The Work

The Work

Before he could begin work on making the first record as Gold Panda since 2016’s Good Luck and Do Your Best, Derwin Dicker had a few artistic pursuits to get out of his system. This is how it often works for the producer from Essex: to find the gold, he forces himself to dig deep. “I made an entirely different record first that I don’t know will ever see the light of day,” Dicker tells Apple Music. “It wasn’t a typical Panda record. I did the Selling record [2018’s On Reflection] with jas Shaw from Simian Mobile Disco before that, and it was quite like that, quite synthy.” Looking back, Dicker sees making an album that may not ever be released as a process that helped him work his way out of a bout of writer’s block. By the time he got to creating the songs that make up The Work, his fourth album under the Gold Panda handle, he could see everything clearly in front of him. “I had to get other music out of me first before I could go back to making Gold Panda stuff,” he says, explaining that this is the sound of him being comfortable as an artist. It’s my saving grace to be like, ‘Well, it sounds like me. I’m not trying to make someone else’s music.” That sound is a mesmerising one where ambient techno, dusty samples, glitchy grooves, twisted beats and euphoric bangers harmoniously coalesce. Let Dicker take you on a tour through The Work, track by track. “Swimmer” “I had all these beatless tracks that I’d been making, which were actually chopped-up sounds from other tracks I’d already made and released. I was swimming, and this one was going around my head when I was underwater doing the breaststroke. I could hear it, and I was like, ‘Oh, man, I’ve got to finish this.’ I just really liked it as the first thing that came on in the record.” “The Dream” “This was another track where I had a loop for ages. I had a demo track done as a stereo take, but it wasn’t right, and I could never be bothered to finish it off. Then, when I got comfortable in making the Gold Panda record again, it all came together. I realised that I had to add more to it rather than just hoping it would end up being finished magically. It spurred me on to record stuff properly. ‘The Dream’ is a continuation of me trying to do hip-hop stuff and then it becoming way too melodic for any rapper to be bothered to rap over it.” “The Corner” “I was given this record by a friend, “Well, Well,” Said the Rocking Chair by Dean Friedman, and it’s got this funny plasticine [sculpture] of him on a rocking chair on the cover. There’s this one line on there: ‘More often than not, I’m down here on the corner.’ I was watching The Wire for the third time, and they’re always going on about being on the corner, too. The sample was there, presented itself to me. It usually flows quite naturally from that—I just need to be in the right frame of mind to get it done. I need to be not searching for making a different record altogether.” “The Want” “‘The Want’ is my constant obsession with online shopping and buying stuff and always wanting stuff. The idea behind it is the constant searching and wanting, which is quite exhausting, especially if you’re interested in art or music. I don’t know what it is, but the need to have stuff—the need to have the album or to have a book or to have that Super Nintendo game you had when you were younger. There’s all this stuff I think I was obsessed with because I thought it would never be available again, so I’d hoard it. But now we live in a time where people are just churning out stuff.” “I’ve Felt Better (Than I Do Now)” “This was to do with depression. When my daughter was born, it was great, but it was also a massive change, and I was taking Sertraline, then feeling like, ‘I think I feel better than I have done for ages. I’m married, I’ve got kids, I’ve got a house. I’m fairly settled. I’m fairly happy career-wise. It’s not perfect, but I get to do my hobby as a job, and I’ve made peace with not being famous or whatever or not wanting to have things that I think maybe I should have at this point in my career.’ It’s kind of a paradox. It’s got a typical Panda-y sound, nestled in between something that is quite upfront and high-tempo for me.” “Plastic Future” “‘Plastic Future’ is me thinking, ‘Oh, I want to recycle this little bit of plastic, and I feel really bad if I throw it in the bin, but I realise that any of that stuff feels futile at the moment.’ The title was swimming round my head, and this track has the most distance from previous work, I think. The song titles say where I am in my thought process while making the record. I think a title can be quite guiding. You could title something and after reading the title, you could go, ‘Yeah, I see how you’ve got that,’ but I think that can also be a trick of clever naming.’” “New Days” “There’s a convenience store chain in Japan called NewDays—that’s where the title’s from. I made a little drum machine patch in a program called Pure Data, and I had a loop from that. Then it got ported to how I usually make music, with an Akai MPC. ‘New Days’ just felt right. It felt like a fresh start for me. It was nice to have after ‘Plastic Future.’ They blend into each other really well.” “I Spiral” “‘I Spiral’ is what I do when I’m overwhelmed. I unravel and spiral into a hole of depression. This and ‘Chrome’ are quite close in terms of texture and style. They were actually made as companion tracks. There’s a book by Curtis Roads called Microsound, and when I was making Lucky Shiner, the first record, people came up with this term called microsampling or microhouse—a tech-house kind of genre, very small snippets of samples. I’ve always been really into that kind of music. I’ve always been trying to make my drums quite digital and glitchy and have quite organic melodies, organic-sounding samples to go with the vinyl crackle. There’s something nice about the nostalgic and vintage with something very modern and digital.” “Arima” “This is another one like ‘Swimmer’ which steals samples from tracks that I’d already made, completely rearranged. ‘Swimmer’ and ‘Arima’ were the last ones to be added to the album and probably the tracks that were actually oldest—I just had to go back and re-record them in a live way to make them finished and fit with the other stuff. Arima is a place where I was living in Kawasaki, in Japan.” “Chrome” “‘Chrome’ is a misspelling of ‘chome’, the Japanese word of the area where I lived—Arima 2-chome Park. It descends into chaos at the end. It’s got that hip-hop influence, but it isn’t a track you could necessarily rap over. It’s got all the glitches, and it doesn’t do any of the pop stuff. If I was confident in myself, I’d probably make a record that’s entirely like that—something that doesn’t rely on a snipped-up vocal or something. In my head, ‘Chrome’ is the ideal track of what I like about electronic music.” “Joni’s Room” “Joni is my eldest daughter, and her bedroom is the nicest room in the house. Every time I’m in there, I feel really calm. This track was originally part of the album that never was, plucked from that. It’s the one that has the least amount of Gold Panda in it; it’s a more synthesiser-led track. It’s a nice ending, and it doesn’t really fit anywhere else in the record. It’s leading onto maybe the next record—it’s a departure from the rest of the tracks in terms of texture.”

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