Tassilo and Thomas, the power duo behind Pan-Pot just released their album ‘FORTE’ on the Second State label for their 20th anniversary, celebrating the longevity of genuine love for their craft and a solid partnership. ‘FORTE,’ is designed to take listeners through the duo’s 20-year journey, presenting a collection of tracks suitable for diverse settings beyond the dancefloor. Each track tells its own unique story influenced by the duo’s ever-evolving sound over the years – something that has kept them perpetually current. 

‘FORTE’ meaning strong, translates all the good and bad times we have had, in a way that reflects on our sound. It’s a journey of reflection, reinvention, and inspiration from our travels around the world and the people we have met along the way” – Pan-Pot

The culmination marks a true milestone, serving as a resounding reminder of why the duo has been at the forefront of the scene for the last twenty years. We sat down with Pan-Pot to figure out what two decades of music sound like, reflecting on their career highlights and diving into ‘FORTE’.

Interview by Magdalena Roe 

First of all — Congrats on your 20th anniversary and being at the forefront of the techno scene for over two decades, an ultimate milestone. You started in 2005 as the duo Pan-Pot. How have you maintained momentum throughout the years?

Tassilo & Thomas: When you enjoy your job, that gives you the momentum to continue. We are lucky to have been successful as Pan-Pot and learn how to evolve, work in conjunction in the studio, as well as essentially spend a huge amount of time together both on the road and off without getting into any conflicts. Being in a duo is a challenge, but when you get on as well as we do, and complement each other, with your skills and experience, then it can be a very special relationship. And of course, playing some of the most amazing shows always helps generate passion, strive for more, learn to evolve, and always stay present with whatever is happening in the music industry.

Let’s go back in time.. How did your sound develop throughout the years? And what inspired this change?

Tassilo & Thomas: We wouldn’t say that the sound has changed, it has evolved. Our sound, direction, and technique are developing but the classic signature will always stay. We see it in how we work and function in the studio. We have always been true to what we like to produce, over the last 20 years we have managed to create some elements in our tracks that may be considered our ‘signature’ sound. To be able to identify a track from those things, we feel is important, if someone hears a track and knows who produced it, that’s quite an achievement especially with the huge amount of music being released each week, just in the electronic genre. Sound always evolves, but we feel we have a sound that has always been a trademark and recognizable. Tracks like ‘Apocalyptic Horseman’ and ‘Faces’ were tracks that enabled us to express ourselves differently than we have before. Now, our sound is harder and faster, but it’s still always got a groove. Our signature is created by a mixture of elements: vocals, SFX, the way it is mixed, break design, and arrangement.

When you reflect on your past, what was the ultimate highlight and iconic moment in your career? What memory made you most grateful?

Thomas: Actually the album Pan-o-Rama, for me, was no doubt the biggest shift and step in our career.

Tassilo: Yes, our first album was definitely a game changer for us as it made us appear on the international music scene in a way we haven’t before. Still, I remember when we first played at Streetparade in Zürich, closing the Opera stage with a few hundred thousand people in front of us. This was really a key moment for me. That moment also made me feel very grateful for what we have accomplished and that we are able to do this every day.

“Charly” (2007) and “Captain my Captain” (2010) are considered one of them. How do you reflect on the impact of these tracks and how did your sound develop since then?

Tassilo: We didn’t really see those tracks as “highlights” back then. Reflecting on it these days, we understand the impact a bit more. These tracks were a bit different from most of the music in our genre back then, and a reason why they probably stood out. We definitely have become faster since then. Not as far as many others, but I think we are still in this range of sound from back then, yet with a more functional attitude.

What motivates and drives you to create so that you keep evolving continually?

Tassilo: We love music, and we love being in the studio producing and experimenting. We love being on stage and performing – this feels like a never-ending engine. Those moments in the studio when you ‚feel‘  you have THE track are unbeatable. And there are the moments on stage when you really feel it, and the crowd feels it, this is what keeps us driving. 

(Photo credit: Dominik Hoang)

‘FORTE’ symbolizes your journey as a duo, the connection to all the people you met on your way, and above all it is a reflection of your sound, reinvention, and inspiration around the world. How do you get 20 years of sound into one album? What was especially important for you to express with your new album?

Tassilo: This project started about a year ago at our studio in Berlin, we wanted to release a collection of tracks that were a little bit different from the standard album format. We like to think that ‘FORTE’ takes the listener on a journey, through the highs and lows we have experienced in the last 20 years. There have been many of both! Whilst all the tracks are club-focused, there are many that you can listen to at the gym, in the car, or at home. That is often not the case with a lot of techno produced only for the dancefloor, a lot of it isn’t really transferable.

Thomas: It all came about very naturally. We never forced or focussed on the 20 years for this release, it was more just about the whole process of the journey we have been on for the last 2 decades. It’s about the way we work too. At the start of our career, we sat side by side in a studio, whereas now we often work from home or on the road. It’s more of an open-source project. That way of working influences our sound and the evolution of Pan-Pot.

“The tracks emulate the past, present, and future, in a range of styles, but most importantly they are all tracks that we love and enjoy playing. We wanted to create our own original music again, and this project has been long in the making to celebrate 20 years of Pan-Pot”

‘FUTURA’, ‘EVOLUTION’, and ‘NOVA’ display your new vision and direction of sound. Forward, eclectic, and groovy with a fusion of punk-rave flavors makes an undeniably unique sound. How did these tracks come to life? Which sound elements did you pay particular attention to?

Thomas:  I can give you one example here with ‘EVOLUTION‘. I remember the base of the track was a sample pack from 90’s techno. We really liked it because it reminded us of raving and being ravers on the dancefloor. We started to build beats with the typical 90’s elements and modulate them with new plug-ins. So we had the 90’s sound with a more modern influence. Its name, ‘EVOLUTION‘ fits this track so perfectly.

What are your favorite tracks and which ones do you feel most drawn to?

Thomas: For me, it‘s ‘EON’. I really love how the sound aesthetic is on this track, and it is also the alien in the whole collection.

Tassilo: ‘UTOPIA’ for me, as it’s something we haven’t done yet, I love listening to this track. I love the vibe it has, along with the build-up. ‘ARC’ is also a great functional track, creating trouble on the dancefloor, a sure shoot track if you need one. ‘CODA‘ because it’s the quintessence of the whole collection for me, and also somehow defines our future.

(Photo credit: Dominik Hoang)