Emerging seemingly full grown from the sleepy, conservative exurbs of Philadelphia, Night Panther is a band whose sound alone makes a statement: glittery, synthetic, groove-heavy, and unmistakably melodic, this is music that worships at the altar of ’70s disco, with a side trip through Freddie Mercury’s mustache. The trio’s giddy, deeper-than-it-may-first-seem confection “All For Love” was featured on Fingertips in May of this year, in advance of the release of the self-titled debut album, which came out in July on Small Plates Records.
The Fingertips Q&A, for the uninitiated, is a semi-recurring feature. More than three dozen artists to date have participated. The Q&A’s sole intent is to allow actual, workaday 21st-century musicians a forum for discussing the state of music in the digital age. We can all do with hearing less often from so-called experts who by and large have huge vested interests in their “future of music” pronouncements and more often from the musicians themselves.
Night Panther front man Farzad Houshiarnejad here handles the questions.
Q: How do you as a musician cope with the apparent fact that not everybody seems to want to pay for digital music? Do you think recorded music is destined to be free, as some of the pundits (not to mention all of the pirates) insist?
A: The model of this industry, along with many others, is constantly changing, and not for the worst. I believe the problem resides within human adaptability to change. With that being said, there is always monetary opportunity in any profession. The question is, how does one adapt to achieve monetary success within the ever-changing economics of present and future models? Personally, our goal as Night Panther is to create music to the best of our abilities with the hopes of incoming recognition, which in turn will hopefully fulfill the monetary requirements of a humble lifestyle. We try not to involve ourselves in the mechanics of how the model operates; high schoolers and twitter will do that for you.
Q: What do you think of the idea that music is destined for the “cloud”? How do you, as both a musician and a listener, feel about this lack of ownership, about handing a personal music collection over to a centralized location?
A: Nostalgia is powerful. I can understand how a tangible object, such as a record, could have an interpersonal relationship with someone. Although, if it does dissipate in the future and everything is in the “cloud,” I can assure you, evolution will pave away these distant memories. This could be unfortunate.
Q: Social media has fostered a pervasive clamoring for quantity: everyone (both artists and fans alike) are supposed to want more and more “friends,” more and more “followers,” more and more “likes,” more and more “views.” How do you personally stay committed to quality in this landscape?
A: Quality will always overcome quantity. Perhaps not in the short run, but certainly in the long run. The youth in our societies today are most susceptible, and yet responsible, for this erroneous popularity gain, which sets us up for the quantity contest of social media. Sometimes deleting your Facebook page and concentrating on your goals for a short while might be the best remedy.
Q: One obvious thing the digital age has introduced is the ease of two-way communication between artist and fan. Does this feel like a benefit or a distraction, or a little of both?
A: That depends on the individual and the band as a whole, so it’s a bit of both. Britney Spears, for example, must get a lot of hate mail, whereas smaller bands aren’t usually subjected to that type of abuse, so contact with the fans can be extremely rewarding. I’m not saying Britney doesn’t have that, but she probably stays away from her inbox quite often.
Q: There is clearly way more music available for people to listen to these days than there ever used to be. How do you as a musician cope with the reality of an over-saturated market, to put it both economically and bluntly?
I think it’s fantastic! Anyone and everyone should be able to have a try at anything. Economically, this seems like a prosperous opportunity for small businesses such as mom-and-pop music shop owners and instrumental/electronic builders to finally make a living off the vast community of musicians we see today. In turn, this causes a lot of crap, but at least people are able to have a go at it.