Panicland

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They say emotions run higher when you’re exhausted. From late in the evening until the early morning hours, Panicland’s lead singer, songwriter and producer, Braedon Horbacio, can be found in his home studio, The Souvenir Shop. Filled with Gremlin dolls, Back to the Future memorabilia and other pop culture souvenirs from past decades, the studio is his mecca.

The band’s latest single “Wasted”, written and produced by Horbacio, was the result of an hour-long midnight session at The Souvenir Shop. “I originally wrote the song for somebody, almost as a conversation, and didn’t mean for anyone else to hear it. It was recorded in less than an hour, just holding a cheap mic and trying to get it done as fast as I could so I could send it off to them while they were still up.” The band immediately loved it and though it was re-recorded in a more traditional studio, they decided to release the original demo recorded that night.

Panicland is part of the “playlist generation”; like most people their age when asked what kind of music they like, the answer is simply, “everything”. With their forthcoming Souvenir album, they are setting out to take advantage of this post-genre moment in culture. The band is heavily inspired by the careers of artists like Billy Joel and Bruno Mars, who, with their songs wear their love of nostalgia and classics on their sleeve. Who, instead of hiding their influences, celebrate them by writing and releasing songs that jump from style to style as much as their taste in music does – almost a tongue-in-cheek tribute to the artists they love. It’s in this vein that Panicland hopes to carry on this tradition, aiming for a body of work that functions more like a carefully crafted playlist at a high school dance or wedding than it does a traditional album.

“Even people who go to the hippest club and love the latest bangers have a side of them that will belt “Don’t Stop Believin’” on the drive home. That’s the side of a person that we want to affect with “Wasted” and the rest of the Souvenir album,” says Horbacio.

Following the radio success of “Bad Word”, which reached #26 on the Billboard Top 40 Canadian Singles Chart, the band began to pay close attention to which songs were on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and major Spotify playlists. They focused on what they weren’t hearing and identifying qualities that were lacking in popular music. “My favourite songs of all time weren’t just songs, they were events, or pop culture phenomenons. On paper, a song like ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ or ‘When Doves Cry’ shouldn’t have worked, but instead they affected the whole world. My goal is to write songs like that,” Horbacio says.

With an emphasis on co-writing not only for Panicland, but for other artists, Horbacio’s goal is to spread this nostalgic and eclectic style to others. Horbacio has written with Keith Harris (Black Eyed Peas, Fergie, Madonna), David “DQ” Quiñones (Jason Derulo, Beyoncé, Enrique Iglesias), Gavin Brown (Billy Talent, Three Days Grace, Metric), and many more writers in LA, Nashville, Toronto and writing camps across Canada.

“To me the greatest songs are also the simplest songs, but writing a simple song is the hardest thing to do. The feeling of being on a roll, writing a great song, is such a high – it’s a feeling I chase every day.”

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