Raw Panda is at heart a story of a growing network of friends freely making music in the form of a simplistic, yet bountiful and boundless, collective. Raw Panda Records introduces Pensacola to the various members of this unique artist collective through its tangible product, “Raw Panda: Volume 1.”
The collection of tracks showcases the wide range of Raw Panda talent in an assortment of configurations. Featured talent ranges from less familiar, and even undiscovered acts, to bands and members of said bands that have played around town for months and even years, from dive bars to festivals.
The album begins with a recognizable track from Paloma and closes out with Precubed, the ambient solo project of Aaron Finley, member of both Paloma and Imaginary Airshow. Also in the mix are tracks from the bluesy Chainsaw Kelly as well as solo creations from well-established local musicians Brandon Warren and Aubrey Nichols.
While the album seems to provide a little something for everyone, crossing the lines of numerous genres, above all “Raw Panda: Volume 1” offers the listener something, well, raw.
“If it’s a band that involves humans playing instruments you are going to hear a little ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ rawness,” shares Peterson, audio engineer at Raw Pando Studios and member of Imaginary Airshow. Although Raw Panda Studios exists as its own separate entity, Peterson recorded several of the tracks on the album and is the key driver and foundational element in bringing the Raw Panda vision to life.
What is this vision? Raw Panda seeks to replace the desire for artificial perfection with something real and thoughtful, keeping the music in its truest form.
“If you listen to a Raw Panda CD next to another CD it’s probably not going to be as loud. We’re not trying to force the music down your throat. We like the fact that the music gets quiet then gets loud. We want you to have to listen,” explains Peterson. “The obsession with perfection goes far beyond music. The idea of marketability goes far beyond music. Everything that is polluting music goes far beyond music and these are the things we hope to get away from.”
Raw Panda is certainly an advocate of the increasingly common do-it-yourself mentally. “We are in an exciting age for music when so much can be done with so little. Most people like to listen to music in their room,” said Peterson. “Why not make music in a living room that sounds like it was recorded in a living room. There is a certain charm to it that is a really cool.”
Peterson also believes in the importance of building a strong foundation from the ground up—setting the stage for this growing network of artists to become an even further collaborative effort, extending far past “Volume 1.” In fact, there is already talk of a “Volume 2” in the works. Rumor has it this will be even more of an overlap between the collective’s artists, resulting in a true collaboration album and a total team endeavor.
“We all play together already. Even though it might be really bad marketing to blur all these lines and confuse people even more, to me, that is the thing that makes it so beautiful and has drawn us all together,” Peterson stated.
Though the ties that bind the group together are deeply rooted, some dating back for a number of years, the collective energy behind Raw Panda is fresh, new and in forward motion.
“It’s just going to grow to be bigger and bigger but Pensacola will always be the tie that binds us all together. The thing that makes it all so cool is that all of these different people were able to find each other at this particular time at this place,” said Peterson. “I’ve been waiting a long time for this.”
As far as live performances go, the members of the Raw Panda collective can be spotted around town during weeknights performing solo or with their respective bands most weekends. Additionally, Raw Panda has conducted three inclusive showcases to date, with two more on the calendar set for May 11 and May 25. Both events will take place at the Handlebar. The Raw Panda lineup on Friday, May 11 will consist of Imaginary Airshow, Ashmen (Damien Louviere) and a solo piano set by Joey Allred.
For more information on each of the Raw Panda artists and to listen and download the album, visit Raw Panda’s virtual home at rawpandarecords.bandcamp.com. The album is also available at Revolver Records.
“Raw Panda: Volume 1” Artist List
Pioneers! O Pioneers!
Two People Playing Music