Panda City…Wow, we were really blown away with your latest EP. Much respect for pushing quality Hip Hop. In what year was the band formed? Also, how did you guys know each other prior to the band being formed?
Mazz-1 – Thanks so much! We were formed in February 2016 when I answered an ad from Clacc looking to form a live instrument Hip Hop group. I always had an interest in this style but frankly, I can’t stand the metal hybrid style that dominates the crossover with Hip Hop. Being in many bands previously, I felt that I could start the assembly process and go from there. One musician led to another, and voila! Justin was a band member of a guitarist I know, and Clacc found E through an ad and some Instagram posts. We absolutely had no real musical similarities beforehand. For the most part, we still don’t outside of what we create together, and that may be the key to our sound. The bottom line is – does Clacc get his point across and do we then put it forward in a manner that will keep you moving, interested and hopefully enlightened.
How many fans do you guys have in the local community and surrounding areas, also do you guys cater to adults or kids, maybe both lets say. Please detail exactly who you guys are targeting on a consistent basis.
E– We are growing a local fan base in NYC. At our first show at Pianos of NYC, we were overwhelmed by the amount of people that came to support us. I’d say our music caters to people of all walks of life. Each song off of our EP, “Panda City,” tells a different story that everyone can relate to in some way. As for a certain demographic that we are trying to target, I can’t say that there is a specific group of people whether it be age, race, or location. We want to get our music into the ears of everyone.
Mazz-1 – I have a secret and somewhat funny business model for garnering an audience. We keep that to ourselves, haha. But seriously, we want to target anyone but we need to stay true to the Hip Hop mission. It is too easy to slip into another genre. I think of it like using the first generation recording for duplication whereas if you make copies of copies, you lose quality. If we stay Hip Hop, and never consciously deviate from that original mission, any deviation that naturally happens will only enhance the product. Hip Hop is first and foremost our style. We do not consider ourselves a crossover group.
Feel free to breakdown the creative process of your latest project, “Panda City EP”.
Clacc – Our creative process is kind of all over the place. Most of the time I’m trying to relay a tune I hear in my head to the rest of the guys. However, since I don’t speak instrument, it makes it a little difficult for the guys to understand what I’m trying to say. Often times, Justin lays down a sick bass loop and I’ll more than likely have some lyrics already written. From there all the pieces just sort of fall in place. Young E will create one of his sick solos at the end of the song and Mazz-1 will get to knocking! That’s basically it.
Who are your Hip Hop and band influences?
Mazz-1 – By far my Hip Hop influences are old school. I still get goosebumps listening to PE, Naughty by Nature and NWA. My rock influences are vast depending on the mood but in Panda City, I really try to channel Tony Thompson from Chic and Power Station for his ability to groove and just stick it. No frills but you’ll start dancing.
Clacc– For me, my biggest influences are Kanye West, Jay Z and J Cole. These guys are the people I listen to and push to be better than.
E– Believe it or not, I’ve rarely listened to hip hop before joining Panda City and other than our own material and Clacc’s solo project material, I still rarely listen it. I grew up listening to progressive metal and was trained in jazz at the Collective School of Music. Although I enjoy listening to and playing hip hop, I can’t say I have an specific band or artist than inspires me to write for Panda City. A lot of the material I do come up with is more jazz fusion based modal progressions.
How many music videos do you guys have as Panda City?
Clacc – We just released our first music video for “Secrets” not too long ago. It is certainly the first of many to come. Considering we just got together a few months ago I’m glad we were able to get that one done.
Do any of the artists in the band have solo careers?
Clacc– I think we all did. In order to get to the level these guys are at they had to have some previous band experience. I have a few mixtape a out and continue to make solo projects. However, this is my main focus. All roads lead to panda city.
Mazz-1 – I spent many years in a touring, full-time punk band and I’m still in a few other projects but Clacc summed it up – all roads lead to Panda City for myself also!
E– Other than my solo jazz – fusion band, I have a solo progressive metal project I have been working on for the last few years. I’m still in the writing process for an EP but I should be starting the recording phase in the next month or so.
How do you guys feel about the recent desiigner song, “Panda”. Its kinda is putting the word PANDA out there in the Hip Hop world now. Has this effected your guys name in any way. Maybe some people who have never heard of the band might jump the gun and put the 2 together..LOL
Clacc – We thought of the name before the song became such a success. I’m glad for Desiigner. I look at it like this , he’s able to feed his family and loved ones off of that song. Regardless of how you feel about him as an artist, that’s the bigger picture of it all. This, of course, is just my opinion.
Here it is! Our most popular question! What is your definition of “underground hip hop”?
Mazz-1 – My definition of it is unfortunately skeptically based. I think it’s anything with a proper message and storytelling. The state of commercial music in all genres is so dumbed down it’s sinful.
Where can people find you on the web? Drop all the vital links.
Listen to Panda City – EP by Panda City on @AppleMusic. itun.es/us/Lh0Lcb
Lastly, and shout out?
Dana Gordon at Independent Music Media! Without her, this wouldn’t have gotten off the ground.