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Pan-Pot on embracing the cycles of techno, Time Warp’s legacy, and finding their way artistically [Interview]

The adage, “two heads are better than one” certainly applies to their ascension; after all it is their shared, intense passion for the dark side of dance music that empowered them to begin producing music together and throwing their own events.

After booking Anja Schneider in 2005, which later led to them being some of Mobilee’s first signees, the Pan-Pot name started to build steam.Pan-O-Rama came two years later, and with that, the duo had carved their niche into dance music’s underground as a premier act.

They’ve continued to let their passion and shared vision pave the way, becoming accomplished label bosses and A&Rs through Second State—which played a notable role in the launch of Amelie Lens. Their own repertoire is a masterclass in electronic as well, with both their studio albums, Pan-O-Rama and The Other show expertise in everything from spacious ambient, to searing techno—as do their numerous releases inside and outside of Second State.  Supplementing their studio work, 2019 alone has seen Pan-Pot complete tours across South America, Europe, Asia, and the United States with stops at Tomorrowland,  Awakenings, Epizode, and beyond.

This Friday, November 22, marks a particularly momentous day for the flourishing pair. It’s the 10th birthday of their iconic Mobilee release, “Confronted,” and to celebrate, they’ve tapped the likes of Farrago, Anfisa Letyago, and more to remix the iconic single. They will also be heading back to New York City for Time Warp USA. The duo, longtime members of the Mannheim institution’s extended family, helped ring in Time Warp’s arrival American shores in its 2014 edition; thus, it’s only fitting they’d be there for the festival’s long-awaited return to the region after a significant amount of time away. Time Warp have partnered once more with Brooklyn stalwarts Teksupport for the show, which also caps off a series of 25th Anniversary celebrations that began with March’s flagship edition. In our brief chat with Pan-Pot, we discuss Time Warp’s fabled legacy while also seeking insight into their keen curatorial process, pressures of stardom, the state of the global techno scene, and more.

You two are longtime veterans of the Time Warp brand. What keeps you coming back each time, and how does the brand set itself apart from other similar festivals in your opinion?

Ohhh that sounds like we’re oooold [laughs]! We’ve been part of TW since 2012, and ever since, big fans of all Time Warp events. Not only have we become friends with the organizers, but we also play all of their other events like Sonus, Love Family Park, etc. We love working with people in a longterm relationship and thus being able to develop together toward the next level. Time Warp is one of the events everybody has an eye on. The lineups are amazing, the production is on another level, and both the crowd and the artists love to party there.

With Time Warp and other house/techno brands out of Europe increasing their global presence, would you agree that we are currently in a “golden age” of sorts for these genres? What do you think has given way to this astronomical rise in global interest?

We definitely are in a kind of “golden age” of house and techno as the new/retro hyped electronic music genre. EDM definitely has drawn attention to electronic music in general, and now with so many new house and techno protagonists who definitely know how to handle social media perfectly it just happens to be a great success for “underground” music. The power of house and techno plus the possibilities of social media are enormous. But it’s interesting how the “underground” actually reacts to social media success…not that positive….

You recently posted about the Berlin wall and its ties to techno; specifically how techno was a great uniting force for people. While this is agreeable, going off the previous question, it seems there are also growing factions within the techno community at large that often fight against each other. What are your thoughts on this and what should fans be doing to restore techno’s ethos? What are some positives in the movement outside of the in-fighting that you see now?

You’re totally right. But it’s normal. The more attention a musical genre gets, the more success, the more protagonists, and the more opinions appear. We really try to stay out of this whole, “what’s cool – what’s not, what’s business techno – what’s real underground” discussion. We did it our way and we’ll keep doing it our way.

As soon as the hype around Techno has cooled down we’ll all speak the same language again – wait for it.

Many would consider you guys icons/ a top tier act. Do you ever feel the pressure to play a certain way, or produce music a certain way to please your fanbase? What’s the key to remaining successful while being authentic to yourselves and your creative process?

Oh yeah, important question. We sometimes feel the pressure to adapt to some new directions … but then, luckily, we just realize that this is bullshit and we just keep doing and developing as we want to. And that has been always key to success. We’re best if we just do what we love and what we feels right to us. Thank you for the compliment calling us icons by the way!

Second State has become a highly successful imprint, supporting artists like Amelie Lens early on in their career and remaining true to its sound. What’s your process for guiding the label’s sound and seeking out artists that you feel will be successful?

Thank you. We founded Second State to build our own platform for young and established talents we want to work with. So it’s definitely an emotional and feeling-driven label representing our taste in electronic music with a focus on techno. We spend a lot of time listening to demos and also discuss a lot. There are three equal opinions taking decisions on the release schedule. So it’s quite a process, but also enjoyable. We probably have enough experience to kind of see if there’s potential in an upcoming artist—but maybe not.

Finally, what excites you most about playing Time Warp New York? What are your thoughts on the NYC techno scene in general?

We love NYC…it’s one of our favorite cities in the world. Vibrant, exciting, never resting and super inspiring. So is the techno scene at the moment. New venues and promoters, great underground parties in Brooklyn. But also more commercial events with great artists…so right now is a great moment for us to play Time Warp NYC and we’re excited already! It will certainly be a music enthusiastic crowd, a great production and so many friends on site!

Photo credit: Jeff Elstone

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Christian Smith | CU Techno 17