Interview with Pandit

2010 saw a lot of shoegaze/chillwave artists coming to the forefront so it won’t be long before the mainstream gets its hot sweaty fingers on it and turns it into something ugly (look what happened to electro). It’s up to us, the little music blogs and zines, to highlight those that are making the good stuff so you don’t have to wait until everyone catches on and starts ruining it.

We are enjoying this current wave of chilled out music and in particular the beautiful creations by Lance Smith a.k.a Pandit. Cat On The Wall’s Jo Whitby caught up with Lance via email who very kindly took some time out to give us some really insightful answers…

Cat On The Wall: First up, for those of our readers who have yet to discover Pandit, could you introduce yourself? What first got you into music?

Lance Smith: My name is Lance Smith. I was born and raised in a tiny little town in south Texas. I went to a local college where I ended up with a degree in audio engineering and commercial music. I’m 24 years of age.

Music has always been the love of my life. My mother played piano for countless churches. When the doors opened, I was always there. I think since my mom was such an avid piano player, I naturally got into playing and writing music at such an early age. The area in which I grew up in at one time was really booming as far as the musician’s that it birthed. Janis Joplin was from here, as well as The Big Bopper and a couple of really great jazz musicians. My parents were both children of the 60’s, so I grew up constantly hearing the sound’s of that era throughout my household. Even though I was always in and out of church, I couldn’t get enough of The Beach Boys or The Rolling Stones, just to name a few. I resorted to albums like ‘Pet Sounds’ and ‘Sticky Fingers’ as my own personal religion in a way. I worshiped the song writing of Brian Wilson and the way he composed those brilliant pop classics. It helped me to find out who I was and inevitably brought me to where I am now as far as being a singer/songwriter goes. I think just being amazed and in awe by how those song’s took me to a different place. A different mindset if you will. That was what initially got me hooked. Just by how powerful a song could be. I wanted to create the same epic feeling that I got from a Beach Boys album and put my own spin on things. I believe that is what first got me into music. To know that I could create the same thing, but make it my own and know that it came from my own two hands.

COTW: Can you tell us about your new album ‘Eternity Spin’? Was there a concept behind it? How long did it take to record and did you have any help?

LS: ‘Eternity Spin’ was an album I wrote over about a span of six months. I had a couple of the song’s in mind a year or so ago, but never really went any further with them. I like albums that constantly change and never stay the same as far as how they play out. Sure, I love concept albums, but I love it when the next song throw’s you for a loop. It isn’t the same exact song as the last track. I like to keep people on their feet and make every song an experience. I honestly feel that this album has something for everyone. It’s been called a “massive genre jump” of a record. I would have to agree with that.

There isn’t any concept behind the album, except for the fact it’s very romantic and heart breaking. Or at least that is how I feel about it. ‘Pack Your Bags’ for instance was about this relationship I was in that ended horribly. Sure it’s a stereotypical story, but it’s something we as human’s can all relate to. I enjoy writing about personal experiences and mainly just material that any and everyone can understand and appreciate. The album itself took about three months or so to actually record. A long time friend of mine, Adam Floyd, helped out on ‘Pack Your Bags’. As far as the rest of the album goes, it was all done by myself. I’m a real control freak when it comes to writing and recording. Something that I think I will have to get over one of these days. I would eventually like to work with more people during the process of creating an album, but for the time being I enjoy that power. To know that most everything was done by myself. I take a personal satisfaction in that for some reason.

COTW: What is your creative process when composing songs? What inspires you musically and lyrically?

LS: I believe everything inspires me. Whether it be my family or my friend’s or my girlfriend, Leslie. I spend a lot of time outside. I live on a nice piece of property out in the woods, and I honestly think that has a massive amount of reason to how or why I write what I write. For ‘Eternity Spin’ it was mostly about past relationships but that only has to do with the lyrical side of things for the most part. The instrumentation would have to do with my love for catchy, classic pop music. The upbeat track’s on the album are most likely about a falling apart between two people, though the composition may give off that vibe that things are beginning to look up. Or “I know there are better days ahead”. I tend to watch people quite closely. I feed off of people’s personal lives. That has quite a bit of reasoning to how I compose the songs.

