Rare bear alert: Be on the lookout for The White Panda, known for bringing the party by mashing up music bits. The animal is armed with thousands of samples and should be considered highly entertaining.Subjects are two 25-year-old males from northern California: Tom Evans uses the alias Procrast, and Dan Griffith is known as DJ Griffi. Both don LED panda masks and use computers to blend music to make the public dance and have a good time.
Case in point: Bearly Legal, the mash-up/remix duo’s fifth disc released online in June.
“We wanted this album to appeal to a larger audience,” Evans wrote in an email interview. “The challenge was to pull samples from all different generations of music and keep it appealing for everyone.”
Imagine Bryan Adams’ “Summer of ’69” and Swedish House Mafia’s “Don’t You Worry Child” melting into each other. Or Dire Straits guitarist Mark Knopfler’s recognizable riff from “Money for Nothing” layered with LMFAO’s “Sorry for Party Rocking.”
And there’s “Boulevard of Heart Attacks,” which marries Green Day and Demi Lovato, while “Modern Reaper” reanimates the Blue Öyster Cult classic courtesy of The Knocks.
“Sometimes you’ll get lucky and can just hear a workable mix in your head. Usually, it’s a lot more trial and error,” Evans explained. “Finding one sample you want to use, like ‘Don’t Fear the Reaper,’ and then mixing it into a handful of combinations with songs of similar tone, cadence, key signature, etc., until you find one that really pops.”
It was Girl Talk’s mash-ups and digital sampling that caught Evans’ ear.
“Hearing Girl Talk’s ‘Night Ripper’ in high school was huge,” he wrote. “I can’t remember the exact mixes, but there was one with [Elton John’s] ‘Tiny Dancer’ and one with ‘Magic’ by Pilot that immediately drew me into mash-ups.”
Evans and Griffith, who have been friends since grade school, started spinning songs together in 2009. Their debut hit big.
“‘What You Know About Little Secrets’ featured Passion Pit and T.I. and was the first song we ever released; it went to No. 1 on Hype Machine,” Evans wrote.
“[A good mash-up] should sound natural. When you hear it, it should sound like the song was written to be recorded and released exactly that way,” he explained. “And it should let you hear recognizable samples in a different light. Maybe you’re tired of hearing an overplayed pop song from the early 2000s, but hopefully our mixes allow you to enjoy it again.”
The two have been on a tear, serving up high-energy smashes on Versus, Rematch, Pandamonium and Bambooyah!
Check out the mix-masters’ music, which is available for free download at thewhitepanda.com.
“We’ve been fortunate enough to have fans that will go out and buy tickets to come see us. It’s kept us going for four years so far,” Evans wrote.
The White Panda has played at Lollapalooza, Bamboozle and Electric Zoo, toured with Wale and Ghostland Observatory, and shared the stage with Tiësto, Benny Benassi and Gym Class Heroes.
“We both run Ableton Live [loop-based software music sequencer and digital audio workstation] and have our mixes broken into their component parts ready to mix,” Evans explained.
“Every show is going to be different in some way, but there are definite commonalities. We know which tracks do the best with live crowds, and we’re going to play those ones every time.”
He added, “Seeing people react to your mixing never gets old.”
Be ready to dance when The White Panda takes the stage Friday, Sept. 13, at 10:30 p.m. to close Music Fest. The free, public event will take place on the Memorial Field House lawn.
Don’t let the cool-looking light-up masks fool you.
“[They’re] incredibly [hot]. It’s a mess up there,” Evans wrote.