“Hey Panda” by The High Llamas

Northern Transmissions Song of the Day is "Hey Panda" by The High Llamas
High Llamas photo by Simon Russell

The High Llamas, is the project of songwriter/producer/arranger Sean O’Hagan. They recently announced their new album, Hey Panda, will drop on March 29, 2024 via Drag City. along with the news, the group has released the title-track single.Discussing the “Hey Panda” single, O’Hagan notes, “I spent lock down and recovery as a TikTok fan of a Panda bear who ate giant carrots every day. It made me so happy. I think as crazy as TikTok is, it also fosters a community, especially between us and animals… not sure if the animals know. I wanted it to be a Khalid meets Disclosure tune. The subs picking up every beat. But as it’s High Llamas… the key changes are there…sorry.”

Discussing the project as a whole, O’Hagan adds, “I’m 64. Have made 40 records. Scored 8 films. And arranged for many. I love the pop aesthetic, especially the fresh and the naive. When I heard J Dilla in the early 2000s, I thought that was the great renewal of contemporary pop production. I did not have the language or skill set to go there. I was also afraid of being judged. So I avoided, or only hinted at this sound. I’m mainly an invisible contributor to music in my day job. I probably have one artistic record left at 64. So this record had to address what I have come to love. Dilla reshaped the world. We live in the finest non judgemental musical times where the legacies of soul, jazz and lo fi indie have produced a hybrid of generous and stunning creativity. I want ‘Hey Panda’ to be of this generation.”

Choosing not to look backward to former golden ages celebrated in earlier Llamas eras, Sean instead found himself opened up by the sounds of music brought into the house by his adult children and the sounds encountered at sessions for which he’s recently written arrangements. In addition to the more traditional contributions he made to The Coral’s 2023 Sea of Mirrors album, plus his score for the Safdie Brothers’ 2022 film production, Funny Pages, Sean’s drawn great inspiration through working with Fryars, Rae Morris, King Krule, Pearl and The Oysters, while also soaking up the work of Tierra Whack and Chicago’s Pivot Gang, and being cheered on from a distance by long-time admirer Tyler, The Creator.

Hey Panda aided by two co-writes from Bonnie “Prince” Billy (who bonded with Sean over a shared love of gospel soul during writing sessions) on “How The Best Was Won” and “Hungriest Man”, guest vocals from Rae Morris and Sean’s daughter Livvy, additional production twists from Fryars, and the stalwart, flexible presence of High Llamas.

The High Llamas
Hey Panda
Drag City

01. Hey Panda
02. Fall Off The Mountain
03. Bade Amey
04. Sisters Friends
05. How The Best Was Won
06. The Grade
07. Yoga Goat
08. Stone Cold Slow
09. Toriafan
10. Hungriest Man
11. The Water Moves
12. La Masse

Pre-order Hey Panda by The High Llamas HERE


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