Miami is a city swollen with world travelers and transients. It's fitting, then, that Argentine singer, songwriter, and producer Panda Elliot would begin her U.S. tour here.
Born in Buenos Aires, Elliot lived the better part of her teenage and university years abroad. "I've been around the world a bit," she says. "I lived in Caracas, Venezuela, for about 17 years, when I was a kid, a teenager. I started playing guitar there with some friends from school. Then I moved to England to study music production, and I had a band there. Then I finally moved back to Argentina. When I came back here, I had another band and then my solo project."
That solo project is a flurry of energetic Spanish-language dance-rock. Sounding like a cross between the Killers and Julieta Venegas, Elliot is set to release her sophomore record, Forastera this Friday. It's an album that very much illustrates her experiences as a global citizen and a musician.
Discussing the title of the LP (which translates to "Foreigner"), Elliot says, "It has to do with my not feeling that I'm really part of some specific place because I've lived in a lot of different places. It was something that I was feeling at the moment and also with the songs. I felt that they didn't fit in any one category. That was how I felt in between Venezuela and Argentina and London. It was like a foreigner always going to new places and always being a foreigner in those places."
Her cross-cultural education in contemporary music also casts a wide net. Asked which artist she would most love to produce or collaborate with, her answer is
Despite her fascination with Hynde, Nicks, and '70s and '80s pop-rock, Elliot is undoubtedly a product of the '90s — a fact reflected in her stage name. "My father gave me the Panda name when I was really young. I was a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan. A character from Ninja Turtles was called Panda Khan, which was a panda samurai, and I was kind of obsessed. Everyone started to call me Panda, and Elliot is my last name. When it came time to do a solo project, I already had it."
In addition to performing her best-known track, a cover of the Cure's "Lovesong," Elliot plans a few more surprises for her upcoming American shows. "Yes, we do other covers live. We do an Ace of Base cover actually, 'All That She Wants.' Today we're trying out 'Hollywood' from Madonna, kind of a rock 'n' roll version. We might get in three or four English songs for the tour to get the people going."
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Getting Americans going was easier than Elliot anticipated her last time in the States. "In March, we were at South by Southwest, and I was kind of worried about that. How would they take most of my music? Do they understand? I think it starts with the rhythm, the rhythm of the music, and with the melodies. I was really surprised. People were really happy to be there, really having a good time. Then I sort of explained a few things in English and my Spanglish upbringing. More people get it than we think."
It's hard not to understand her music when hearing vibrant tracks such as "Guerrero" and "Velociraptor." Ultimately, Elliot just wants people who love rock 'n' roll to have open ears and an open heart. Her message is simple for anyone considering spending some time with Panda Elliot: "I'd like them to listen and make their own judgment. Listen to the songs, enjoy it, be inspired, and have a good time."
With Rodrigo Solo and Blick. 9 p.m. Thursday, September 3, at Open Stage Club, 2325 Galiano St., Coral Gables; 305-441-7902; openstageclub.com. Admission costs $10.