My Panda Shall Fly talks to Benjamin Jackson
Beat-artisan and artist Suren Seneviratne, under the moniker of My Panda Shall Fly, recently teamed up with the gifted, and prolific percussive sounds of Benjamin Jackson, to collaborate on elective EP ‘Let’s Vibrate Together‘.
The result of the six-track EP – including three remixes from patten, Chairman Kato and Cloud Boat – was a pulsating, discombobulating and marvellous electronic package, wrapped-up in an enigmatic, well produced veneer. How the duo came to create the EP is atypical of the normal working relationship; the two having never met prior to starting the process of creating tracks, conversing only via email, following encouragement from a mutual friend. A paradigm in a microcosm for the digital age perhaps?
With this in mind, it seemed befitting to mimic this approach for an interview we had lined-up. So we asked them to interview each other; with the caveat being the interview could only take place via email. Being good sports, they agreed to this, and below are the enlightening results.
My Panda Shall Fly: Was it always the intention of when we first got in contact, that we’d end up working in this email back-and-forth way? And when did you feel that this is a creative relationship that ‘worked’?
Benjamin Jackson: After you contacted me it made sense to just crack on and see if it worked, with the aid of the internet I think we put together like two or three tracks in the first week or so? I felt it worked pretty much then. I found collaborating via email a great way to work and keep organised. Having stems, samples, messages and instructions waiting for me in my inbox certainly made the walks home from work more exciting. Rather than arranging meet ups I could work at my own pace which proved very fruitful.
M: Do you think the working process change after we met?
B: No, not really, if anything it ramped upwards. After I realised how much of a cat you were I felt a lot better about the whole project.
M: Last time I was over at yours, you played me a whole bunch of your other material, folders and folders of completely varying styles and genres, and it seems to me that you’ve spent a lot of time experimenting with your sound over the years – much like myself. Can you talk about some of the types of stuff you’ve been making since you first started production?
B: I have experimented a lot over the years on a number of platforms. At first imitating my influences. As I grew up I tried to become more original. I think the older I get, my perception matures and I learn to let the music ‘go’ as it were instead of trying to make it sound a certain way. I’ve also been told that the rate of my output is rather high, which would explain the folders of unused material. Having said that, just recently I underwent a form of bizarre, self imposed, creative cleansing and deleted everything I ever made which wasn’t released and changed all my software and studio setup, so you wont see those folders again ;) The results have been epic. However I don’t recommend this approach.
B: A recent review of ‘Lets Vibrate Together’ described the sound as streetwise. This is certainly an aspect of my music I didn’t realise existed. What’s your take on this? Being a South London boy, how do you feel the sound of the city affects your sound?
M: Yeah that’s interesting. I suppose I understand the “streetwise” reference to the “Data-Module” track which has elements of early 80s drum-machine electro and b-boy funk.
It is also such a mashup in itself – I remember us listening back to it afterwards and loving the fact that there are so many ideas we managed to squeeze on there. It feels like there’s three different “songs” within that track. A fusion of sorts. So I get why it was described as “street-wise”.
Spending a significant portion of my teenage years in South London has certainly left UK Garage and Grime footprints ingrained in my sound palette! I’ve no doubt these characteristics also managed to sneak onto the EP somewhere / somehow.
B: How do you approach writing a track and what sort of sound are you most excited about at the moment?
M: You know I still haven’t found a sound that I’d like to stick with and make just that for a long time. People have always told me you should refine a style and just do that but I don’t think I’m that kind of producer. I’d just get bored with making the same thing all the time. Recently I’ve been experimenting with wide tempo ranges I’ve never explored before.
B: What’s the balance between recorded sound and synthesised sound in your production?
M: The majority of my sounds are synthesised, or at the least are samples of other recorded sounds. I’ve not done too much with recording stuff on my own although I recently completed a world music project with my engineer Asier Leatxe in which we heavily recorded and played in live instruments.
M: So we had our EP launch party over the weekend; how was it for you and have you given any thought to what the future might hold for MPSF X BJ now that we have shared a record and a stage together for the first time?
B: The launch party was unbelievable. I felt a lot of love and support from everyone, which was great considering it was my debut live show. The label pulls a great crowd with good vibes all round. The future of MPSF X BJ? I think we got many more tunes in us still bro……
M: I agree. It was FUNbelievable indeed (sorry). There was a great crowd, one of the best I’ve played to in a long time. Really warm and receptive. I remember seeing beautiful faces everytime I looked up during my set and that was nice. As for more MPSF x BJ music – I think without a doubt we’d be able to come up with something ten times as incredible and rewarding as this first EP with ease ;)
The EP is out on Five Easy Pieces now.