TP31 - Theme 2

A historic week for Britain approaches. The great EU referendum arrives at our doorsteps after what seems like a lifetime of painful, bad tempered and often fruitless campaigning. I shall be happy when it’s over.

The economic, scientific and artistic arguments for staying have been offered and countered vigorously, although vacuously, by the leavers, despite the voices of reason andTP 31 EU dice experience generally sitting in the Remain camp. So is there a explanation why, despite the often more solid case to remain and the majority of politicians who have held any real power in recent years telling us so, a sizeable slice of the British population intends to vote Leave?

It’s not just about the all-time-low in our trust of politicians and our apparent need to put our faith in colourful characters who have no substance and perhaps no integrity either.

The reason, is that the vote on Thursday 23rd June is intrinsically an ideological and emotional choice for many people.

Are we an insular island nation that is choosing to ‘take our ball back’ when the game gets hard? Do we no longer see the value in sharing cultures, in a smaller more varied and exciting world? Do some of us actually and truly blame the EU that Britain is no longer the land of Jeeves and Wooster, afternoon tea, leaving your front door open, street parties and standing up for the Queen’s speech? That immigration has apparently taken all of this way, as well as our jobs (although those usually being the ones we plainly feel too superior to do!)? Have we become so insecure that we actually believe that our noble culture and heritage, nurtured and built over thousands of years is really at risk from being part of a broader community…of a larger world?


Are we a forward looking country that sees its place in the world as an experienced ‘statesperson’, ‘spokesperson’ and ally of justice, battling unfairness, building a safer and more equitable world for us and everyone else in it? Do we realise that time has moved on and turning your back on the march of time doesn’t mean it stops, but rather that it just tramples you? Do we understand that to achieve the best in us and recognise or leverage the best in others, we must work as a community, as a team and improve from within not without? Do we see ourselves as shapers of the future, or happy to let others get on with it while we stay at home and perfect the art of making a damn good steak and kidney pudding?

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Before you put that cross in a box, forget your opinion of Cameron, Farage, Osborne, Gove and Corbyn. Think about who YOU are! Try to look past the transient challenges like the economic crisis of 2008, of war-fuelled migration and think to how we sent our builders to the EU in the 1980’s when our own economy tanked. Remember how our cooperation with the wider world since World War II has bought so many good things. Think big for your children – allow them to aspire to be citizens of the world not just a big fish in a small pond (one that is probably evaporating due to global warming).

The Panda chooses to ‘Remain’ and urges you all to think carefully for the future of our descendants and the increasingly smaller world that we cannot turn our back on. Think before leaping into the dark hole that the Leave campaigners have decorated at the entrance with shimmering lights and the prospect of sherry trifle for all. It will not be a soft landing.

Let’s truly be a part of this world and have our say.

Oh yes…and those under 25’s….please get out there and vote. We are relying on your untainted and unjaded optimism and your vision for the future to steer your sometimes misguided, older forbearers into a fairer, brighter, more cooperative future.

The Panda has had his say. Let the cards fall as they may.


Background3 - My Life on TVAll the Singing, none of the Stinging!
Conrad De Souza explains his new musical project: Macrowasp

Tarantino Panda catches up with Conrad De Souza (who has previously talked to us about the art of songwriting and home recording) to find out what is behind his new album ‘Byte Size Matters’ and his intriguingly titled virtual band ‘Macrowasp’.

So where did Macrowasp come from?

“These names and ideas spring from the weirdest places! My wife Yessica has never been a fan of flying stinging insects and one day, in her native Spanish, she loudly christened a particularly large and terrifying creature that was troubling her round the swimming pool, as a ‘Macrowasp’.

I carefully stored the name at the back of my mind, thinking it was a great name for a band or project. I recall us sitting in a pub in one of my favourite towns, Bath sometime later in around 2009 and over a large glass of red wine telling her how I had big plans for the name!”

What exactly is the concept?

