As one of the founding members of Animal Collective, a solo artist under the Panda Bear moniker who has worked with the likes of Daft Punk and also a father of two, it is understandable that Noah Lennox feels like he is someone who has won the lottery over and over again in his life. But he's not one to sit back and revel in the past, "I feel like if you get into looking back, and thinking about things that you've done, you are sort of killing the drive to move forward. I imagine that I'll do that someday, but not for a while. I'd like to focus on the future, if I can."

And there is much in the future for us to be focusing on, with his highly anticipated new album, playfully entitled Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper, released 12th January and a slew of live dates to accompany them. His latest effort is an expansive sonic journey that is equal parts good fun with an undercurrent of serious and often intense subject matters.

The 405 took some time to get behind the Panda Bear moniker and talk about orange juice in Portugal, the pressures of being a dad, and making an album with the Grim Reaper.

Is there a particular story behind that album title?

It was inspired by a bunch of Dub and Reggae records from the '70s where they'd often have one record producer or musician 'meets' another producer or musician, and it was a way of signalling some kind of collaboration between the two, and I thought the idea of making a record with death was kind of a funny thing. But I also felt that the title presented something that people aren't really inclined to get close to, or interact with. And putting it in a costume that was sort of light and easy, like giving medicine to a kid - when you put sugar in the medicine - it makes it easier for them to deal with it.

That kind of reminds me of 'Come To Your Senses', that 'are you mad?' refrain that comes about again and again, but it's kind of hidden amongst it.

Totally, it's really kind of bouncy and fun, but it's about human fallibility and the potential within us to do horrible things. It helps to realise that we're going to do that stuff, and we're going to have impulses that aren't super-positive and that's ok, but we're also important to learn from our mistakes and that is essentially what the song is about.

How did you even begin to approach this album? There are so many ideas going on, how did you begin to get yourself into that zone?

The first third of any group of songs for me is very much about planning and daydreaming and kind of scheming about the elements used, the equipment used, the way that it's going to be done live, and kind of the overall feeling of the thing, its relation to other stuff that I like, its relation to popular music at the time. There's a lot of thinking involved at the beginning for me. Then as soon as I get my hands dirty and actually making sounds, I try to remove that part of the equation as much as I can. Just because I feel that after that point it's not really useful. And I'd rather just try and feel stuff out and make decisions more based on instinct or feelings.

You've also said that the album has been a way of kind of ending something, and starting something new, could you expand on that?

It's something that I did not really consider until more recently, but it kind of feels like the closing of a cycle that started two albums ago. Or it feels like the closing to that chapter, and strangely I feel like it's also the third part of a three part story, but it also feels a microcosm of that whole story... I wanted to have a bigger perspective in terms of the lyrics. In the past, it was kind of my aim to write a diary or be a bit more introspective about that stuff in the hopes that would be useful to somebody else in some form.

But, I feel like the past couple of years - and I would assume that having children would be a part of that movement for a person - but, I felt like introspection is, as an exercise, a good thing up to a point, but there is a threshold where moving beyond that introspection there is self-obsession, or narcissism, so wanting to shift years as far as that is concerned and the songwriting and the lyrics, was an important new thing for me. And also, the usage of drum breaks, I think it's safe to say that there a hip-hop kind of edge to a lot of the songs, and feeling comfortable in that arena is something new I guess you could say.

Do you think that having kids has changed the way that you see yourself as a musician in any way?

I'm sure there's all kind of subconscious things going on that I don't know about or am not super aware of. But it's difficult to talk about. The one thing I do feel very hyper aware of is the necessity of doing every show that I can and making sure everything that I do, I do with as much attention and care that I possibly can. Everything, obviously with the job, takes on a greater import when you have other people who depend on it. It's kind of like I'm not the only one who suffers anymore if I fuck it up.

The latest single 'Mr Noah' came out last year, and the video was put together with AB/CD/CD, how much input did you have with the making of the video?

I had quite a bit of input this time around. When we made the song, we were looking around for video directors and had a bunch of different treatments submitted and I like videos that have a very simple trick or visual gimmick. I don't know if you've ever seen the Justice video with the t-shirts? That's kind of the perfect video to me... So, they had this idea of like looping and visual repetitions, because they felt that in the song - and I agreed - that there is a lot of revisiting of various passages and certain words get repeated a lot, so I liked their idea for the video a lot. My input was just to make it more and more loopy and make it more visually overwhelming.

Obviously, you live in Lisbon now. Do you think that way of life has rubbed off on you at all?

I was talking with my lady this morning, because she was having orange juice and it's a thing in Portugal that if you order an orange juice, there is always like someone who takes the oranges and makes the juice or that machine they have where they kind of crank them. But it's never like in America, or other places where they just have it out of the bottle. And I was thinking to myself that that is a good representation of a lot of the things that I like about Portugal. The fact that they would never consider bottling orange juice, that's just not the way it's done... How that makes its way into the music, it's difficult for me to say. But, I'm a big believer that as a creative person, you can't resist the process of your environment that you experience on a daily basis kind of being reflected in the things that you make.

One more thing, what was it like working with Daft Punk on 'Doin' It Right' ?

Really good!

How did it come about?

Very slowly. I'd been a big fan of them since their first album, and really loved everything that they had done. So we did a song called 'My Girls' that we were looking for remixers, and I figured that it was impossible, but just as a shot in the dark, I suggested them as remixers. And they said that they liked the song, but they weren't really into doing remixes any more, and they wouldn't be interested in doing that. Then I did a record called Tomboy, and for a song called 'Last Night at the Jetty' I tried again... I just wanted to see if something had changed. I hope I wasn't rude about it. And they said again, they didn't want to do remixes, but maybe some day in the future we could make something together.

And then, Thomas came to a show of mine in Paris, and then a couple months after that, he said that they were working on some new music, and they were hoping to collaborate with a bunch of different people and maybe they had something that maybe we could try and do something together on. I went to Paris for three days the next Spring and cranked it out. My persistence paid off in the end.


Panda Bear's new album, Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper, is out on January 12th via Domino Records. Read our review of it by heading here.