| endangered: the fierce panda story
fierce panda recordings are joining furry forces with Document Films and the Pledgemusic organisation to create endangered: the fierce panda story, a cinematic opus which will be launched in February 2014 to tie in with the 20th birthday celebrations of one of Great Britains most gently respected independent labels. The film will be accompanied by a soundtrack album condensing the best of over 250 singles into one mildly coherent release, and if we're really lucky there could well be a book as well.
The film casts a wry glance back at the early days of Coldplay, Placebo, Idlewild, Art Brut, Hundred Reasons, Keane, Kenickie, The Maccabees, Ash, Embrace, Three Colours Red, The Bluetones and many more who came through the fierce panda A&R factory (with a small f) lo-fi production line. There will be brand new interviews with various artists and funseekers recalling their humble, stumbling beginnings along with rare footage of those seemingly innocent days and songs.
At the heart of the film is the notion that small labels such as fierce panda are fast becoming an endangered species ‚ like wild animal, like record company ‚ battered as they are by illegal downloads, a collapsing retail system, a major label-propelled pop culture and a never ending recession. So how can the truly independent independents manage to continue to inspire in spite of these times? In the world of the label-free blog-tastic digital release what role does the simple record company have any more? Will X Factor make the indies X-tinct? Or as fierce panda chief Simon Williams puts it, ?ìLike Santa Claus, the tooth fairy and Eskimos, if the kids dont believe in us how can we exist?¬ù
These are the questions that endangered: the fierce panda story will attempt to answer. Behind the cameras and indeed shaking their heads in the editing suite will be Document Films, still hoovering up the awards nudged their way for their 'Upside Down' movie which cast a bloodshot eye over the bloody history of Creation Records. Helping raise the finances to make this whole cinematic caboodle possible are the kind people at Pledgemusic, who are constructing a campaign stuffed to the gills with special treats for fans of the fierce panda bands past, present and hopefully future. That campaign will be launched in early 2013 and will be centred upon pre-orders of the endangered: the fierce panda story DVD and soundtrack.
Since forming in a Tottenham Court Road pub in 1994 with a business plan to release one record (the Shagging In The Streets EP) and then call it a day, fierce panda has accidentally continued chipping and nipping away at the coalface of alternative rock for nigh on two decades, the misguided underdogs mining for the next wonderful pop cats. It's (momentarily) sobering to realise - as we did just this year - that over 60 (yes, thats sixty) acts have moved through the panda ranks and onto bigger labels, all the way from Art Brut to Winnebago Deal via Coldplay, Keane and, of course, The Computers.
Once renowned for one-off 7¬ù releases, since The Maccabees' Latchmere single in 2007 the panda has been concentrating on longer term relationships with bands. Now armed with a catalogue of 80 albums and counting ‚ they released ten long players in 2012 alone by acts such as The Crookes, Hawk Eyes, Hey Sholay, Hatcham Social, The Kabeedies, Electricity In Our Homes, Dingus Khan, Acres Of Lions and the indestructible Ultrasound, and 2013 has started in excellent form with the Milo Greene campaign - the endangered: film will take a sideways look at the highs, lows and even lowers of a life spent running an independent label, focusing on the people on stage, the places in London and the propulsive alternopop chaos which has driven fierce panda to the edge of reality and then all the way back again.
"In the end I realised it's not how cool the thing is - it's the meaning behind it."
Po the Kung Fu Panda, 2012