30 November 2010

[Interview] The White Panda

posted by: D Prep Artists' Choices and Voices | Interviews

Two Guys, Living Halfway Across The Country From One Another, Quit Their Jobs and Make Mashups For a Living

The mashup has become a played out art; few do it well, too many do it. In a land of poorly-mixed songs flooding the genre, a few artists stick out as the leaders of the pack: Girl Talk, Super Mash Bros, and The White Panda. I had a chance to sit down (virtually) with one half of The White Panda the other night to discuss life, aspirations, and music. Dan Griffith, better known as DJ Griffi, first started making music back in high school. “When I got to college,” Griffi told me, “I was really influenced by dance music, particularly house/electro and my style sort of shifted with that.” He points to Girl Talk as one of the influences that got him into the mashup genre. “Coinciding with my interest in dance music, really innovative artists like Girl Talk were putting out neat stuff that I was a big fan of. I basically started playing around with that kind of fusion. I wanted to put a spin on what I saw him having success with.”

As one might assume from their extremely eclectic mashups (The White Panda has pulled samples from artists ranging from Maroon 5 to The Who, Britney Spears to Kelly Clarkson, Rich Boy to Earth, Wind & Fire), Griffi pulls inspiration from everywhere. “I’m very open minded about music across all genres which helps me keep my ears open at all times. I can literally be at a café somewhere and a cool song comes on the radio that I connect with, or I’ll watch the new Target commercial and use that as my next sample. Just always looking for something that catches my ear.” When asked what music DJ Griffi listens to in his free time, he can’t really pinpoint anybody, which is an asset if anything. “I listen to everything from Cat Stevens to Deadmau5, so it’s hard to pinpoint what type of music I truly listen to in my free time. Artists I’m currently digging though? Mimosa, Felguk, and Matt and Kim’s new album.”

The White Panda

“Traveling is awesome but exhausting at times”

With such varied musical inspirations, Griffi and Tom Evans, aka Procast, the other half of The White Panda, have been able to find consistent success. On the road from Wednesday to Sunday, Griffi and Procast have been able to spread their music through live shows across the nation. “Traveling is awesome but exhausting at times. It’s cool getting to see all parts of the country, but the long travel days catch up to you at times. Performing is always awesome no matter what. I love getting out there and connecting with the crowd-it’s a rush unlike anything else and never gets old. Some crazy shows this fall have been UMass where there were like 5,000 kids rowdy kids packed into an arena.”

While Girl Talk is a single producer (Gregg Gillis), The White Panda has the advantage of two sets of ears to critique and perfect their music. “I live out in LA,” Griffi told me, “and Tom lives out in Chicago. So, for about half the week we link up and travel and do shows, and the other half we live in our own worlds. It works well. It’s good having another ear on production to help critique and offer additional insight.” They often start mixes individually, and then bring their mixes together and collaborate. “We’ll typically send concepts back and forth and add our two cents into the idea to try and make it better.”

The White Panda

“Sometimes I […] can finish it in a day. Other times […] several weeks

When it comes time for White Panda to produce music, ideas and songs come about in varied ways. “Sometimes I know exactly how I want a certain track to sound and can finish it in a day. Other times I will tweak and alter a song over a period of several weeks to get it so it sounds right.  We like to drop a lot of cool new content all at once-stuff that we’ve been working on for a while, stuff we’ve been perfecting at shows. Sometimes we find absolutely dirty beats and go look for a vocal that will work, and other times we find a high energy vocal and we’ll search for a beat that works.”

The White Panda has found a huge amount of success at doing something they love to do. Asked to describe the experience-quitting well-paid consulting jobs to tour the nation, play music for thousands of kids, and develop a massive fan base in the process-in one word, Griffi doesn’t hesitate to respond; “Filthy.”


White Panda on Facebook

Download White Panda’s “Rematch”

Download White Panda’s “Versus”

Read More Interviews on Sunset in the Rearview


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