Featured Artist: Pandafan
Submitted by Kira Grunenberg
The moment and overall circumstances surrounding the time Pandafan first came onto my radar was was probably the most serendipitous of settings someone simply wearing the hat of “music fan” for the night could ask for: It was a warm, mildly humid summer night, inside of a fairly new, intimate little record shop that touted a love for live performance through open mic nights amidst racks of well loved vinyl and colorful lights. If that vision isn't uncommon enough, given the lineup of electrified and high energy bands that were flexing their open mic muscles thus far, to see a trio with fiddle, mandolin, acoustic guitar, and keyboard in tow is almost enough to give one pause on its own. Then to follow that up with comforting and friendly folk sounds helped Pandafan stick out in my mind for more reasons than one.
A trio that combines the threads of established friendship, ingrained musicianship, and an appreciation for many artists far outside their influences from the contemporary folk cannon of Fleet Foxes, First Aid Kit, Little Green Cars, and The Decembrists, Pandafan provides an oasis of sorts whenever I listen to their songs. It takes almost no time at all to hear how Delaney Hafener (Guitar/Accordion/Keyboard/Bass/Vocals), Grace DeNatale (Violin/Percussion/Vocals), and Stella Emmett (Vocals) internalize their admiration for these and other bands while bringing their own personal stories and lyrical tendencies to the music they compose.
Some listeners like to keep distance from bands that thrive alongside a reliable and established vein of sound but there's a reason some things take root and stick around. Pandafan's echoing vocal harmonies, vivid narratives, and rustic instrumental arrangements don't look to tilt heads in abrupt shock for shock's sake. Rather, what I think they excel at is commitment to a style of songwriting and creating a body of musical work that could effortlessly get people excited about an entire circle of artists within Pandafan's chosen sonic peers. Moreover, there's something fun about thinking to oneself, “I'm in the mood for harmony heavy folk” and instinctively going to cue up a local band you support who fills that desire, as opposed to a band with whom you have no relationship near that of someone who has sat on a checkered floor and been personally offered a sticker by someone in said band.
Pandafan's newest piece of work, an EP titled, Atlantic Flyways, is due out at the end of this month on April 30, 2016. In the meantime, while everyone waits, take a listen to “Run to Fight,” the lead single and give Pandafan some heart love on GigTown!