Baker's Dozen

Artists discuss the 13 records that shaped their lives

Bear Necessities: Gold Panda’s Favourite Albums

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

Photograph courtesy of Laura Lewis

"I cannot believe I have got Snap! on this list," laughs Derwin, aka Gold Panda, over a Skype video link, with a mixture of defiance and incredulity. Admittedly, the ’90s German Eurodance outfit aren’t regular inclusions in the Baker’s Dozen series, but Derwin seems perfectly willing to show some love for this ‘least cool’ of bands.

Derwin wasn’t always as eager to share his innermost foibles. I first met him in 2010 at a Manchester venue ahead of a show to promote his debut record – the wonderful, sepia-tinged techno of Lucky Shiner. As we chatted in a dingy dressing room, he cut a disconsolate figure, a man struggling with the public glare generated by the early success of his project.

Before Derwin’s set that night, a girl by the merchandising stall asked him if he would look after her coat, while she watched Gold Panda. She became miffed when he patiently explained that he couldn’t, as he wouldn’t be there all the time. It was obvious that the girl had no clue who Derwin was and it seemed that, back then, anonymity suited him fine.

Fast-forward six years, and the Peckham-born, Chelmsford-raised producer is about to release the beautiful, Japan-inspired Good Luck And Do Your Best. As we catch up, Derwin reveals that the album began as an entirely different project – a trip to Japan with photographer Laura Lewis to collect field recordings and accompanying visuals. However, Derwin’s love of the country – triggered by one of his Baker’s Dozen choices (the Akira soundtrack) – ensured that Good Luck And Do Your Best is enveloped in a warm reverence of his Japanese odyssey.

In fact, Derwin has used the Baker’s Dozen exercise to chart a path through his own personal musical journey. "I have picked these albums on the basis that they have all been a moment in my life, as opposed to being the ‘best’ albums," he tells me. "This list documents my history through music," Derwin continues, reflecting on his first techno record (by Janet Jackson), the act of stealing samples (De La Soul) and his love for the electronic purity of artists such as Snd. "My musical life is in these albums and, therefore, [they] are the albums that have probably meant the most to me."

As for a link connecting his choices, Derwin picks up on a theme that, for a largely instrumental artist, relies heavily of the spoken word. "I think many of these albums – Janet Jackson, Marvin Gaye, Mobb Deep, Alternative TV and even Snap! – have either a story or a manifesto. They are trying to make a statement. However, I feel that all the albums end with a bit of hope, no matter how dark they are."

Good Luck And Do Your Best is out now on City Slang. Gold Panda plays Field Day on June 11; for full details and tickets, head here

First Record

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