Exclusive: The White Panda Dishes Up ‘Bearly Legal’, The EDM-Rap Mashup Divide
Mashup murderers, The White Panda, dropped their fifth full-length album, Bearly Legal, this week (June 10) for the “smash-up” price of FREE (as the albums are). The Chi-Town duo—made up of Procrast (Tom Evans) and DJ Griffi (Dan Griffith)—are known to mix and mash their way across the States alongside hip-hop elite, such as Wale and Mac Miller, also joining electronic stars like Tiësto, Benny Benassi, Steve Aoki and more, on stages. Panda’s boyhood-buds and beatsmiths (say it three times fast and they’ll mash it up) are about to embark on a new tour, making people of all ages (better be careful of those “barely legal” P.Y.T.’s) go wild to the creative combo jams. Meet The White Panda in this exclusive interview with VIBE and cop Bearly Legal, here.
Talk about the process you two go through when putting together a mashup.
The White Panda: Most mixes begin as individual efforts. We send each other short ‘concepts,’ which are basically rough mashup ideas. When we think a concept has potential, we’ll put some more time into it. [We] tighten up the foundation of the mix, add additional production (drums, bass, synths) where we feel it’s necessary and master the track. These steps are much more collaborative as sometimes your ear can numb itself to a mix [after] hearing [the same] loop for hours on end. We build these ideas into an arsenal of finalized mashups, and only release our very favorites.
Aside from your success in the mashup production game, is there any reason you guys have yet to produce your own original tracks?
We spend a great deal of time producing original tracks, but we are still mastering our craft so to speak before scheduling any releases. In addition to that, our fans have a certain expectation of our musical style and we want to make sure that we reconcile our vision for the project with a product that our current fans will truly appreciate.
Can we look forward to any original productions by The White Panda in the future?
Yes, but we’re not in a huge rush to get that content out. Developing a unique and novel sound is not an easy task, and as our own biggest critics don’t plan to release anything we’re not 100% satisfied with. That said, our new album Bearly Legal has a substantial amount of original production supporting the mixes. The album allowed us to utilize some obscure and awesome samples.
You’ve shared stages with rappers like Wale and Mac Miller to electronic greats such as Tiësto and Benny Benassi… what’s more fun for you guys, live hip-hop or EDM?
It’s always an honor to hop on the same stage as an artist or group that makes it into our regular listening rotations. We tend to pair better with EDM than rap because even though we use both of those genres heavily in our music, the energy and vibe of our performances more closely emulate that of an EDM show than a hip-hop show. As a result, EDM fans are easier for us to win over and we have the most fun on stage when the crowd is really feeling our music.
Are there any artists who you consider to be competition in your musical niche?
Not really – there are plenty of other big names in the mashup genre: Girl Talk, 3lau, Super Mash Bros – and we’ve performed with all of them at one time or another. There’s definitely a mutual respect between the big names in mashups, and we’re much more interested in seeing what direction they take their music than worrying about where we stand in the competitive space.
Who are some of your musical influences?
In general, we like to see artists that push the envelope of what’s popular. Girl Talk did that in the early 2000’s when he brought the mashup genre into the mainstream. Daft Punk did that in 2001 with Discovery, putting out one of the first EDM records long before the craze. Recently, groups like Alt-J have stood out to us by making a name for themselves with a sound that is unlike anyone else’s. Ultimately, it’s the trendsetters that see the most success in this industry.
Who are your top four artists to mashup? Two rappers to electro producers!
Ooo, this is tough. We’ve got to throw Wale out there. Something about his voice is able to pierce through electronic music remarkably well and he’s always an awesome feature in a mix. Probably, Michael Jackson/The Jackson 5 too. Their music is so timeless that sampling it brings life into any genre. Daft Punk makes the cut too – all of their music is so groovy and so recognizable, it’s perfectly suited for great mashups. Lastly, we’ll say Swedish House Mafia. For top-notch production and feel-good energy, they’re one of the best acts out there and every crowd loves hearing samples from them in a set.
What’s next from The White Panda?
Right now we’re gearing up for a tour in support of our new album, Bearly Legal. Over the next few weeks we’ll be rolling out full-length versions of the individual mixes from the album. After that, a steady stream of new music and podcasts as we continue to try and bring a fresh.