It’s only just begun for Panama

Panama have been making waves with a sound heavily steeped in sunburn, the scent of coconut and beer drinking on the promenade. After their first single ‘Magic’ dropped to critical acclaim in 2012, Panama snagged the number one spot on Hype Machine with their Dream-pop-loaded 80s throwback single, ‘It’s Not Over’. Their new track is drenched in boozy synths complete with lyrics evoking a melancholic nostalgia for a youth that’s fleeting before your eyes.

Jack Colwell from Something You Said caught up with Jarrah McCleary of Panama to discuss some of the big questions before embarking on their first national tour this February:

Panama, for those who haven’t heard your music before, can you describe your sound to Something You Said? 
“If Peter Gabriel had a love child with Cut Copy and took a lot of MDMA, the result would be PANAMA.”  Vice actually wrote that but I think it’s the best description I’ve heard yet.

Half of your group is made up of founding members of The Dirty Secrets, how did the rest of Panama come to be?
The rest of Panama actually met over the course of a year.  Trevor, our guitarist/percussionist was Cam’s housemate, Lachlan, our drummer, I met at a house party in Sydney. I remember Lachlan showing me his studio, I loved how pumped he was on music.  Tim our sax player I met through a mutual friend a bit later on that year.

What’s the background to ‘It’s not Over’?
It’s really just a stripped back song about the way I was feeling at the time.  The song isn’t hiding behind the production which is always a little scary as you’re bearing your soul that bit more.

Studio or stage? 
Definitely the studio for me, I’m an introvert at heart.

Biggest challenge facing you on the Australian live tour? 
Probably setting up the live show before playing. We’ve got a lot of cables running out to quite a few synths now as we’re not using any backing tracks. It sounds fantastic but it is a lot of work!

What does the future hold for Panama? Any dream collaborations or creative directions? 
At the moment we have this tour we’re going on so that’s exciting.  We’ve also just released an EP and lucky for us the response has been amazing. As far the future is concerned we have some new material in the pipeline that I’m really excited to get out there.  Working with James Murphy would be a pretty amazing dream collaboration!

What’s the best thing and the worst thing about being on tour?
Playing to different crowds in each capital city is definitely the highlight for me.  Each capital city in Australia I think has its own unique vibe. The worst thing about being on tour for me is flying. I’m an extremely anxious person on a plane. However, it definitely beats driving!

Panama is currently listening to…
Recently my girlfriend has been getting me into Purity Ring, that record is a bit of grower. I’ve also just purchased the latest Ariel Pink album and it’s been a great record to take on long drives.

If you’re in Australia, you can see Panama at the following venues in Feb: 

Thurs, 14 Feb – MELBOURNE – The Ripe 1st Birthday @ Workers Club w/ City Calm Down, Collarbones

Fri, 15 Feb – ADELAIDE – Cats @ Rocket Bar w/ special guests 

Sat, 16 Feb – PERTH – Perth Festival w/ Flight Facilities, Mitzi, Scenic + FCDJs 

Fri, 22 Feb – SYDNEY – O-Fest @ UTS w/ Midnight Juggernauts, New Navy, Hermitude + more



Interview by Jack Colwell