Aussie new-wave sensation Panama have been taking the electronic scene by storm. Fronted by Jarrah McCleary, the collective is a follow on from the Northern Territory export’s former band, The Dirty Secrets. Having just collaborated with LA producer Eric Broucek for brand new 3-track EP entitled ‘Always’, Panama have generated some serious hype across the blogosphere and, amongst the madness, we had the privilege of catching up with leading man McCleary. Here’s what he had to say.
You guys are Australian, so what made you choose ‘Panama’ as your name?
Panama is the progression of my last band Dirty Secrets into a new project/style. The name came about after months of angst brought about by trying to find a name that worked with the sound/ wasn’t used by someone else already. We just thought it fit the style of the sound and it had exotic and inspirational connotations. We get lots of love from South America, thanks to the name, which is pretty awesome. Hopefully this means a lot of gigging over there.
Can you tell us a bit about your new EP, ‘Always’? It’s a bit synth, a bit indie and lots of layered vocals…
The EP is a bit of a mix of different sounds that demonstrate the kinds of styles of music that I've been most passionate about in recent years. As well as this, it combines three different themes I felt resonated with me in terms of songwriting. I felt that a lot of the songs I was starting to write had the same kind of emotional feel so I really enjoyed the contrast between the three songs. I really got to nerd out musically on this EP as well as showcase sounds I was passionate about.
Having learnt piano from the age of six, do you think it’s important for musicians to have that kind of classical training?
Yes and no. I feel that it's really helped me in terms of approaching songwriting from different perspectives and using different techniques.
If someone could only listen to one track to ‘get’ what Panama are about, which one would you recommend?
That's a bit of a tough one as all the songs are so different! I guess 'Always' reflects the emotional side of my songwriting the best. I feel that it's probably the easiest song to understand and probably one of the more emotionally authentic songs I feel I have written.
What do you think makes the music market here special – or at least different?
I think the Australian music market is really unique. Australians are very passionate about their homegrown artists and the radio stations here really love to promote them.
What are your hobbies outside of music?
Well... being a redhead in a hot country like Australia, I'm not so much into sport or intense sunshine [laughs]. Studying screen music takes up loads of my time but has very much furthered my passion for films and quality television series. I feel like at the moment, it's kind of difficult to have hobbies as I don't seem to really have any free time. When I do, I'll definitely be getting my lazy self back into basketball.