Exclusive – The Panacea Interview

Written by Chris Biggs

April 17, 2012 7:00 pm

Owner of Position Chrome recordings and hard drum n bass icon The Panacea talks to us about inspiration, image and future projects.

Firstly, could you tell us about your main influences and what led you to become involved in electronic music?

the panacea

I was born into a musical family. My grandmother was Tilla Briem a famous German soprano, both my grandfather and my mother were also musicians so I never knew anything else. At 4 years old I started my musical education, by the age of 8 I joined one of Germany’s best boys choirs, the ‘Windsbacher Knabenchor’, where I enjoyed a full classical education. Whilst pursuing a career as a singer I also learned to play two instruments. With the rise of techno and rave culture in Germany in 1991 I became more fascinated by the opportunities this, to me perfectly new and unheard, musical style had to offer. I resonated as strongly with some of the early techno and UK hardcore tunes as i did with pieces by Bach or Handel. Classical music still plays a vital part in my life nowadays, but i realised very early that my future lied in electronic music. I am convinced I have gone further with electronica than I ever could have done with classical music. I was neither talented nor determined enough….

The first techno tracks I heard on the radio were tunes like T99’s ‘Anastasia’, ‘James Brown Is Dead’ by L.A Style and ‘Dominator’ by Human Resource. I was shocked by the intensity of the music that made it all the way out through my little shitty radio, I used to listen to the late night shows they had on the radio at that time. This was at a time when I had choir practice for 3 hours every day, as well as school and training in piano and oboe….. Quite the revelation for me at that time!

Berlin itself is a very inspiring city, there is something new around the corner every day and the cultural opportunities are endless. Matthew Barney’s work has been inspiring me for years. Matthew Davis’ paintings are a constant source of inspiration as well. I love my friend Pisa 73’s work, Anselm Kiefer is also one of my all-time faves. Musically I still love listening to UK hardcore from the ’91- ’93 era, SunnO))) and Ruin are bands I have every record of, and I am trying to extend my collection of ’92-’94 acid.

You obviously have an extremely great passion for music and anybody that has seen you DJ will know just how much energy you put into your gigs. The crowd seem to feed off of the energy and passion you display, which is why it’s always such a memorable experience. Would you agree that a lot of DJs tend to neglect this kind of crowd interaction and acknowledgement? And how important do you feel this is?

Yes, I fear that nowadays the DJ’s role as an entertainer is often ignored and overlooked. Techno originally started out as a genre of music that overthrew the need for performers, entertainers or any kind of presentation, and with that obviously all forms of stardom or identity are overlooked. I experienced some of these early years where you had no idea who was behind the music you’d buy or hear. DJ booths were hidden away in corners and the main attraction of the night was the audience, nothing else. For a time this concept worked because the genre itself was so fresh and the music so exciting you simply didn’t need anything else. Electronic dance music has been around for more than 20 years now, and you simply come to a point where you must admit that it has established itself so much in Europe that eventually you need to apply to a crowd that might not be quite as avant-garde and radical as a few hundred Berliners dancing to anonymous music, played by an anonymous DJ behind iron bars in a bunker.

Especially in today’s over-saturated society of youth cultures you simply do not “happen” when you don’t have to offer something that makes you special, makes you stand out from the rest. The choices your audience has are so endless you need something to really capture and fascinate them. I fear that it simply is not enough any more to deliver interesting, fresh and amazing music. A concept or image will always give you more depth, not just visually, but also from a creative point of few, as it is something you can put as much thought or creativity in as your music.

While pop music is almost nothing but image, in less popular genres you have an opportunity to really work with a look or concept and I am happy to admit that a lot of thought went into my image since I started out in this game. I had a very clear idea of how I wanted to approach this business from early on and I have followed that throughout the years. Even though my transformation feels natural to me, since I’m only creating an image that I’ve always had of me, it is still a conscious decision and didn’t happen unintentionally.

I fear lots of kids who want to become DJ’s today do not think of entertaining a crowd, or consider how they will appear to an audience. Often the reasons to become a DJ have nothing to do with the need to express yourself creatively, they are often as banal as wanting to get attention from women or appearing to be cool in front of your friends, going to parties for free or getting free drinks. the DJ is an entertainer, he must entertain the crowd that have paid to have a good time. If you are a bedroom DJ you might think about how cool it is to perform to a crowd, but you don’t think about how the crowd reacts to you or how they see you. You seek to become a personality by doing the job, whereas I believe you already need to BE a personality to be able to present your music in a convincing way.

I was a raver-kid (and probably always will be) who had so much passion and love for the music that I wanted to share it with others and show them how awesome a time we can have. This passion is the basis of what i am doing today.

