The lessons we need learn about ourselves often echo and chase us no matter where we go.

Our friends and family can offer solid reassurance yet there are times we will continue to behave and feel a certain way about ourselves that is not a reflection of our true self. No matter how many times we're told that "You are good enough" or "You do make great work", we can insist on believing the opposite as fact. Still, if we're lucky enough, we can encounter rare moments or strangers who can frame a notion, which we may have heard all our lives, in such a way that it finally makes sense.

During his trip in Japan with photographer Laura Lewis, Derwin Panda (the artist behind Gold Panda) took a taxi in their journey through Hiroshima. As they were leaving the car, the driver exclaimed, "Good luck and do your best." The kindness and simplicity of his sentiment as they parted struck Derwin. It challenged Derwin's self-doubt of his music and allowed him to let go of what he felt he should create, rather than what he wanted to do.

In his interview with Andrew Darley, the electronic artist explains how he previously felt ashamed of his bright-sounding pop perspective compared to the experimental electronic world. Good Luck And Do Your Best is a musical travel log of his time in Japan that embraces its culture, the weather, its people and everyday life while Lewis instilled their travels in photography. However, more importantly, Derwin's third record shows a certainty and ownership of his unique aesthetic in electronic music.


The title of your new record comes from what a taxi driver said to you leaving the car in Japan. Why do you think that phrase struck so much of a chord with you?

It was because it was positive and motivational. I've wanted my music to be serious, dark and techno - and it isn't. I think I was embarrassed about it. It was a nice sentiment and that made me think "this is the music I make" and I should be confident about it.

On previous records, were trying to will yourself in a particular direction?

This record is less trying to be something and more about whatever I make and being okay with it.

The album has a comforting, almost reassuring, energy. Was this something you intended?

I wanted it to be happy and motivational because a lot of electronic music is dark. It's clever to be serious in electronic music and I think that's wrong. Everything is focused on being the end-times and that everything is fucked, which may be true, but it's okay to have a positive outlook on certain things. You can make a good and uplifting pop record and there's nothing wrong with it. I think the reason why dark, experimental music sometimes gets reviewed as being good because if you say it isn't you're told that you don't understand it.

I've read reviews of recent electronic albums and I can't hear what the reviewer is raving about. The music itself feels disconnected.

I think the concept can be much bigger than the execution. The execution of the music fails on those albums because it tries to be futuristic. For me, it sounds dated. My music is nostalgic; I like the '90s and its production techniques so I've stuck with them. A lot of music that I hear which is meant to be forward-thinking and futuristic sounds like a bad version of techno records that were innovative in the late '90s early 2000's. It's already been achieved.

As listeners, have we become complacent in what to expect of music?

It's hard to say. There's a lot of concept in music now and people love a good album story. People miss the fact that the music is not there. I don't want to be impressed by a concept, production technique or read some pseudo-intellectual rubbish, I just want to enjoy the music. A lot of music that is informed by this post-internet age fails because it doesn't sound fresh.

The more aloof an artist appears, the better the review is because their concept is deemed intangible and intelligent when often the music doesn't reflect that at all.

I agree. We end up talking about what the album is about rather than what the actual music it sounds like.

You've mentioned 'pop music' which can be a dirty term in the more serious electronic world. How do you see your music fitting?

I make electronic music that's more easily digested. It's not pure pop music but it has memorable melodies and song structures. Maybe it's because I like songs, I don't know? I'm more inspired by creating an atmosphere, particularly the calmness of Japan.

When Charli XCX sampled 'You' for her song, did it expose your music to wider pop listeners?

I don't think people really care what the original is. They just like Charli XCX. I don't know whether it made any difference because she wasn't that famous when it was released. I met Charli and we went for dinner in Berlin. At first I didn't want to do it but was happy to do it after I met her. What I like is that she was confident in her Spice Girls-fandom and pop tune writing which was endearing.

You brought a photographer Laura Lewis with you to document your journey in Japan. How did envision photography could add to your work?

I wasn't able to capture the visual side of things before. I gave myself more time with this album to guide how the artwork would be. We have a similar eye for capturing mundane, suburban life in Japan, which is interesting to us but boring to a Japanese person I would assume.

What is about Asian culture that you identify with?

Japan has this calming effect on me, although I tend to drink and eat way too much when I'm there! I've been over 20 times now. It's become a constant inspiration for me.

Was the calmness of Japan something you were seeking in your personal life?

I think it's about coming to terms with who I am and the music I make. I don't think I'm Gold Panda - I think it's a separate entity and I make records that fits within that sound. Any music that takes more than a day never works because it's forced and sounds contrived. When I'm just fucking around with equipment is when the best stuff happens and feels like it's someone else making it. That might be why I feel Gold Panda isn't exactly me. This record is about the calmness found in just accepting things. As much as I'd like to make an experimental techno record I can't force it because it would be insincere and probably shit.

You recorded it in England at home in Chelmsford. Does recording something retrospectively give the music a different perspective?

I think you get to reflect on it. When you're away everything is happening so quickly that you just remember fragments. You have to work out what you saw. When I got back I printed out all the photos Laura took and I stuck them up around the room I was making music in so I had a direct visual. We're doing a book as well which should be out this summer.

Has it become easier to translate images and places into music?

I think it's become harder actually. When I made the first record I wasn't really thinking about it and it just happened. With this one I had a long time to think about the artwork and the visuals - I had more time to consider everything. There are no moments on the album that make me cringe like the last two. I feel happy to listen to this one.

Has there been musicians who have influenced you, not necessarily musically, but in their work ethic and way they create?

Luke Abbot, who mixed the record, is a source of inspiration. He was good in making me confident in what I was doing rather than worrying about trying to be clever or having an exciting production. He taught me that the way you make music is never going to sound like anyone else, which is a blessing. You can't make someone else's music. We both knew we wanted to make a warm, summery pop record that could be enjoyed and nice to listen to. It's not harsh or mixed or mastered in a way that makes your eyeballs swell or ears hurt. I guess it may be a bit wimpy or lame but it's a happy, easy-listening record that is supposed to be enjoyable and there's nothing wrong with that.

Good Luck And Do Your Best is out now.