"QUITTERS RAGA" is a motherfucker. The most effective, straight-to-the-pleasure-center, instant dopamine drip of a song I've heard in some time. On a system with some bass, it cannot fail.
I crank it for friends. By the time the subs start to buzz and the ascending chorus bursts in, every single listener twists their head in delight to ask, "What is this?"
"Quitters Raga" is like little else I've heard. Sitars and choirs skip in Eastern scales that are down-paced by trunks full of scratchy hiphop thud. It's all then cranked through a futuristic prism, applying a thick gloss and beat-shattering glitch. Derwin, the man behind Gold Panda, chooses to go only by his first name. Reportedly quiet and somewhat stoic, he came up in the UK and recently moved to Germany. His rise is the modern story of blog notoriety.
Derwin, 30, began collecting weird shit and fashioning it into his own singular concoctions around age 15. He was doing remixes as well, which started getting noticed online, and the attention fed back into his original works. The process is rather peaceful.
"First I go record shopping," Derwin writes. "Usually cheap stuff, maybe stuff in the world music section, obscure things with no alphabet [are] always good. Good covers. Take them home, make tea. Listen to them, eat muesli. Find a nice sound I like, usually between half a second and three seconds. Loop it on a sampler and sit there thinking lots. I think that is my main hobby and the bit I enjoy the most."
"Quitters Raga" got nationwide attention, including notice from Ghostly International who went on to release Gold Panda's first full-length, Lucky Shiner, last fall. It's a palatable and simmering mix of beats and atmosphere, though somewhat more traditional than "Quitters."
Performing live is a different proposition, one which Derwin—not to mention the entire community of digital mixing artists—is still feeling out. "I play tracks as 'songs' rather than a DJ set, which is probably quite rare considering the music I'm doing," he writes. "I don't do any 'mixing.' I'm basically performing the tracks as live as possible. The performance changes every time; it's always different and usually something goes wrong."