: Santa Monica or Venice Beach?
Unfortunately during my three months in LA, I didn't get the chance to check out Venice Beach! We were in the studio a lot, so I didn’t get the opportunity to hang out as much as I would have liked. Santa Monica was pretty cool, though. Echo park was also a great area, particularly for unbelievable coffee — some cafe's even have their own coffee experts who can recommend the most supreme bean... They are like sommelier’s for coffee. I’m a complete coffee nerd, so I loved it.
You were a classically trained pianist from the age of six. Were you like Mozart composing your own piano songs as a child?
Sadly, no... Although I did start off writing songs on the piano when I was very young. My mum has the photos to prove it!
What else can we expect from your forthcoming album?
Hopeful house, hints of disco, nostalgic pop.
Take a listen to 'Magic' below:
Interview: Hannah Ongley