Record Label: Ghostly International
“I didn’t want to write ‘beats,’” says UK producer Gold Panda, “I didn’t want bangers. I wanted songs with structure.” And yet, despite the artist’s protests to the contrary, his 2010 debut album, Lucky Shiner, is full of bangers - of a kind. “Lots of factors affected the way it came together,” he explains, “touring, mixing, moving houses and splitting with a girlfriend. Family, friends, and lovers, places I’ve never been.” It’s that mix of directness and emotion that characterizes Lucky Shiner, an album of beat-driven electronic music that’s easy to fall in love with, and to. In Gold Panda’s world, vinyl-static beats and heart-on-sleeve melancholia collide, and the results are breathtaking.
Lucky Shiner was mixed by Simian Mobile Disco’s James Shaw and recorded in two sessions at a shady retreat in the English countryside - Gold Panda’s aunt and uncle’s Essex home. As GP explains, “They went away over Christmas for two weeks and asked me to look after their dog. I’d walk Daisy in the morning and then make tunes till she pestered me to take her out again. I’d bounce down what I’d done, stick my headphones on and walk her, get ideas, and repeat the process.”
Decamping to an idyllic retreat means the album bears trademarks of a pastorally hued Englishness; GP’s two years spent studying Japanese culture, language, and history at the School of Oriental and Asian studies in Japan also find their way into the music. Opener and lead single “You” slinks along with a stuttering vocal sample and teary-eyed chord changes in tow; “Snow & Taxis” sounds like prime dancefloor fodder, but its cloudy string samples and chiming bells situate its melancholy closer to M83 than anything else; and the deconstructed hip-hop of “After We Talked” employs a minimal, lo-fi drum machine and an array of ever-so-gently bitcrushed synths.
And the title’s origins? “Lucky Shiner is my grandmother’s name. Sometimes I think she knows exactly how I feel without me even mentioning anything to her.” And while Lucky Shiner is clearly a deeply personal album for Gold Panda, the producer insists upon inviting the listener into his emotional world. “It would be nice if people could hear the tracks and attach their own significance to them,” he says.
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Joseph Abajian (DJ Jab) founded Fat Beats in 1994 with nothing more than a shoestring budget and an earnest obsession with the music, the culture, and the brotherhood of New York’s burgeoning rap scene. What began as a simple vinyl shop in Manhattan’s Lower East Side quickly became an integral hub for artists, both aspiring and established, to convene and collaborate on new projects. Joseph’s timing couldn’t have been more impeccable. When the 90’s cultural zeitgeist – and, in turn, the music industry establishment – chose hip-hop as its new arbiter of cool.
International tourists and touring artists alike flocked to Fat Beats for rare vinyl, kindred spirits, and exclusive in-store performances from Jay Z, Eminem, Gang Starr, Outkast, Slum Village, Mos Def, and more. One thing was clear: the Fat Beats phenomenon could no longer be contained in a single basement shop.
In the late nineties, Abajian proceeded to open new stores in Amsterdam, Tokyo, Los Angeles, and Atlanta. He further expanded the company’s profile to include global distribution and record label branches. Distribution has since proven to be the company’s strongest and most enduring enterprise. Today Fat Beats Distribution stands poised as one of the country’s pre-eminent distributors of vinyl & specialty item records: a proud survivor in an industry now famous for its mortality rate. Despite market fluctuations, technology innovations, and stylistic revolutions, Fat Beats has remained steadfast in its commitment to the timeless vinyl format and to the loyal community who keeps it spinning.
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