Wednesday 29 September 2010

K&A with Panda Su

(left to right: Panda Su, panda)

Like a lot of other Scottish acts out there, Fife's Panda Su is someone whose name I'd heard and "always meant to getting around to listening to". Earlier this month I finally managed to have a listen when she took to the stage at Glasgow's Oran Mor supporting Beerjacket. First thing I did when I got home was buy her 2009 debut Sticks and Bricks EP. and the second, was to chance my arm and see if she'd be up for an interview. It's safe to say that not only did I love what I heard, but she said "yes" too. Take it away Su....

Kowalskiy: Who is Panda Su?
Panda Su: Hello. My name is Su Shaw and I am Panda Su. There is only one of me, however, there are always at least 2 of us on stage. Sometimes there are 3 of us, occasionally 4; but always 2.

Kowalskiy: When did you first start making music, and what's the idea behind the name?
Su: I first started making music when I was 10, on a Yamaha keyboard that I got for Christmas. I used to re-write the lyrics to Edelweiss and House of The Rising Sun. I started writing music as Panda Su early 2008.

Panda’s are quite solitary creatures and I’m quite a private person. I wanted a name that would reflect my music and an image that would be recognizable. A panda was the perfect fit.

Kowalskiy: How would you describe 'your sound'?
Su: I’d list my music under Alternative Folk/Dark Pop. Someone once called it ‘gentle, melodic, colourful music which curls up in your head’. I like that.

Kowalskiy: Who/what/where are your main musical influences?
Su: Where I live is a big influence on my music. I suppose I have the same influences as everyone else – places I’ve been, people I know, and things that have had an impact on me – but I write about them in a less obvious way.

Kowalskiy: You released your Sticks and Bricks EP last year. What was the story behind it, and what has Panda Su been up to since then?
Su: The songs on Sticks and Bricks were the first I ever wrote as Panda Su. I had planned to record them myself and only ever intended to make a handful of copies to sell whilst on my travels. I was then introduced to Steve (Mason) and after I played him the demos, we decided to work together. The EP was finally released in October of last year and the response has been really positive, which I’m really grateful for.

Since then, I’ve been playing lots of shows around Scotland and England and was lucky enough to play sets at some great festivals this Summer, including Secret Garden Party, Belladrum and Wickerman.

Kowalskiy: I recently seen you support Beerjacket at Oran Mor. It was an amazing gig, though maybe a bit unusual. How'd you find the candlelit table setup?
Su: It’s difficult to gage the audience’s reaction when it’s so dark and everyone is so quiet – but we enjoyed playing. We’ve played Oran Mor before but it was nice to finally share a bill with Peter (Beerjacket) as we’d talked about doing a gig together for ages.

Kowalskiy: While we're on the subject, what would be your ideal gig?
Su: The venue would be somewhere secluded, and completely inaccessible by foot. There would be heavy snowfall outside. We’d share the bill with Arcade Fire. There would be a log fire. Bon Iver would fish for our supper. The XX would be our roadies. Zooey Deschanel would be my best friend. There would be a dance off with Darwin Deez.

Kowalskiy: What's been your Panda Su highlight so far?
Su: There’s been a few – being able to play at festivals I’d never been to before, like Secret Garden Party and Moseley Folk Festival. Hearing Eric is Dead on the season finale of Skins. Playing the Karnival de Kulturen in Berlin was my favourite gig this year. Afterwards, someone asked me to sign their face for €10.

Kowalskiy: What other bands are you listening to at the moment?
Su: Right now I’m listening to School of Seven Bells and The National. Lyrically, I’m a big fan of Death Cab for Cutie and Sufjan Stevens.

Kowalskiy: And lastly, what can we all expect from Panda Su in the future?
Su: We’ve got one last gig at Bloc in Glasgow next month and then I’m taking the rest of the year off to record the next EP, which will be out in February. This will be followed by a UK tour and a visit to Europe to play some shows later on in the year.

Sticks and Bricks is available from Amazon MP3 by clicking on the artwork above and here from iTunes.

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