What are your plans for the close future?

the panaceaLooks like I have a busy summer this year with festivals all over europe including the UK. I also perform at Bangface in London on May 11th. Limewax and I are playing a hardware live act called “Goldberg Variations” at various places between now and September, which i am very excited about. Finally I am going on tour this autumn with Psychodevils, a hard techno act from Germany, which will take me around various cities in Germany, some that I have never played before since I am not frequently playing in my motherland.

On Position Chrome we are releasing Current Values “Megalomania EP” (PC073) this spring, it is a work of art and will easily be one of my favourite releases this year. Release is due around May.
I have a release forthcoming on LB Recordings later this year, its a 2 x 12” which includes my remix of Limewax’s “1/2lb”.
For the rest of this year we plan releases by myself, Cooh and Goldberg Variations, and I’m currently working on collaborations and remixes that I will have to announce at a later date.

You have a great roster of producers in the Position Chrome family, and have released some incredible records over the years that have got dance floors moving the world over. What goes through your head when it comes to selecting the artists and tracks that you sign?

It takes quite some time until I feel like I want to offer the artist a release, not only do I need to be 100% convinced of the quality of the music, I also like to develop a personal relationship, even friendship, with most of my artists. When the label wasn’t run by me, a couple of poor choices were made and I saw what damage a bad release can cause, especially in today’s market.

Once I’ve approached an artist he can send me whatever he sees fit. I do not ask for specific styles, only that the artist needs to be fully satisfied with the tunes. Since I don’t sell many and no emerging talent, a continuing relationship with the artist is in my interest. It is essential that the release will stand in time as a great work of music. I am not looking for formulated hits that are played out next month and disappear forever. A Position Chrome tune should have a timeless quality to it. Luckily we were able to release such tracks a couple of times so far with records like Current Value’s first album, the Empire EP (The Panacea & Limewax) and Cooh’s 12″‘s for example.

You mentioned earlier ‘Goldberg Variations’, a live project with Limewax. Previous releases show that you two work very well together and this is something that fans of the genre will be very excited to hear. Can you tell us any more about this project?

I have the greatest respect for Limewax, I think he is one of the true great artists in this genre and beyond that. He has absolutely no intention of narrowing down his artistic vision in favour of commercialism or danceability to a point where I am in awe. I am very lucky to have found such a like-minded producer and every time we finish a track you can hear that our way of writing music really adds up.
the panaceaGareth (‘Thrasher’ – owner of PRSPCT Recordings) approached us and asked if we wanted to DJ back2back at his big Christmas event and we decided we could go further than that with a hardware set. In preparation for that event we ended up with something like 4 new
tunes and a couple of mashups. The response to our set was so promising that we decided to continue with the live show, though it means quite some work for both of us. Playing hardware doesn’t make things easier for us and there is always a chance our whole set falls apart, but then that’s maybe part of the fun as well.

As I mentioned, I have a 4 track EP lined up on Limewax’s LB Recordings and there will be a  Goldberg Variations 12″ on Position Chrome later this year. I believe we are playing live 5-6 times this year, which is a surprise because other than the Christmas PRSPCT XL live show we haven’t done much promo at all. I guess a hardware set was something a lot of people have waited for as it is such so much more intense than playing off a laptop.

If you had to name your top 5 tracks of all time, what would they be?

1:  (Kickin Records)
2: AFX – Analogue Bubblebath (Mighty Force)
3: Mescalinum United – We Have Arrived (Planet Core Productions)
4: X-101 – Sonic Destroyer (Underground Resistance)
5: The Hypnotist – Hardcore You Know The Score (Rising High)

And your top 5 current tracks?

1: Cooh & Current Value – Misfit (???)
2: Goldberg Variations – Fuckter (Position Chrome)
3: Igor – Testify (PRSPCT)
4: Current Value & The Panacea – Make It Last (Position Chrome)
5: Gancher & Ruin – The Mark (???)

Catch The Panacea in the following places over the next few months:

Apr. 13th – Once Upon A Festival – Luxembourg
Apr. 20th – Therapy Sessions – Prague, Czech Republic
Apr. 21st – Kiev, Ukraine
Apr. 28th – St. Petersburg, Russia
Apr. 29th – Novosibirsk, Russia
May 5th –  Marseilles, France
May 19th – Berlin, Germany
May 26th – Bristol, England
Jun. 01st – Bratislava, Slovakia
Jun. 08th – Tilburg, Holland
Jun. 09th – Innsbruck, Austria
Jun. 16th – Stuttgart, Germany
Jun. 23rd – Defqon 1 Festival – Biddinghuizen, Holland
Jun. 23rd – Fucking Beat – Brussels, Belgium
Jun. 29th – Musick – Gent, Belgium
Jul. 01st – Innovation In The Sun (Therapy Sessions arena) – Lloret De Mar, Spain
Jul. 06th – Festival – Czech Republic
Jul. 07th – Festival – Slovakia
Jul. 14th – Dour Festival, Belgium
Jul. 23rd – Rotterdam, Holland

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