Pan-Pot: Change of State

Features

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In lieu of the launch of their much anticipated record label, Pan-Pot arrive in London on the 15th March in collaboration with LWE to give us a taste of things to come. The German duo have, over the last ten years, earned the respect of the industry’s most fastidious stalwarts for not only their consistent work in the studio but also for their ability to command a room. Tassilo Ippenberger and Thomas Benedix met at university in Berlin (The school of audio engineering, SAE) in 2003 and there the fairytale began as the two formed an unassailable bond over a mutual taste in music. In 2005 they began their now longstanding relationship with Mobilee records with the imprint providing them with a platform from which they have grown considerably. A synergistic working relationship not being necessarily synonymous with larger record labels, though something that Mobilee has continued to execute commendably. Tagging themselves as “the dark side of the force,” Pan-Pot have melted minds, warped perceptions and reinvigorated the dancefloor with their heady, unorthodox sound; within their work, subtle pitch manipulations square off with wall-of-sound distortion, the dark stomp of 4/4 is tamed by intricate sound design, and minimalistic frameworks duel with throbbing bass lines, epic builds, and murky, off-kilter melodies.

Whilst individuality has played a role in Pan-Pot arriving to where they are today, unquestionable is the influence of their friendship and grounded approach. Right from the offset Tassilo and Thomas come across as unpretentious and sincere. Two friends who have been able to make a living out of doing something that they love and continue to feel passionate about and challenged by. On the brink of their record label, Second State, going live the Berliners took some time out to talk to DT about their illustrious careers, upcoming label showcase in London and why they feel the time is right to give something back to electronic music.

Your first release was on the then little-known Mobilee records, the “Popy and Caste” EP. I’ve always felt though that you’ve been the red herring at Mobilee with a much more techno sound.Tassilo: In the beginning it was more like minimal house and our style changed. People don’t recognize our first tracks but that was when people didn’t know us and in the last 5 years our sound has changed a lot.

Thomas: And also the Mobilee philosophy was different in the beginning. They were more open-minded to more electronic genres. So we had Exercise One; they were the “really techno” guys, we were in between techno and tech house and Sebo (K) was straight up house.  Then it became more this one-genre label for tech-house. That’s also what we recognized about five years ago – we were sort of like the more exotic act at that moment compared to a lot of the rest, which was pretty much the same kind of style. Which is ok! It got more and more difficult to identify with the musical direction though.

Our sound also changed; it got harder and more techno. But they still supported us and our music for which we are extremely grateful.

Tassilo: But it’s also the reason why we started up our own label. It’s nice to have your own platform for releasing music where you don’t have to adjust your music to a certain style.

Thomas: We always had to think, “ok, does this fit with Mobilee’s style? Can we play it to those guys?” And that’s what we got rid of. We can do whatever we want now.

Second State launches later this month. Is it going to be strictly techno? What can you tell us about your ideas for the label?Tassilo: Well we will definitely have vinyl and digital releases because we still think vinyl is important; we still collect a lot of vinyl and we love it so will definitely be doing that. Artist-wise, we have already signed two artists: one producer duo, and also our good friend Clint Stewart. We’ve already got amazing tracks from them. Musical taste wise, it’s not just techno; it’s mostly split up into A-sides and B-sides. The A-side should be more techno driven, that we can play whenever we feel like in our sets. The B-side can be more something that they do because they love to do it; it can be more like house, it can include live instruments – whatever. It should be open for what people want to do besides techno.

Is that something that you want to continue with your releases on the label?Tassilo: Well, that’s the plan right now. We realise it’s a very idealistic way of starting a label. We haven’t put out big promotions but we are working on it as hard as possible.

Is promotion not an important part of helping new artists reach the right audience?Tassilo: I’m talking about the first release, because the first release is coming from us. I mean we will promote it but we are not going to spend thousands of Euros promoting it. We want it to grow in a healthy way as we did as artists. We had our ten years of Pan-Pot anniversary last year and it took us ten years of hard work and growth to get to that point. I think that for a label it’s also more healthy to grow it in this fashion. 

Thomas: Yes, grow because the music is good not because the promotion is good. It has to be a balance, but I think in the first place the music has to be nice. People must recognise the label because the music is good and not just because of good promotion.

So the first release is Pan-Pot. When are you hoping to release that?Thomas: We have already had to postpone it a little, but it’s mid- April.  We had to delay it because of the distribution. These are the types of things that we are having to fight for right now! 

Have you been wanting to start your own label for a while?Tassilo: I started talking about it about five years ago and Thomas didn’t really like the idea back then. We started talking about it seriously though at the end of 2012. We decided then that it was the right time as we now have the right setup to do it, we have enough people we can work with and also we can afford to do it now. So it has taken a year and a half for it to grow and it feels good that it has developed in this way, rather than an idea that we acted on impulsively. It’s pretty healthy this way. 

Thomas: Also about five years ago the artists around us were all coming out with new labels and I was just thinking “Fuck, I don’t want to just be another one of them!” I also didn’t feel experienced enough to start a label. Similarly I would want to marry someone once and it be right rather than try it out, it doesn’t work, and then have to try marrying someone else!

You’ve not had an artist album drop since 2007. Is this something that you’ve been holding onto until the launch of Second State?Tassilo: Not so much…. I mean we have three half finished albums on our studio computers. You wouldn’t believe how many other music-related projects we have going on though, for example we have new riverside studios here in Berlin and we are constantly working on stuff. With many of our projects we have not focussed on a timeframe to have them completed in, but I can promise you that there will be another album coming. Also, compared to releasing an album every couple of years it’s super special when you have one come out after so long. 

Thomas: It’s also that we now have our own setup that we are really happy with. So we have good musicians that we like working with and good studios. We’ve also worked on a few new tracks for the new label so we’ll definitely be working on a new album in the near future.

Usually an artist album is an avenue that allows artists to experiment with different sounds. Whilst your productions more often veer towards the techno end of the spectrum you are known for being able to play both house and techno and are therefore already more diverse than many artists. Does one style feel more natural to you?Tassilo: Well we play bigger events where we play straighter, like techno and tech house, but then we also love the afternoon or early evening rooftop parties.

Thomas: Sometimes it does depend on our moods.

Tassilo: We are happy though that we have this profile that people can book us for a rooftop party or for a techno party. Sometimes we may even play techno at the rooftop parties, it depends on our moods.