Singled Out: Foxes' The Panda Bear Song

01/19/2012
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Today Adam Bell from Foxes tells us about the evolution of their song "The Panda Bear Song " from their brand new self-titled album, which hit stores this week. As a bonus, Adam shares the evolutionary versions of the song as well! Here is the story:

The first recording was made on the very day Kayla & I came up with the main ideas for the song. We were sitting in our house in Old Road, Oxford with the TV on and there was a shot of a crew in a helicopter filming some polar bears swimming. It was talking about endangered species and I just started singing the lines 'as we fly in the helicopter, watch the bear swimming in the water!' over a few suspended chords that sounded good to me. Somehow a polar bear turned into a panda bear shortly after. As you'll hear from the first recording, there weren't too many lyrics at this stage and we were so excited to get a recording that I didn't bother tuning my guitar. The date of this recording is 18th December 2006. Listen here.

The next recording is a home demo recorded by just Kayla and myself again on 26th September 2007. By this point, we had played the song live with Dan Pacrami (original bassist), who had written the bass intro (played here on a casio keyboard), and the basic structure of the song was down, although the second half of the song was purely instrumental and also lacks a lead guitar line. Listen here.

Al Grice replaced Dan on bass around this time and we went to St John's College in Brighton in December 2007 to record the first full band version of the song. It was produced by Matt Twaites and Ben Elliott from Restlesslist. Matt ended up producing the whole of the album. By now, the song is complete and the 'voice' of the first part of the song is revealed to be Anneka Rice, as Kayla sings "Anneka, can't you see that there's nothing left but the bamboo tree?". Listen here.

We upped the tempo and tried to go hell-for-leather for the album version of the song. Otherwise it was not hugely adjusted from the first studio version, apart from some additional keys and backing vocals. Listen here.

The lyrics have a nice throwaway goofy nursery rhyme feel to them. I liked the idea of putting cutesy animals into an upbeat pop song but having a sub-context of more serious issues as well. It has a light-hearted, fun feel but with a darker undercurrent and as such, perhaps a good song to define how a lot of our songs work. Musically, it crams quite a few ideas into a short space, I don't like to waste any time when songwriting and get bored easily by repetition. Sometimes this causes a jarring first listen as things change all over the place but hopefully, after a few plays, things start to make more sense, that's the plan anyway!

Now that you know the story behind the song, learn more about the band and the album right here!

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