band bio

     Afro Panda was formed by Matt Woodard and Isaac Castillo in January of 2009. However, the pair has been making music together since the day they met in the summer of 2005. Isaac and Matt met at Central Washington University, where they attend college, at their freshmen orientation over the summer. The most notable jam session that day occurred in an elevator: Isaac with his infamous ukulele and Matt with a harmonica. Others present soon joined in the fun. Since that time, after many dorm room and late-night, laundry room jam sessions (as well as a few music lessons), Matt and Isaac have grown both in their skill and the number of instruments they play, culminating in the formation of their current band, Afro Panda.
     The name “Afro Panda” was conceived by Matt’s wife, Kandi, who says she “just thought of two distinct things that characterized Matt and Isaac to most people. Since Matt has an afro, and Isaac loves pandas, it just made sense.” Needless to say, the name stuck.
     The band had their first performance at an open mic night at their college. The university coordinator for student events had this to say about what she saw that night:

"I first saw Afro Panda at an Open Mic night we hosted at Central Washington University. The night started out pretty slow, but once Afro Panda started playing, a ton of people swarmed the stage and jaws dropped. They break out of the usual and expected, and produce a sound that is completely unique and experimental. These two dudes make the key-tar look cool and are talented musicians in their own rights. Needless to say, Afro Panda became a quick favorite at CWU."

     After their initial exposure in the open mic scene, the band started playing other venues, eventually working up to playing full sets at parties. In November of 2009, Afro Panda took on their biggest endeavor yet, the Musica Electronica concert, which took place at Central Washington University’s Music Department Concert Hall. The show included an array of lighting effects, as well as the addition of live horn players on a few songs. This was undoubtedly the most technologically innovative, as well as the most unconventional, performance ever held in this hall. This performance was a huge leap from Afro Panda’s infancy as open mic performers.
     Afro Panda continues to push creative limits with their unique hybridization of live/acoustic and electronic/synthesized music. In performance, the band utilizes a combination of prerecorded beats fabricated by Matt, blended with Isaac’s fat bass and lead lines processed through an elaborate array of effects as Matt sings, plays keytar, electric mandolin, and other instruments. The band looks forward to their next stage of development as they seek to explore new combinations of instrumentation while experimenting with other styles and other ways to combine different acoustic and electronic elements to form fresh, unique sounds.