Introducing... Professor Penguin

by - Wednesday, May 23, 2012

As my blog grows, I've started receiving a lot of emails from PR Companies showing off their bands. These are always the most exciting emails to get, the potential promise of some great new music, but naturally, a good percentage of it isn't really to my tastes.
However, a band dropped into my inbox a few months back that were right up my street, by the name of Professor Penguin. Having released their debut album 'Planes' back in April (fully streamable on soundcloud above), the London collective have already been featured in The Fly, on BBC Radio 1 and as Q Magazine’s “Track Of The Day”, as well as having a sold out residency at London's Ronnie Scott's. Blending what sounds to me like early Get Cape Wear Cape Fly (electrifolk?) with hazy harmonies, the band have even picked up a celebrity fan in Brian Eno, who took their track 'Pilot' into BBC 6Music to play on air during a recent interview.
So why should you all care? Well, I thought it made best sense to ask the band themselves. I chatted to lead singer Johnny Abraham via email to find out.

What was it like hearing that Brian Eno likes your music?
It was pretty surreal when we found out about Brian Eno liking Pilot. Jono (our producer) had a text message from a friend at 6 Music who said he was bringing it in to play on the Radcliffe and Maconie show. When Jono rang to tell me I really couldn't believe it. He is a real hero for the both of us and to find out he liked what we made was a really affirming thing. 
Would you like to work with him?
Of course, if at some point in the future there is an opportunity to work with him then we'd love to take it. 
How did you go about recruiting the 8 other members for Professor Penguin?
I've played in bands with most of Professor Penguin's members for around the last 8 years. So when it came to putting a live show together it was really easy and things all just fell into place. A lot of the press I've seen has had us down as a 9 piece but it always feels quite strange seeing that. There has been anywhere between 3 and 12 of us on stage at one time since things started and most of the shows we do at the moment there are 10 of us so it's all a bit confusing... 
Why have you chosen Secret Garden Party as your only festival appearance for this year?
Secret Garden Party just seems like an amazing festival. And we're on the Where The Wild Things Are stage which is an added bonus. But really, we'd love to be doing more festivals and there are a few more left to announce, so that's very exciting for us. 
You've mentioned that you're ready to go into the studio to make your second record - why so soon? How will it be different to Planes? 
For me it would feel very strange to ever stop demoing/recording new things. It's not to say that these are complete songs/ideas that are really ready, but I like to have everything down in rough form just so I can hear it and see it up on a screen. Like a lot of writers I feel this early stage is probably the most exciting. Every time I put a demo on to listen to it's like I'm constantly tweaking my ideas for the song and it really helps to home in on what it eventually becomes. 
Why should people be interested in Professor Penguin?
The most important thing about working after this record is that I learn from what didn't go so well the first time. At the moment I don't know how it's going to be different but that's exciting for me. I'm just looking forward to hearing how it turns out. But for now we're all really enjoying playing Planes. Hopefully people will get that we just love playing the music we play and they'll want to see us grow. Having such a large band for the live show is also a bit of a pull, if only to see whether we can all fit on the stage...

Professor Penguin’s debut album ‘Planes’, featuring the singles 'Pirate' and 'Pilot', is out now on Gentoo Recordings. For more info visit

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