What happens when you cross a Panda with a Katerina? Well, you don’t get a joke your dad would say, but instead a pop punk duo that’s taken full advantage of the internet, The 30s! This makes all the sense in the world given how much the genre thrived in the early days of MySpace. Oh, Top 8, how we miss you. While those days are gone though, The 30s are here keeping the genre alive and well with a healthy amount of music ready to be enjoyed, like their latest, ‘Seasonal Depression.’ We talked about that, how they came to be miles apart, and more in this back-and-forth exchange.
Kendra: When we think of pop punk our minds always go to bands with 3-5 members, but here you are a duo – which isn’t 100% rare but definitely not something I remember seeing too often back in the day when I frequented The Knitting Factory and Chain Reaction. First, how did you two come together, and what made you two want to keep things to a pairing?
Katerina: It’s a millennial cliché at this point, but “we met online” hahaha!
Panda: Hahaha, it’s a tale as old as time at this point, right? But yeah, we were both part of a couple of the same Pop-Punk/Elder Emo Facebook meme pages, and Katerina posted that she was a session singer available and looking for work. It just so happened that I had finished writing an instrumental track (What would later become “Senseless” off of our debut LP), and I was looking for a vocalist to bring the track to life! I checked out her gig page and felt like her voice was perfect for the track!
Katerina: I remember when I first heard that track, the melody, and lyrics just kind of flowed out of me. We talked a little bit about what we wanted the track to be about, in general terms, but really it just kind of poured out of me in a couple of live takes! Then I laid down the full tracks with the harmonies and whatnot and sent it back to Panda.
Panda: And it was perfect, haha! I knew after the first listen that this couldn’t be a one-off. The musical chemistry just fit too well! And the workflow went smoothly enough that we didn’t want to mess with it by adding another full-time collaborator.
Katerina: Panda on the instrumentals, and me on vocals. We collaborate on some lyrics and we’ve each done some solo. It just works so well with the two of us that we don’t want to mess with it!
Kendra: Last year was a busy year for you two, you dropped both an LP and an EP by the end of 2022. Thinking of them as a meal with the LP being a main course and the EP being that sweet dessert to cap things off – what dishes would you compare them to any why?
Katerina: That’s a good one! I guess I’d say the album is kind of like what a kid’s plate would look like at a Hometown Buffet? You know what I mean?
Panda: Yeah, it’s got a little bit of everything on it!
Katerina: Yeah, we kind of got the whole pop-punk scene rolled into that album. Some of the lighter, pop-rock sound, a little Sum 41-inspired heaviness, some mid-00s acoustic emo thrown in with “The Break Up” too.
Panda: It’s like a 2000-2009 Pop-Punk sampler plate, for sure! The E.P. is different though. I’d say it’s like a strong dessert wine? Like a strong port wine with a slice of dark chocolate lava cake or something.
Katerina: Yeah, it’s definitely a darker, stronger sound. So it’d be a darker, stronger meal I guess.
Panda: Darker music for darker times, but it’s still got a sweet taste!
Kendra: On the self-titled LP, “Like I Do” stuck out to me for the intro. That’s something I think really defines pop punk – those great, energetic intros that can instantly hype a crowd up. Do you have any favorite pop punk song intros that come to mind that maybe inspired you a bit over the years?
Panda: “Dammit” by Blink 182, for sure! It’s instantly recognizable and so iconic. I feel like it’s the “Stairway to Heaven” of the genre in a weird way, where like, everyone who loves this music inevitably learns “Dammit” on guitar as one of their first songs!
Katerina: Not to be a copycat, but I’ll throw out a Blink song as well, “First Date.” That Barker drum fill to start the track was my introduction to Blink.
Panda: That’s a definite banger as well! My first band actually covered that song at our 8th-grade pancake breakfast…but I don’t mean to date myself!
Katerina: Oh, middle school!
Kendra: Now with the EP ‘Seasonal Depression,’ the title track is hard to deny, and I think that’s because as we start to not only understand but also acknowledge mental health more and more – we’re able to better cope with it all. Other than music, what’s something that helps you cope during the sadder times of the year?
Panda: That’s another tough one! It’s hard to pick something other than music, haha! This project kind of started as my mental health/self-care time. I’m a Public Defender in real life, and kind of re-discovered writing music during the early pandemic era as a way to stay sane when everything was falling apart at work.
Katerina: Haha, “in real life.”
Panda: You know what I mean!
Katerina: No, totally. Yeah, it’s hard. We both love music, but because of where we are in our lives, it’s still our “me time” and not our main job or anything. But I guess if I had to pick something I’d say biking.
Panda: My dog is also a big mental health boost! It’s great to have someone so undeniably happy to see you, no matter what. It’s like I’ve just come back from a month-long trip every single day.
Katerina: Pets are the best!
Kendra: And while the holidays are now behind us, I couldn’t help but dig “I Hate Christmas.” I definitely don’t hate the holidays but I did admittingly love it more as a kid for obvious reasons. Ain’t no one getting me a SEGA or a bike nowadays. For you, what’s one aspect of the holiday season that you’d change if you had the power to?
Katerina: I think it’s just the societal/corporate pressure to be “jolly” and appreciate everything. Like you just asked about mental health and seasonal depression, which I think people are now more open to talk about and are more understanding. But at the same time, we’re all acknowledging seasonal depression, seasonal affective disorder, and everything… we’re still force-feeding this narrative about the “happiest time of the year.”
Panda: And I don’t actually hate Christmas, but we gotta acknowledge that the Holiday season isn’t jolly for everyone. It’s a privilege to be “jolly” you know? Economic privilege, ableness-privilege, etc. You know, there’s a reason that Pop-punk Christmas songs are always pretty Anti-Christmas. I don’t think there’s really a bunch of us that hate the holiday season, but there’s an important de-jollification happening here!
Kendra: Okay, now that we talked about the music I do want to ask about your animated personas. Where’d the idea for that come from?
Panda: So the first music video that I can remember seeing was “Clint Eastwood” by Gorillaz. It wasn’t the actual first one that I saw obviously, but it sticks out in my memory because I legit thought they were a real band for the longest time. Like embarrassingly long! And ever since then, I’ve been infatuated with the idea of a “virtual band.”
Katerina: And I think it really fits for us because we’re literally a virtual band. I still live in Canada, and Panda still lives in Oakland. So we actually do everything together, virtually, through the cloud and all that. So we wanted to be the pop-punk/emo Gorillaz, I guess?
Panda: Well I wouldn’t go that far, but they’re definitely a big vibe inspiration, haha.
Kendra: So time for a side note – with love in the air, I’d love to know what is the #1 song you’d put on a mixtape as part of a Valentine’s Day gift?
Panda: You’re on it with these questions! I’d say, “Ever Fallen in Love” by the Buzzcocks for me.
Katerina: “Let’s Go” by Matt & Kim.
Kendra: Lastly, with new music out now, is there anything else we can keep an eye out for as we look ahead to the spring?
Katerina: We don’t want to overcommit, but I’d say they’ll be new music by the end of the summer.
Panda: Definitely a new album by the end of the summer. Which in California means October 1st, btw. And I’m on California time, haha!
Katerina: Stay tuned, and follow us on Insta to keep up with us!