Months ago we had a meaningful conversation with one of the electronic bands from Australia, Panama. And with this, we share with all of you the story beyond the music that could truly win our hearts. Let’s now have a conversation with Jarrah McCleary and Tim Commandeur as they talk about their music, inspirations, and dreams as a band and as individuals.
Conversations of Us: First tell us something about the band and how did it form/what inspired you to start?
Jarrah McCleary: Since I was 17, I've played in loads of bands of really different styles. I started writing music for Panama when I was about 28. It wasn't a conscious thing at all though. I was writing music and fronting a band at the time called 'The Dirty Secrets' and I had written a whole bunch of new tracks that I hoped would become an album for that band. As it turned out, my style had evolved and the music was a lot more electronic and less indie pop than the style of Dirty Secrets. The change in musical direction, along with a few members moving on to other projects, meant that it made a lot more sense to create a whole new band then continue with the previous one. Thus, Panama began. It started as a four piece, grew to a six piece at one point and now we tour as a two piece. I've enjoyed seeing it grow and change and am really proud of where we are now.
CoU:Who or what are your inspirations in continuously creating your good music?
JM: Thanks! Umm...well I try to listen to new music as often as I can. I know a lot of people say that listening to other musicians is problematic because you worry about copying elements of what they have done. I agree with that but I think that more so, other artists can really inspire you to try new things and we're always at risk of writing music that sounds like something someone else has done before. Besides listening to new music, I find nature really inspiring. When I'm feeling a bit creatively stunted, I find a good hike or a trip out of the city really recharges and inspires me.
CoU: As of now, do you both have a city that captured your heart and may have inspired you to write your music?
Tim Commandeur: You would be hard pressed to travel the world and not find inspiration for creation. I think we both made a strong connection with Berlin and Barcelona where dance music is so prevalent in the culture. Definitely somewhere I'd like to spend more time exploring what their music scenes have to offer.
CoU: What is your favourite part during live shows or your live performances?
TC: My favourite part is when you have that connection with the crowd where they are so locked in to the beat and the whole room is moving as one and the energy is ecstatic. And it's always pretty special to see thousands of people singing the words back to you!
CoU: Who is the singer/band that you dream of collaborating with someday?
JM:In an ideal world, I'd love to collaborate with James Murphy from LCD Soundsystem. We can all dream, I guess.
CoU: Are we expecting for a new album from
the band? JM:Yes, hopefully soon too! We're still very much in a production phase but hopefully we will be releasing some new music over the next few months.
CoU: Share with us your pre-show playlist if you have one.
TC: We like to keep things as upbeat as possible. Currently it's bands like Poolside, Classixx, Holy Ghost!, Darius and Julio Bashmore that are making the pre-show playlist cut.
CoU: Do you have a dream place or city or festival that you've always wanted to perform?
TC:I think Coachella is on every bands list to perform, so fingers crossed for that one! I'd also love to travel South America and explore that part of the world while playing music. Mexico is high on my list.
CoU: We know that Tim Commandeur is from another band too before, Colour Coding, and Jarrah McCleary started the band too with other band members. What made the two of you decided to continue music together and stick with Panama as a duo?
TC: Yes, we've both had our fair share of bands and I (Tim) continue to dabble in other projects (Mainly ‘Commandeur'), while Jarrah's sole focus now is Panama. The band has been through many phases with different members, but as the show refined over the years, it became evident that Panama works best as a duo. With too many members, it over complicated a lot of things and took away from the dance element that we were trying to create live.
CoU: Do both of you have solo careers besides Panama? If so, does that affect the growth of Panama or does it help in creating music for the band?
TC: Panama is Jarrah's brain child which see's him take on all facets of the band. This allows me the time to pursue my own creative ideas outside of Panama which include my own project "Commandeur" and drumming for other local Sydney acts. I don't think it affects the growth of Panama in a negative way, rather, it helps enhance how we can approach our live show by drawing influence from other acts and experiences that we're involved in.
CoU: Most of your music videos are truly unique and seems to be like a narrative, who decides on the treatment of those and do you have an inspiration for those videos?
JM:Admittedly, the ideas for the videos does not come from me at all. All three film clips are definitely come from the genius that is 'A Nice Idea Everyday'. The film clips don't necessarily express the thoughts and words of the songs that they accompany but rather tell their own story and use the emotions of the songs to inform them.
CoU: What are you most excited about for the future of the band?
JM:The next few releases, I'm really really excited about. I can't wait to put them out there for people to listen and share in them. I'm also really excited for our future tours together with our new music! I love touring so just getting out there with Tim (our drummer) and Matt (our sound engineer/ touring manager) and exploring new places, is something I can't wait to continue doing.
CoU: Lastly, give us one line or even a song from your band that you truly want to share to everyone to inspire them with their daily lives.
JM: Maybe a line from 'Always'. I love the part of the song that says,
'And you, such a fearless soul. Disarmed me by truth and broke my mould'.
I think those words really highlight how important our relationships with each other are and how it is ok to lean on someone else for help and guidance.
Can’t get enough of Panama? You could visit them on these sites: