They’re not from Central America and they don’t make reggaeton. Much to the chagrin of what many may think, Panama are the next big thing in Australia. Formed by Jarrah McClearly and Tim Commandeur, Panama is making a name of itself in the electronic music scene thanks to a warm proposal that combines the feeling of soul and the nostalgia of pop. A new turn of the screw to the synthetic sounds of the 21st century that the band has expressed in EPs like It’s Not Over or the recent Always, in which they reinvent the sounds of the 80s with keyboards, deep rhythms and emotion-laden vocals. We interviewed them at the Primavera Sound festival.
It seems that the Australian scene is growing at a staggering speed. At least this is the perception we have here. Just take a look at the Primavera Sound line-up: it’s you, Chet Faker, Movement… Do you have the same perception there?
It’s true that over the past five years a new Australian electronic sound has been developing, especially in Sidney. Our record label Future Classic is to blame for this scene, mostly. Chet Faket, Flight Facilities or Touch Sensitive, to name a few, come from there.
Are Sidney and Melbourne in the same pack?
No, Sidney is much more into electronic music. Besides, everyone is aware that something is happening and bands collaborate and support each other a lot. Melbourne also has an electronic scene, but it’s a very big city, so they sound is slightly different and there are different scenes within one given genre. Also, Melbourne has always had a more rock and indie tradition.
What do you think about Barcelona musically?
I think there’s a lot going on as far as electronic music goes. At least this is what I hear whenever I’m with someone from Barcelona.
What bands from Sidney should we listen to?
Touch Sensitive, Oscar Key Sund or Kilter are essential.
Tell us about your new stuff. You’ve released a couple of singles. What’s next?
There’s another single coming, which somehow is a continuation of our sound. The album, if that’s what you’re asking about, is almost done. We’re trying to see where to put each element.
You are working with Broucek from DFA, which says a lot about yourselves…
We worked with Broucek in one of our previvous singles. Now we’re working with another Eric. We like to collaborate with different people and try new things. But, yeah, we love DFA’s sound.
Why Panama? Did you fall in love there or something?
No, in fact we’ve never been there. We just liked the sound of it. It sounds like you’re talking about Paradise.
How did you meet?
I (Jarrah) come from a tropical place and Tim comes from Queensland, which is by the sea. We met in Sidney and we’d been in several other bands, but we were looking forward to making electronic music. We wanted to mix acoustic and electronic music. And so we formed Panama.
Your favourite hotposts in Sidney are…
Good God Small Club. A must if you visit the city.
You never thought you’d end up…
Going on international tours with our own band like we’re doing now. You have a lot of experiences you wouldn’t have otherwise. Today we played in Barcelona by the sea, and tomorrow we’re heading for Berlin, where the landscape will be completely different. All of a sudden we’re in Europe, where everyday is an adventure and where we connect with a lot of different people with our music. This is something we thought we would never have and here we are!
Wearing a hat. Though I wore one today but I hate it. So I guess I woudn’t ban anything…
Doing something you love and making a living out of it.