“When I first started thinking about Macrowasp, I had grandiose plans to make an album of my own songs, but differently to my previous outings. I toyed with inviting numerous friends and musicians I had worked with in the past to contribute to the songs. In effect Macrowasp could be a musicians’ collective rather than a band or specific group of people. Unfortunately, I didn’t really think through the practicalities of such an endeavour. Much of my love of recording comes from having a studio at home that I can crawl into at a moment’s notice whenever I have time and slap some tracks down in my pajamas if the mood takes me. Involving a raft of friends and fellow musicians, although exciting, means a good deal of planning, rehearsing and some loss in the spontaneity (and after all, they probably wouldn’t want to see me in my pajamas!).

As a result of this and over time, Macrowasp morphed into something else more akin to what Damon Albarn did with Gorillaz or Paul McCartney did with ‘The Fireman’. It became a vehicle for me to freely explore a direction that I may not have pursued as vigorously on a typical ‘Conrad De Souza’ album. In essence Macrowasp is very much a musical alter ego.”

Psychiatrist ThumbnailSo what direction did Macrowasp take you in?

“On my albums to date there have always been at least one or two tracks that sit more firmly in the ‘Electro-Pop’ bracket than my staple British Guitar Pop. Although bands like the Beatles were my initial and biggest inspiration and the guitar is my instrument of choice, my formative teen years were submerged in glorious and colourful electronic 80’s pop and in many ways that has had a major influence on my perception of a cracking pop tune.

I decided that through Macrowasp, I would surrender to that 80’s influence and combine it with my current style of songwriting and arrangement using the plethora of studio tools available to me in a 21st century home studio.

Songs are at the heart of all my projects and irrespective of musical style, the words and melodies are the most important thing. The new album will be accompanied by a handful of lyric videos including this one called ‘My Life on TV’, which I hope will help listeners delve into the lyrics a little further and let the story stimulate the imagination.”

What else can we expect from the new album ‘Byte Size Matters’?

“As the title suggests ‘Byte Size’ is a direct reference to the increased electronic ingredients on the album. That said, you will still hear some funky guitar and what I hope you will find both infectious and catchy tunes with intriguing lyrics and a satisfying groove! IMacrowasp album cover 2 - CD Baby Proof have aimed at creating an unpretentious, (possibly guilty!), pleasure that listeners will enjoy and want to listen to again. Many of the tunes are new, but I deliberately hand picked a few that I actually wrote back in the 80’s, when I would have been directly influenced by the sound and culture of the time, in order to give the album a little more authenticity and depth. There is an album sampler on You Tube for anyone that wants a quick tour of how it sounds. I just hope that people ‘get it’ and enjoy the fun vibe and tongue-in-cheek nature of some of the songs”

Are we likely to hear more from Macrowasp in future or is it a one-off?

“It’s hard to say at this point. I suppose it’s like asking Daniel Craig if he’ll do another Bond movie when he’s just finished the last one! I feel like I’ve come to the end of the chapter and its time to move on to the next project.

Back2 - Monday Morning MiracleI already have over half the songs planned for my next ‘Conrad De Souza’ album and those are by no means ‘Macrowasp tunes’. I expect I will veer away from the electronic to a more raw and acoustic sound on my next release. It’s good to keep things fresh.

I think the reality is that Macrowasp will return, but only when I have a song or songs that I feel fit that concept and production style. I can’t imagine another whole Macrowasp album for quite some time, but if this one finds an audience, I’d like to think the black and yellow buzzy thing will release the odd single from time to time!”

Byte Size Matters, the new album from Conrad De Souza & Macrowasp was released on 8th April 2016 and is available to download or stream from most online music providers including iTunes, Apple Music, Amazon, CDBaby and Spotify.

The Panda is definitely buzzing!


24adTP - modern family 2The Last Advent Panda

24th Dec 2015: Modern Families

Well we made it Panda followers! It’s Christmas Eve and the big day is just round the corner.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed my Advent ramblings with my mixture of reminiscing, ranting and hopefully, some uplifting moments have helped you on your pre-Christmas journey.

This blog post isn’t funny, ferocious or farcical and sits firmly in the sincere category.

We now live in a different and diverse world where families are not what they used to be. Children often have just one parent or perhaps up to four! Men are married to men, women are married to women and friends are sometimes closer to us to than family.

