With a new sound and an understanding of exactly how important an entertainer’s job is, Jarrah McCleary of Panama proves that he is an experienced musician with more than a decade of work behind him.

At 31 years old, he has quite a repertoire that he digs in to and draws from to influence the sound that is Panama.

“I played in a high school metal band as a teenager,” he says with laugh, “and I even played in an improvisational comedy band where I played piano and made up songs for three hours on the spot.”

Jarrah also has experience with raw comedy and was even part of an indie rock band called Dirty Secrets.

After moving from Perth to Sydney around four years ago Jarrah and his band set out for new musical challenges on the east coast.

It was during this time that McCleary spent time writing for an album for Dirty Secrets.

“I thought it was going to be a Dirty Secrets record. I went over to L.A to do the record and I worked with a producer called Eric Broucek of DFA.”

Being a keyboard player, Jarrah found that the new album focused primarily on keys rather than recording something that was guitar-centered.

Once he was back in Australia, Jarrah shared the music with Dirty Secrets band mate, Cam.

“Cam was like, ‘yeah this is really good, I wanna continue with this.’ But we came to the decision that it wasn’t going to be a Dirty Secrets album anymore.” Jarrah explains. “Dirty Secrets was indie rock, and this … wasn’t,” he admits with a good-natured laugh.

Together Jarrah and Cam embarked on their new project, Panama. Their first single, ‘Magic’ was released and picked up by Triple J. It was given a lot of rotation on airwaves and received enough attention to gain the interest of a few labels.

“We signed over to Future Classic in Sydney and they helped us release our EP,” says Jarrah.

He describes Panama’s sound as a smorgasbord, drawing inspiration from his former experience.

“We’re nostalgic-based, electronic pop music- you know, something that you’ll hear and think, ‘wow when I listen to that, it takes me somewhere familiar!’”

He wants people to be comforted by Panama’s sound.

The EP is called ‘Its Not Over’ and the title track’s music video is available on YouTube. It is something that this 5-piece band can certainly be proud of, after garnering more than 230,000 views without too much radio rotation.

“We’ve got a lot of hype outside of the country – in Europe especially,” he says graciously.

The boys are ready to take Panama on the road, embarking on a nation-wide tour and a first time away from Sydney. They are set to show their audience what they are about and show off their talent, enthusiasm and integrity.

This integrity and sincerity of this project radiates very clearly from McCleary who exudes charisma and an obvious and keen passion for his band.

“We really care about this and we want to give the audience something special,” he says. “If you’re up there on stage, your job is to be the band and to entertain, and if you’re not doing that then you shouldn’t be up there.”

Being a musician is something that McCleary loves and he understands that it is quite a unique career path that he does not take for granted.

“There’s no other job that I know of where you can feel so good while doing what you’re doing!” he exclaims.

The band kicked off the first show in Sydney Jan 30th and are taking on Melbourne on Valentines day.

“We are flying everywhere this time which is so good,” he says with a tension-relieving laugh.

“And everyone is pretty excited, we are all vibed up about it all!”

Check out Panama in your nearest city!

Thurs, 14 Feb – MELBOURNE
The Ripe 1st Birthday @ Workers Club w/ City Calm Down, Collarbones + more

Fri, 15 Feb – ADELAIDE
Cats @ Rocket Bar w/ special guests

Sat, 16 Feb – PERTH
Perth Festival w/ Flight Facilities, Mitzi, Scenic + FCDJs

Fri, 22 Feb – SYDNEY
O-Fest @ UTS w/ Midnight Juggernauts, New Navy, Hermitude + more


Written by Jessica Teni