Prime Panda, a five-piece funk, jazz and hip-hop band based in London, are a truly exciting band. When they performed at Smashed Vinyl's Girls' Night back in February, their set was intoxicatingly high energy and packed with charm, personality and groove. Literally everyone was dancing.
Smashed Vinyl had the opportunity to catch up with Prime Panda to ask them a few questions about what they're all about and where they're headed as a band.
From what I've heard live, Prime Panda is an intoxicating, high energy fusion of different styles and genres. How would you describe the music you make?
We say psychedelic jazz funk when asked but basically every song is a different mix of genres.
Which musicians or bands would you say have influenced your sound the most?
We all bring a bunch of different influences. We narrowed it down to Hiatus Kaiyote, Nubiyan Twist, Pink Floyd, Jordan Rakei, BADBADNOTGOOD, Erykah Badu, Robert Glasper, Mouse Outfit, Radiohead, Kendrick Lamar, Tool. There are loads more!
For all of you, what was the last song you listened to?
Alex: Nick Hakim - Cuffed
Shay: Ari Lennox - GOAT
Tess: Yellow Days - That Easy
Tuur: The Bad Plus - Never Stop
What projects have you been working on recently?
Our first EP! We’re super excited to release our first single and we’re working on some really cool video ideas. Release date is planned for May so stay tuned.
We definitely will! How do you write your songs? What’s the process like?
Alex: Either me or Shay will come with an idea - a riff or some chords, then everyone will jam it and sort of bring their own elements to it. We then just try different directions with everyone throwing in ideas. Sometimes it takes quite a few sessions to develop our original ideas and we often end up in a completely different place to where we started off.
Tess: I add the vocal parts and lyrics but a lot of what I write is really influenced by the guys, we work together for the most part. Sometimes the actual process seems like a bit of a blur but when we really have something we usually know it instantly.
Where do you guys rehearse? And what are your rehearsals like?
Alex: Kentish Town Studios. Mostly we just take the piss out of each other - occasionally Shay decides to rage at the rest of us for slacking.
Shay: Tuur only says 1 sentence per session. But when he does speak it’s usually important or savage as f***.
Tess: Michael is always the first one there. Alex usually turns up in a suit. Shay wears his panda hoodie. Me and Tuur drink beer.
What’s it like being in a female fronted band?
Tess: I guess this one’s for me! If I’m honest it doesn’t change much for me, we’re just a group of people who love making music. We’re conscious though that sometimes gigs aren’t a great place for women and we do think its an issue that needs more scrutiny. We love what you guys are doing!
What’s the long term plan for Prime Panda? What are your goals for in the next couple of years? And what are the big dreams?
Shay: We wanna get to a stage where we have our own brand of vitamin water, Funko POP figures, brief acting stints and all the rest of it. But that starts with us putting out a much delayed EP and playing some bigger festivals. Some of our favourite artists aren’t actually that big, so playing on a bill or collabing with them would be awesome. Having fun while doing it is a little important too.
Tess: Fame. Fortune. Spandex. Glitter.
What do you prefer, the Brighton music scene, or your scene back home?
Alex: We love Brighton - me and Shay studied and met there and the few gigs we have played have been amazing. And having been to loads of gigs we know the concentration of talent and creativity is so high! London can be a bit random in terms of lineup but there are some amazing venues, and we’ve been lucky to play some awesome shows there.
Tess: I don’t know Brighton as well as the other guys but I've absolutely fallen in love with the place after 2 gigs. The talent is insane and the people are friendly. It's a real gem of a place. London is great but it's huge, it can often feel like a struggle to make an impact. Having said that, we just love making music so all opportunities are amazing whatever and wherever they are.
There’s a film coming out soon about a man who wakes up one morning to find that none of The Beatles music ever existed. If you could erase and then take the credit for the music of any band, which band would you pick?
Alex: Some of the bands I’d pick I probably can’t even play anyways. Like if you just erased Robert Glasper Experiment they’d just be gone. Maybe Pink Floyd.
Shay: Probs Stevie Wonder or Hendrix, you’d basically be god.
Tess: Van Morrison. No doubt that man is grumpy but he's a genius.
What’s your dream festival line up? You have 5 bands, dead or alive.
Shay: This is hard hahah Kendrick Lamar, Tool, Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Wonder, Jordan Rakei can I have six? Okay sweet well Periphery too. (Don’t @ me)
Tess: Hendrix, Funkadelic, Amy Winehouse, Joy Division, The Walkmen (curveball but they're my favourite band of all time)
How do you balance your music careers with your daily life?
Tess: I'm a student midwife so it's not always easy! I have literally delivered babies and then the next day been on stage. I wouldn't have it any other way!
Alex: My work’s fairly flexible so it’s cool, it’s just making time after work and the evening to do everything you need to including band practice, admin, your own practice etc.
Shay: With abit of difficulty, but with huge pleasure. I have a flexible, but stressful job which I absolutely love. But I also want to make sure I can get better at my instrument and music outside of band...and have a social life. Not bad problems to have.
Any upcoming gigs we should know about?
Shay: Yeah! We have a fundraiser for Greenpeace at the World’s End in Finsbury Park on the 27th April. Should be an awesome night and one which connects two things I’m passionate about.