It does not matter who you love, how you love, what your faith is or even whether you have one. The coming days present an annual opportunity not to be missed.

Christmas by its very name may have originated in christianity, but it need not stay limited to those bounds. Whoever you are, whatever you believe in, use this holiday season as an opportunity to connect or re-connect with those you love – family and friends.

Make memories that will last, recount people and places of the past – life is fleeting and moves so fast. Press the pause button and take a little time to enjoy it.

The Panda will return in 2016, but until then, I wish you, your families and friends, the very best that the festive season has to offer, together with a peaceful and hopeful new year.

Advent TP signing out.

23adTP - turkeyThe Advent Panda

23rd Dec 2015: Collecting the Turkey… ‘Gobble Gobble’!

A long time ago in a country far far away….
….before farm fresh
….before additive free
….before carbon footprints
….before ORGANIC….

We used to just toddle up to Tesco for a frozen turkey, cram it into our already bulging freezer and hope to the stars that we remember to take it out early enough for it to defrost in time for Christmas dinner. I’m sure many a family ate at 9pm having not anticipated the thawing time for their plump, now featherless friend.

Now, we set out on Christmas Eve to the local farm (that on other weekends doubtless holds a farmers’ market) to collect our completely fresh, carefully reared and very recently expired turkey in its own carry carton with roasting instructions and even a handy cooking thermometer!

We wait patiently in a queue surrounded by talkative types in designer wellies, while farm hands in santa hats try to keep us entertained with mulled wine and hot slices of their best home-cooked sausages on wooden sticks.

Mock if you will, but it beats being stuck in a supermarket till queue pondering whether to throw a packet of Polos or Juicy Fruit into your basket!


London snowmanThe Advent Panda

22nd Dec 2015: Still dreaming of a White Christmas?

Christmas snow is rare in the South East of England, despite what tradition and fiction would have us believe. The chances of you getting out there and building a snowman before tucking into your Turkey is pretty slim.

I think for the UK gamblers, the payout is dependent on a single flake of snow falling on the roof of the Met Offices in London during the 25th of December. I’m not quite sure how that works? I know they’ve got lots of equipment up there but I’m sure it doesn’t cover the WHOLE roof. I have a picture in my head of several hardy chaps in scarves and bobble hats sitting equidistantly from each other on the roof and keeping vigil for 24 hours whilst passing round large flasks of coffee. It may not snow, but its bound to be pretty chilly up there!

What are the qualifications for a professional snow spotter and what do they do for the rest of year?

I suppose it’s just another of those great Christmas mysteries…


21adTP - birthdayThe Advent Panda

21st Dec 2015: Birthdays at Christmas…no short straws please!

There’s a nice sense of balance to having your Birthday somewhere in the middle of year. It spreads out the celebrations and indeed your allocation of gifts!

However, there are those who came hurtling into this world in late December not realising that they were crashing the rest of the world’s party.

Its not their fault and lets not penalise them for it.

Joint presents are a complete no no!

Play nice and give them a separate present or presents for their birthday. Plan a distinct party as you would if their birthday was in August (maybe not a barbecue if you’re in the northern hemisphere)!

Only when you have celebrated them properly can we draw a line and get back to talking about what that jolly fat chap in red will be carrying when he scrambles down the chimney on Christmas Eve.


20adTP - blottoThe Advent Panda

20th Dec 2015: Board Games or Blotto

I have a theory that on Christmas Day, families tend to fall somewhere on a spectrum which has the following extremes:

At one end are ‘the Revellers’ – the day ends with boisterous board games, fits of laughter and potentially dancing round the christmas tree to Roy Wood & Wizzard with an elderly relative.

At the other end there are the ‘Couch Hounds’ – By the evening, the kids are obsessing with their toys by the tree and the adults have collapsed, half dosing, with one eye on ‘Call the Midwife’ after several bottles of wine and large post-dinner brandies. No one’s going to make it to the table for a 4 hour game of Monopoly here folks!

I’ve had happy experiences of both. What end of the scale are you heading for this year?


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