The White Panda mashes up at House of Blues Sunday

BY Jake Krzeczowski October 5, 2012 3:20PM

Originally Appeared at Chicago Sun-Times
Updated: October 7, 2012 10:19AM

Tom Evans and Dan Griffith both expected to be working “normal” jobs by now.

Evans, aka Procrast, a Northwestern University graduate had been eyeing a gig in consulting in Chicago while Griffith, aka DJ Griffi, an electrical engineering major from USC, had toyed with the idea of spending his days in a Silicon Valley lab.

Instead, the two childhood friends will don LED-powered panda masks and take the stage at the House of Blues Sunday as part of their “Mating Season” tour.

What started as a way to avoid homework and post songs for friends evolved into a joint venture out of Los Angeles, which they launched under the banner of The White Panda.

“We came up with the name just thinking of ideas one day,” said Griffith, who claims to have nearly 500 different panda masks in his closet. “The whole panda image was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made for the group.”

The panda quips don’t stop there. Music videos by the duo feature pandas onstage, pandas in the crowd and in one of their latest videos on YouTube a panda recreates the popular “Gangnam Style” dance moves. 

At a time when the rise of Electric Dance Music (EDM) has taken over the pop market, many DJs have come under fire for simply flipping a switch, playing the music and standing onstage.

The largest incident came when Swedish House Mafia member Steve Angello was seen casually smoking a cigarette while music blasted from the speakers on either side of him, premixed.

“A lot of people are surprised when they leave our shows because the mash-up concept isn’t as much of a novelty as it once was,” said Evans. We bring a lot of energy to our shows and it’s sound and it’s lights, visuals. It’s more than just a track by track mix, we try to get the crowd involved.”

What sets the duo apart is their ability to adequately fill the niche they have carved for themselves since 2008, when the mash-up scene (creating a remix by combining two or more songs) was dominated by Girl Talk..

“We were on of the early artists to make [mash-ups] a little more mainstream,” Griffith said. “We tend to lend ourselves more to the EDM world. That’s one of the reasons we were able to separate ourselves and one of the reasons we remain relevant today.”

While the two may not have forseen the path their music has taken them, there is no hurry to change lanes just yet.

“We’re both pretty studious guys and the fact that we went this directions is kind of crazy at times,” said Evans. “We now have fans who get excited with each new release so we just try to push ourselves and evolve as the music industry evolves.”

Jake Krzeczowski is a local free-lance writer.

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