Why Manchester is the new creative epicentre of neo-soul and hip-hop
I first met Suren Seneviratne, the guy behind My Panda Shall Fly, at a party at Heaven, where he was played syrupy, outrageously slow-tracks to a room full of bemused students on the pull. Part of Lucky PDF, a really swinging art collective based out of Peckham, south London, his tracks take the rather grey tones of this post-whatever boom and mould them into something ruder, brighter, funner, bursting with the rude flash of UK garage and the twitchy energy of every night you’ve ever been on form. On Monday, he released his first EP, ‘Sorry I Took So Long’ on Dam Mantle’s Growing imprint, and we blasted him some questions so he could introduce himself.
What’s your name?
Sirius the Great aka KRAK4000 aka My P@nda $hall F1y
How old are you?
I dunno. In my twenties I think.
Where do you live?
South east London – the place to be! REPRESENT! SE5 crew! various hand signs
What do you sound like?
it sounds as if a young guy standing on a stage maybe in a grey suit possibly with a guitar singing but then starts moving/shaking crazy for a moment then goes back to singing normally. and if people behind him are playing instruments dressed in possibly burlesque/circus clothes, and then a voodoo doll appears which is white and animated and starts dancing and the guy in the suit dances like him.
How do you record?
In the nude*
What other musical and non-musical stuff have you done?
I have trained as a fine artist at the prestigious Goldsmiths College, London. I also used to play drums really badly as a teen in a couple of pop-punk bands. Those times were actually hilare.
Who are your heroes?
– Dalai Lama – As an exemplar of the compassionate ideal and for living a compassionate life against all odds
– Otto von Bismarck – For his grasp of politics and his ability to play the long game and stay the course
– Carl von Clausewitz – For his grasp of strategy
and Wolverine, because he has adamantium claws that come out of his fists. And because he’s the best at what he does.
What have you put out so far?
My most recent release is in fact my first release, aptly titled “Sorry I Took So Long” because I spent a long time making music but much to my friends’ dismay. That’s why it is called that. Other than that there a bunch of remixes and stuff I have done previously which are sure to be loitering the interwebz.
What’s your next release?
I cannot really say at this point, but we are talking to a few different people about the next thing and it is very exciting. Im very happy.
When are you next playing?
I think there is a launch party for Alphaville festival coming up soon. That’s going to be really good. The festival itself sounds amazing and is in September at some point with people like Actress and Subeena performing live. Also expect My Panda Shall Fly to be playing “live”.
You’re a member of perennially fun firm LuckyPDF. Can you tell our readers about you lot, and how did it feed into your music?
I haven’t been able to particpate in recent Lucky.PDF frolics as of late due to my music overload and other commitments – but they have been all over the place recently; from shows and events in Venice, Stockholm and Tate Modern, to a live TV show coming up at the Barbican.
You grew up in Sri Lanka. How did that influence your music, and could you recommend some good old and new Sri Lankan music?
It’s quite fun because remembering back to my time there, basking in the all-year summer sun, flirting with all sorts of exotic beast, eating tropical fruits straight out of the tree – the traditional music from Sri Lanka is really uptempo and fast. There is a genre called Baila which is most popular and it has a strange rhythm, nothing like anything I’ve heard since. I must make it a point to maybe experiment with some of these grooves – and get M.I.A involved.
You’re putting out on Dam Mantle’s label. How did that come about, and why did you trust him to birth your tracks?
He’s such a great guy, his music is so interesting and creative and goes really deep. I only found out recently but he told me he records prettty much all the parts in played live on synths, keyboards, drum machines etc, and then messes around with them on a sequencer. And I think thats a big part of the sound he manages to create – intense, atmospheric and twisted.
He had been a fan of my earlier work and my manager sent him some stuff, he liked it, he said he’d like to put it out on his new label Growing and gave me $60,000. I would have been a fool to refuse. It has all been uphill since then _
*My next record is also going to be called ‘In The Nude’.