I am a Panda Bear fan the way you once fell in love. It hit me, it's not going away. (And if you're thinking but I've fallen in and out of love before it's not like that for me :/ Then imagine the way you fell in love with Reese's Cups or Tracy's Dog or something, you know what I'm trying to say.) I'm constantly surprised at what is my seemingly innate ability to get excited by every single thing that Panda Bear produces.
Panda Bear is half the reason I cared at all about Random Access Memories when it was released. When his The Collaborators video dropped, HO bOY~
In all honesty in all the research I've done for this project I still have not rewatched this video yet. I suppose I'm saving it.
To see Panda Bear as a collaborator on this album was insane. As a teenager, I was very big into Animal Collective and Panda Bear's solo music. I didn't know anyone else who was, but that didn't stop me from showing everyone their songs whenever I got the chance. When I first started listening to Animal Collective I had a boyfriend who was a huge music snob. Credit where credit is due, he was the reason I was able to get into music at all, which I'll have to talk about more later to be fair.
He took pride in what he listened to and what he hated. Whenever I showed him Animal Collective, he always pleasured himself in spiking his eyebrows and rolling his eyes. I did have a small victory once; I showed him "Loch Raven" and then was able to catch him trying to sneakily listening to it a few days later, after he had asked to borrow my phone (after he insisted on hating the track).
Whenever people talk about Panda Bear who aren't me, and especially when it's people who aren't um...let's just call it what it is, /mu/ trash, I feel like I've won something. And I know this perspective is warped; at that time, I probably couldn't have learned about Panda Bear if he weren't already critically acclaimed and listened to by millions of people. But Panda Bear on the biggest album release of the decade? I mean I was beyond shocked.
So when it comes to Doin' it Right, I do mean it when I say I can't hear that song. What are you hearing? To me it sounds kinda like if someone attached fire sirens to a vibrator. It's not because the song is THAT good, it's the fact that it's Panda Bear, who I love, part of something that's so unbelievably big. When you go on Panda Bear's Spotify page, his most popular song is Boy's Latin with over 8 million streams. "Doin' it Right" has over 11 times that.
This spike of fame for him has brought forward some odd consequences. While I can't attribute this quote to Panda Bear's participation on Random Access Memories, his reputation as merely a solo electronic musician who is prone to do vocal features led to one of the funniest things I've ever read in my life.
So quick set up for this punchline, Panda Bear produced a track on Solange's album "When I Get Home." It's one of the more popular tracks on the album. There might be more I want to talk about later on how this collaboration came to be, but suffice to say, this collab happened in 2019; six years after Panda Bear's Daft Punk collaboration and, well, 20 years after Panda Bear's debut as a member of Animal Collective.
In a Pitchfork interview with two producers of When I Get Home, John Carroll Kirby and John Key, this exchange occurs:
I remember being on my bed and laughing so hard I joined the cosmos.
Like, this would be the equivalent of saying, wow I didn't know Dave Grohl is a drummer. Or okay maybe that's not fair. Did you know that almost all of the wasabi that is consumed in the world, including in Japan, is actually just dyed horseradish? If you learned something just now, cool! But if you are someone who makes sushi, or is a professional chef at all, and you also just learned something, the fuck is going on?
Yeah, of course he plays the drums. Who did they think he was??
This quote probably points to something important though. I'm the one who doesn't know who Panda Bear is. My relationship to his music is specific and not how most people, even in the music industry I guess, experience him. How did Daft Punk know about him and why did they want him to do only a vocal feature? I'm not sure how much more I can learn from three insanely private musicians, but it's worth a shot.