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Baker's Dozen

Bear Necessities: Gold Panda's Favourite Albums
John Freeman , June 1st, 2016 08:29

Following the release of his third album, Good Luck And Do Your Best, Derwin talks to John Freeman about the 13 albums, from Michael Jackson to the Akira soundtrack, that helped shape his Gold Panda project


Geinoh Yamashirogumi – Akira: Original Soundtrack
This is an album by an art collective that use many traditional Japanese instruments. They had done a bunch of albums and ended up doing the Akira soundtrack. Being a teenager and seeing that film just blew me away. I wanted to know more about the film, so I got into the soundtrack. I would listen to it on my headphones and would spend my time thinking how cool Japan was.

The soundtrack is apocalyptic Buddhist-Shinto chanting with a lot of synthesised bells, huge taiko drums and many other traditional Japanese instruments played in a minimal, atmospheric way. I don't think I have heard anything like it since. It is very futuristic, in the same way that Japan keeps an extremely forward-thinking approach to architecture and other art forms, while also trying to maintain traditional elements. I think the Akira soundtrack is the perfect futuristic soundtrack, alongside something like Escape From New York by John Carpenter.

Did this album trigger your love of Japanese culture?

Yes. Akira as a film was the beginning of my love affair with Japan. I wasn't able to buy the soundtrack when I was a kid, but I got it when I was older. It was definitely the thing that made me interested in those type of sounds. I don't know why I have an interest in those type of sounds but it is linked to being interested in Japan for so long, that it feels quite natural. It is not forced into my music. Before, I made a conscious effort to use certain sounds, but now it just happens – which is nice. But, yeah, the Akira soundtrack was the jumping-off point for the whole Japan obsession.