Every day life though has a large influence as to how I’m inspired. I might hear a song I haven’t heard in a really long time and it instantly jolt’s me into a writing frenzy. The same goes for a movie I might see or something precious my girlfriend might do or say. Again, everything inspires me. I keep my eyes open and my ears clean. I never know when I might get an idea or a hint of inspiration.

COTW: How did the video for ‘Pack Your Bags’ come about and what was it like to work with Tyler T Williams?

LS: It was maybe four to five months ago when I began searching for someone to take on the project of doing a music video for one of my songs. I knew of Tyler due to his work with Coma Cinema. After watching his insane ability to capture people’s emotions, I instantly knew that this was the guy I wanted to work with. After contacting Tyler, we began talking on a regular basis. It began with emails and led to us having hour long conversations on the phone. We just had that “I feel like I’ve known you for year’s” type of relationship. I consider him a very close friend, although we haven’t met in person yet.

After talking out various ideas for the ‘Pack Your Bags’ video, Tyler began work on what ended up as this monster of a masterpiece. I was expecting amazing, and ended up getting magnificent and brilliant. Tyler’s never satisfied when it comes to how his videos turn out. I think we both have that in common. We both strive for excellence. I think that is what keeps us going though in what we both do. We never feel just satisfied with what we create. We know we can better. In Tyler’s defence though, the man is a genius. He makes everything feel so personal when you’re
not only talking with him, but working with him as well. He keeps the vibe positive and comfortable. I feel honoured to be able to call him my friend.

COTW: You’re going to hit the road this year, do you have an idea of where you’ll be touring? Have you performed live before and if so how do you know when you’ve had a good gig?

LS: As of the moment, I’m hoping to possibly do a small Texas to New York tour right after SXSW in March. I’m also working on heading to Europe in April to do a month long tour. I’ve performed only a handful of times with the songs I am currently pushing, but so far everything has really turned out amazing. I feel very confident in both my setup and my ability to pull off the songs in a live environment.

I can instantly tell when the performance is at its peak. I focus in on how the people are reacting to it and that is normally how I base what I should keep working on and even change. I want to offer up a friendly and fun performance, but allow people to be able to step out of their own environment and really get into what is going on. They paid their hard earned money to see what it is I love doing, so I want to give back to them what they came to see. Hopefully if anything, people will leave the venue feeling energetic and just straight up in great spirits.

COTW: What’s the inspiration behind the artwork for ‘Eternity Spin’? Is visual representation important to you as an artist or would you prefer to leave it to someone else?

LS: I’ve always been really into space for some reason. The unknowing I guess of what’s out there has intrigued me for as long as I can remember. I think it really fit quite well with the concept I was going for with my music. The ever changing sounds throughout the album come to play on the artwork I believe with all the atmospheric colours and uncertainty. It allows the viewers to look at it and question just what might entail on this album.

The reason for the tiger’s head was an alt persona I guess of how I envision myself. When I write and record these song’s, I know I am not myself when that takes place. A few people have asked me if it was because of my Indian heritage. It might very well have something to do with that, but I think for the most part it has to do with who I am at that moment. The tiger represents my energy and just downright passion for wanting to make music. Much like how a tiger might act when he’s on the prowl, hunting for food or being the king of his domain. I want to be the very best at what I do, which is creating music. I don’t feel that I’m better than anyone else. I don’t place myself in a competition like some people might. I merely want to create what I feel happy making and hope to share that with whoever will listen.

I hope people will leave it up to interpretation at the same time though and get whatever they might feel from it. The same goes for the music itself. Where I look at the album as this romantic heart break, someone else might interpret it as a hopeful ode to life. Whatever it may be, I want people to just take in and leave it up to their own ideas.

COTW: Finally, what are your plans for the near future?

LS: Currently I’m mastering a couple of albums for a few friends. I’m also working on the next album as well and hoping to make it hundred time’s better than ‘Eternity Spin’. At the same time, I’ve been working nonstop on my live show. Really trying to just have fun with the whole experience and learn to not take things for granted. As far as the future goes, I would really like to see myself working with other artists. Not just in the studio, but live performances as well. Even if there comes a day when I no longer want to make records, at least I can somehow give back to other people. Whether that be producing or engineering, or playing for someone. All I know is that music is my life. I want to be doing this till the day I either cannot stand up, or I take my last breath. I want to have fun while I can. And hope to reach as many people as I can with my music.!/musicpandit

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