Interview: Panther & the Supafly

For a band whose official debut album is currently being primed for release this fall, Panther & the Supafly are already running out of the gates at full speed. Having already hyped up audiences with their high-energy tracks that fuse hip hop, rap and electronic at every venue in Vancouver that isn’t a stadium, graced the cover of Beatroute Magazine last summer, and played at this year’s NXNE festival, the 5-man band has since swapped out the west coast for Montreal to pursue greater things.

Panther & the Supafly began playing together three years ago, but have known each other for almost ten years. The band is made up of frontman Josh Matumona, David Pimentel (keys/production), Leon Feldman (guitar/keys/backup vocals), Nate Drobner (bass/production) and Duncan Truter (drums).

Their debut, full length album, Rare Form is set for release later this fall. Until then, three of the album’s polished tracks can be streamed on Panther’s website.

The title track, “So Hard” and “Bucketlist” offer listeners a good understanding of the record and how it spans electronic production and live performance, demonstrating that Panther functions both as a group of producers and beatmakers as well as a live band.

 “The thing is, when you have beatmakers as well as instrument players in a live band, you want to have a proper balance of the two,” says Josh “Panther” Matumona in a phone interview with Lyfstyl.

 “’Rare Form,’ the title track, is a hybrid of the two, it’s both band and beat,” says Matumona, noting that the song was previously recorded as a beat by Pimental, who produces as POMO,  before it was re-adapted with instruments. “It’s still a beat but with a lot of live elements to it.”

By comparison, “So Hard” is more of a band song with what you would expect from a live show, tangible instruments and all, while “Bucketlist” represents the production efforts, particularly by AstroLogical and POMO on this track.

Rare Form has been a long time coming, the group wanting to make sure their first full length album is a coherent, refined effort.

 “A lot of the great albums, the ones we’ve been listening to and the ones that we love the most, are projects,” says Matumona. “It makes sense [as a whole], as opposed to just a bunch of songs.”

Aligning the many influences and ideas of each member has launched the long-time friends into heated debates about the order of the songs and whether a track should be cut or not, only proving their dedication to perfection.

“It took us a few years to realize what our sound was,” says Matumona. “So we’ve wanted to spend a lot of time honing that and making a project that is a hybrid of everything that we do.”

Last September, Panther & the Supafly decided, on something of a whim, to uproot and take a chance on Montreal, where they are currently based.

“We realized that we had done as much as we could in Vancouver and we needed to move on and go somewhere with a more thriving scene, where we could actually do something more than what we had,” says Matumona.

“There’s just a lot more of a concentration of artists and venues here, you run into a lot more creativity.”

Collaboration within and separate from Panther & the Supafly has always been a part of the group’s growth.

 “We have a lot of influences ranging in the hip hop, jazz, R&B genre,” says Matumona, naming The Roots, Robert Glasper and Busta Rhymes among numerous others as big influences. “There’s a lot of people doing some really, really good stuff in those genres, making breakthroughs and being super clean and we wanted to try and raise the bar a little bit in terms of the way the writing sounded.”

Panther’s solo work can be found alongside group efforts on the band’s Soundcloud page, Blood & Joy, is a six track EP released July 2012.

“Die Like This” is a hard-hitting track by POMO that features Panther, released to preview Pimental’s album that is also due to drop in the near future through Huh What & Where, the L.A. record label that also signed artists Ta-Ku and Kaytranda.