Photo courtesy of Photo Company
Pan-Pot, the friendly German duo consisting of Tassilo Ippenberger and Thomas Benedix celebrated ten years in techno last year. It was an ill-fated party in 2005 that ultimately led to their first release on Mobilee—Copy and Paste. Since then Pan-Pot has released a number of original tracks and remixes, and have proven to be a staple sound in the ever evolving underground techno scene.
Their six-hour marathon sets are filled with dark, driving bass lines that make the minimal techno crowd go nuts. Upon entering Coda on Saturday at 11:45 PM, the lineup outside was already huge, and the vibe in the venue was hammered with kick drums and excitement. I take a shot, and make my way through the (already hot and sweaty) crowd to meet and chat with Pan-Pot.
THUMP: How's everything going today?
Tassilo: We are very tired.
Thomas: [Laughs] A little tired from yesterday, and the day before.
You guys were in San Francisco the day before, and then you were in Montreal last night at Stereo. Last time you were there you played for about six hours or so.
Tassilo: Six and a half yesterday. From 4:30 AM until around 10:30 AM or 11 AM. Something like that.
Thomas: Yeah 4:30 AM until about 10:30 AM. Actually the same as last time.
What sort of planning goes into such a long set like that, if any at all?
Tassilo: I mean we definitely always prepare for our sets. If it's like two hours or six hours, it doesn't matter, we've collected a lot of tracks. Stereo is known for their techno crowd, so as a matter of fact it's really fun to play. They have the best monitor sound system in the world in my opinion.
It's rumored to be the 14th best sound system in the world.
Tassilo: Yeah so you just get in there and you feel comfortable. And that's really important you know, for playing—especially in Stereo, you have the feeling you can play whatever you want to play, techno-wise, you know.
Obviously sound is a very important element for any club, arguably the most important. So you were just recently at Time Warp Festival last week for your third consecutive year, I've wanted to go to that festival for years. What can we expect at the next one?
Thomas: Time Warp is really special. Actually it's just like…
Tassilo: I have to say best indoor festival in the world.
Best in the world?
Thomas: Yeah it is. Everyone who is important from the scene is there and you are meeting each other, it's kind of like a business festival, you know?
So it's a techno festival that is also a casual business meeting at the same?
Thomas: [Laughs] Yeah everyone is partying together.
Tassilo: Like a little tiny WMC, or what WMC used to be; you meet everybody, and it's so compact. One night, everyone sleeps at the same hotel. Everyone meets there, in the lobby.
Wait, you mean to say that everyone sleeps at the same hotel?
Thomas: Everyone stays in the same hotel, no one sleeps in the hotel!
Tassilo: [Laughs] Well yeah, if you want to go into detail. It's always the same procedure actually—you arrive there in the afternoon, everyone's there in the hotel lobby.
Obviously they're all excited to see each other and meet the new attendees.
Tassilo: Yeah! You meet someone you didn't meet before, or haven't seen in a year or something—it's crazy. And then at around seven or eight at night, everyone goes to dinner, and then everybody parties together.
Thomas: This year it ends at three in the afternoon, on Sunday, but it's long enough because everyone is going to the official after party. And everyone stays there for the next 12 hours or so, fucking crazy.
I want to get to know a little bit more about the both of you, about Pan-Pot. You guys met at the Berlin school of audio engineering. Can you tell me a little more about that?
Thomas: If you want to know a little more about our name, in technical terms it's a knob from the mixer called Panoramic Potentiometer. Since we both studied audio engineering, and were looking for a name, we opened this audio engineering dictionary. We put a finger down and it was on that name. It's not really special but, the nickname for Panoramic Potentiometer is pan pot… So you know it's kind of a complex meaning, but easy at the same time.
Since 2005, you've been releasing heavily on Mobilee. You just started up your new label, Second State. Tell me more about Second State.
Tassilo: About five years ago we had already started talking about how we wanted to have our own label at some point, and then we had our 10-year anniversary last year. 10 years of Pan-Pot. We started talking about our own label seriously at the beginning of last year, and it took us about a year to plan everything and get it started. The idea of the label is to feature new artists, because in the beginning we thought about only releasing our own stuff. For example we have Clint Stewart, our really close friend from San Francisco who moved to Berlin last year, and he's doing the third release on Second State. It's more or less a label for our friends and us. We get tracks from some really famous artists and we didn't actually accept any of their releases so far. We have Stephan Hinz and Philipp Ruhmhardt in our studio. They are friends, and they're fresh. We're looking for fresh artists, and fresh producers. That's the main idea for right now.
Fresh faces with a new sound?
Tassilo: The spectrum of sound is pretty wide open—it's obviously techno oriented. We have our release out now which is techno, then another techno release, then Clint Stewart is going to release something in June that's going to be more of a summer feel.
That sounds wonderful—I'm a big fan of fun summer sounds. You already mentioned some of the artists we should look out for on Second State—anybody else we should be checking out?
Tassilo: Well for now it's just Clint Stewart, Hinz & Ruhmhardt, and just us. We're definitely receiving a lot of demo material right now too, but there are no new artists… yet.
Thomas: When we bring someone on our label, we take it upon ourselves to take care of them. We are really precise with the demos, and we listen to all them because we're looking out for potential people in the future. It's hard to find someone brand new.
Tassilo: We also want to be able to work together for the long run.
So you don't want it to be a temporary one-off release here and there sort of thing.
Tassilo: It shouldn't be just a label to release music, we also want to make our label a family.
Between working on your label and travelling so much, you've clearly still found time to get into the studio. How do you manage all of that?
Thomas: I have no idea sometimes. We are working every day, from Monday to Sunday— maybe a half day on Sunday. Mostly were always doing something on the road, and our manager does a lot. It's definitely important to keep a good balance.
The last question I have for you is about Pan-O-Rama, your last studio album. Can we look forward to hearing a new full length album from you in the future?
Tassilo: Yeah, we're working on some stuff right now. I can't say a lot about it, but since the first album in 2007 we started three other albums, and then they never came out because we always came to a point where we took too long. For an album, you only have a certain period of time—like a half-year let's say. If you take longer, it's going to get old again.
Yeah. It might go stale.
Tassilo: Exactly. So we have like three unfinished albums on the studio computers… But right now, we are seriously working on something.
You can follow Serena Passion on Twitter: @SerenaPassion
Solomun Made His Canadian Debut and You Probably Should Have Been There
Gaiser Likes the Kind of Music That Gives You Goosebumps
Toronto Just Banned Electronic Dance Music Concerts on its Public Grounds