Quality matters and you need quality production and content right from the jump. When I started, I recorded on a mic on my desk at home and released music just like that. It was a mistake. People want to see you put effort into what you love, and being cheap with your production will only get you so far.
As a part of our series about rising music stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Panda$tackz.
Panda$tackz was born in Riverside in 1993. The 27-year-old artist recalls a childhood defined by loneliness. His two siblings were a generation older than him, and his family’s frequent stays in Mexico meant he was always between two worlds. He turned to music for solace and was particularly enamored with the neo-soul music that Scott Storch was creating in the early 2000s for the likes of Beyoncé, 50 Cent, Snoop Dog, Christina Aguilera, Dr. Dre, Pink, and Lil Kim.
It was the nearest thing to a cure for his unhappiness. And then, things suddenly got worse. His father passed away, and with his mom working two jobs to support the family, music became his only outlet. He decided that he would not only turn to music for comfort but began thinking of music as a potential career. In fact, he already was a musician, having mastered the accordion at an early age — a nod to his Mexican roots.
“Most of my music comes from being heartbroken in the past. I pretty much take all that energy and channel it into my songwriting. I feel that a lot of people are going through similar things and can identify with my music,” he says.https://content.thriveglobal.com/media/3968dd8933d88b90eee9f399d952f830
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
Thank you so much for having me! I grew up a little different than most kids — I’m the only boy of 3, and I’m also the youngest, but I was always the problem child. I was born in Riverside, but my parents would take us back and forth between the US and Mexico so often that it’s fair to say I grew up in both places. My parents were always dabbling in business ventures and working, and my two sisters were much older than me. As a result, I was a pretty lonely kid growing up. I definitely felt like the black sheep in my family, which is why I use music as an outlet.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
I’ve always been attracted to music. Growing up, my options were either to take the wrong path and start hanging with the wrong people for attention, or I could find myself a hobby. I was always good at writing, even back when I was in elementary school. I remember that I’d always write poems for girls in my class (which never worked, but still). I started taking everything more seriously after my dad passed away. I never liked school (like, SERIOUSLY hated it), so I knew I had to make something out of myself on my own.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
This career path is nothing if it’s not interesting! Before this, I was ghostwriting and playing regional Mexican music on one of my trips down to Mexico. I was there to record some videos (which went completely wrong in every way possible, by the way), and I ran into a friend at my hotel who invited me to go check out his studio. I didn’t want to go as it was strictly a business trip but ultimately decided to go at the last minute. He introduced me to some people while I was there… long story short, I lost contact with those people only to later run into one of them later on in a whole different part of Mexico. We got to talking, which led to us working together. That person is now my producer Alexxon. It’s a very small world, and I’d say the universe wanted us to link. Now all my hits are made with him.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Oh, this brings back memories. When I first started writing music, I approached the first song I wrote like I was writing a story. I didn’t format it like a song — it was like it was just a random paragraph with no rhymes or really anything that implied it was supposed to be a song. I took it to a producer, and he laughed in my face along with everyone else in the studio. It’s something I learned from, and I made it my mission to never make a mistake as silly as that one again.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
Music, music, music! I can’t be too specific without major spoilers but suffice it to say I have some very cool things in the works. I’m just going to have to make y’all wait and see! I have some heat coming for sure, though — I’m definitely sitting on some future hits. I have a track dropping just in time for Valentine’s Day you won’t want to miss, and I plan to keep ’em coming throughout the year.
We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
First, I believe diversity is the backbone of this country. That alone is a reason to prioritize it. Second, every culture, race, and ethnicity bring something different to the table, and there’s a real beauty in that. I can’t imagine a world without it. From my perspective, diversity can only affect our culture in a positive way. Lastly, it matters because it impacts everything: business, entertainment, food — everyone can learn from each other. This industry (and every other industry) would be boring without it. Three reasons it matters in film and television are:
Reason 1: It gives people around the world who don’t have the same privileges we do the chance to get to know other cultures. It gives cultures that might otherwise go under the radar a chance to be seen.
Reason 2: With everything going on in the world, sadly, there are still a lot of people who are close-minded about certain races and cultures. Putting diversity into film and tv can give a new perspective to people who need to re-evaluate their mindset. Every culture has something beautiful.
Reason 3: We are all human. We all breathe the same air, and we all live on this big blue planet. We all need to get along, and no one should be looked down on as less because they come from a different background, class, or culture. Putting diversity on the screen reinforces how connected we are.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
#1 This career path is not cheap! I never in a million years imagined all the moving parts to this industry. I wish I’d known more about that part heading in. It’s hard to keep up with what’s needed just to maintain yourself as a person and your mental health, let alone managing a whole team behind you.
# 2 Not everything you make is a hit. I was so naïve coming up because I thought everything that I touched was gold. It doesn’t work like that. Humble yourself, and don’t be scared to let other people be part of your project.
#3 Not everyone is your friend. Not everyone who is friendly is doing it for positive reasons. Some people have no heart in this industry. You have to know who your people are.
#4 Its dog eat dog out here. Know your value, and don’t let yourself get used. You have to watch out for people just waiting to benefit off you or your music or hard work without contributing anything.
#5 Quality matters and you need quality production and content right from the jump. When I started, I recorded on a mic on my desk at home and released music just like that. It was a mistake. People want to see you put effort into what you love, and being cheap with your production will only get you so far.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
In all honesty, I probably shouldn’t be preaching to anyone on this just because I can’t take my own advice on the subject. Burn out is real. I work 24/7, and my team is always on my back like, ‘Panda, take a break. Chill out.” I’m honestly a workaholic. With that being said: listen to your body. Work as hard as it can handle (which means listen to your body and stop when it’s telling you that it’s time to take a break). You’ll get to where you need to be eventually.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I’d want to inspire the “stay in your lane “movement and the “let other people live” movement. We live in a society now where everyone is so invested in everyone else’s personal lives that they forget to live their own. If someone wants to do something, let them. If they wanna look a certain way, let them. So long as they’re not hurting you or others, let people live!
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
My mom and my sister have always been really supportive, and it has made all the difference for me. I’ve made a lot of bad decisions in my life. We’ve had our ups and downs — things definitely got rough at one point — but I managed to get my life together with their help and support, and I wouldn’t be here without them.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I have two, actually, and they’re both in Spanish, but I live my life based on these (to the point that I have them both tattooed):
The first is “El que es perico donde quiera es verde,” which pretty much means “he who is great will be great no matter the circumstances.” It’s relevant to my life because I’ve never been one to let my circumstances hold me back or keep me down for long.
Then there’s the second one, which is “NO PASA NADA.” That means: “Nothing is going to happen.” Think along the lines of “just do it.” This ties into the first phrase for me and applies to my life because I don’t believe in excuses or sitting around waiting for things to happen. I’m a very proactive person, and if I want something done, I’m going to make sure I don’t leave any stones unturned.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
I would love to have a meal with Scott Storch. He’s a musical genius who lost it all and was able to make a comeback, only to prove he is the greatest producer of all time. I’d have a million and one questions for him about his journey, his comeback, career… all of it.
How can our readers follow you online?
This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!
Thank you very much!