Reporting & writing by Nahla Bendefaa

Two years after their first record, Akron-based Land of Panda came back with their newest single “Burn the Fire.” Released March 19 alongside an accompanying music video, “Burn the Fire” is the first single from Land of Panda’s upcoming sophomore EP due out this summer.

Land of Panda’s sound showcases deep eclectic roots. Breighton Jones, the band’s lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist, attributes that to the diversity of interests and influences of each band member. From Prince and Jimi Hendrix to Bob Marley and Scientist, not forgetting Frank Zappa and Thelonius Monk, each band member contributes something different to Land of Panda’s sound.

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“For this particular song, ‘Burn the Fire,’ we were, like most musicians I’d say, in a pretty dark place. When the pandemic went down and everything got closed we basically lost all the jobs that we had and all the gigs that we had booked.” Jones says. “So that came out of a place of sadness honestly and in a place of trying to move forward.” 

With a distinct reggae rhythm and funk-inspired riffs, “Burn the Fire” is a hopeful anthem about pushing forward no matter the hardships as we look ahead for days to come. Jones, as well as Mike Brown Jr. and Noah Debrassy (lead guitarist and bassist, respectively), describe the writing process as collaborative. 

“Usually I’ll bring an idea which could be in the form of a lyric or a hook or a melody and then we’ll come together and jam and build up on it,” Jones says.

“I think a lot of what Land of Panda does, even though it might not sound like it, is definitely very jazzy in the way that we structure songs and the intervals that we use,” Debrassy adds.

Land of Panda was building great momentum at the beginning of 2020. As is the case with most other musical acts, everything was brought to a halt with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. That did not stop the band from performing live at outdoor venues, live streaming events, writing songs and eventually, heading back to the studio. 

“Burn the Fire,” as well as their EP set to release this summer, were recorded at Cleveland’s Signal Flow Studios with Sean Long. Unlike their first album, which was recorded over the course of two days in Hartford, Conn., “Burn the Fire” came to life through a much slower process showcasing a more mature sound.

“We spent probably two weeks in the studio, at least, just on ‘Burn the Fire.’ So the biggest difference is the amount of time we put into these songs,” Jones says.

“And it’s like two or three years after our first album,” Brown adds, “So it’s a lot of evolution from us.”

When times get tough, Land of Panda comes back harder. Find “Burn the Fire” on most streaming platforms

Land of Panda will play May 7 at The Winchester in Lakewood and May 12 at  Woodlands Tavern in Columbus. Learn more about the band and their upcoming schedule on their Facebook page.

Nahla Bendefaa is a writer, photographer, and content creator from Akron, Ohio by way of Kenitra, Morocco. She enjoys rewatching Friday Night Lights, painting, and confusing Spotify’s algorithm while making her way through a seemingly never-ending tea collection.

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