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Patrice Bäumel: “Art and music are our most potent weapons to initiate positive change”

Patrice Bäumel has carved a unique path through the European and global techno world. He’s the Beatport chart-topping producer and international top-flight DJ who can comfortably fit in with the stellar cast of Global Underground compilers/mixers.

This is a man who cites the dark experimental grind of Andy Stott and the liquid metal explosions of Autechre as key influences. These days he’s straightedge and level-headed, yet is still in love with the Dionysian extremes of club culture, and remains a livewire behind the decks, forging an electric connection with dancers. And for all that, he is a strategic and studious thinker, he’s in thrall to the magic of randomness, and insistent that club music must be driven by bravery and radicalism.

As our guest for the 900th episode of the EG Podcast, we sat down with him to talk about this milestone, music, politics, and his latest party concept, HALO.  His next event will take place on Saturday, July 23rd at ReelWorks Denver, starting at 8 PM. You can purchase your tickets here.

EG: Thanks for joining us, we are so happy to have you as our guest for our monumental EG.900 mix! For the mix, you chose to use a part of your set recorded live at Fusion Festival. Can you tell us why you chose this mix and about your experience at the festival?

Patrice Bäumel: Yes, this set was recorded on the Panne Eichel Floor, which is run by the Kater Blau crew in Berlin. I feel that a live mix is the most authentic way to represent a DJ. There is nowhere to hide. I had dropped some acid earlier that day and felt open and connected to the crowd. In my view, Fusion is one of the top 3 festivals in the world. Its inclusivity goes beyond what is commonly understood by the term – age, looks, and economic status simply do not matter. Come as you are and be part of the tribe. So powerful. The festival is on the grounds of an old army base that was purchased by the festival’s owners. It has its cultural roots on the far left of the political spectrum. There is no advertising on site and the vendors are small family-style businesses providing affordable, homemade catering. The festival is meat-free.

EG: Talking about politics, what is your view on the current state of people getting pulled from lineups because of the lack of voice on certain political issues?

Patrice Bäumel: If Putin is as dangerous as most people think he is, then Russians have to be very careful of what they say in public. It is not easy to “take a stand” if your and your family’s safety is on the line. People can not be held accountable for the – mostly non-consensual – actions of their governments. I also feel that the unifying power of music is diminished when we get caught up in politics without having the power to truly influence things. The game of media and politicians is to dictate what we should think about. All it creates is fear, rage, and division in our hearts and minds. We then manifest this negative energy into the world – even though we live under the impression that raising awareness is a good thing. It is a trap that keeps us from thinking in terms of solutions and creating unity. Art and music are our most potent weapons to initiate positive change.

EG: What do you think about ‘inclusion quotas’ for festivals? Do they push us forward or hold us back?

Patrice Bäumel: I understand the motivation behind having quotas. They try to right a wrong, to compensate for existing imbalances. Ultimately, though, they replace discrimination with discrimination. We should aim to create an equal playing field to give the same opportunities for everyone to become a musician. Free education and a commitment to respect every human being equally go a long way. But art and music should, in my view, always be a meritocracy, where the best artists, regardless of gender or ethnicity, get awarded the responsibility to perform in front of people. The goal is to have our minds blown, not to pass out participation medals in equal proportion to existing demographics. Competitiveness is needed to push humanity forward. This is the way of nature itself – natural selection works in exactly the same way.

EG: At certain festivals and clubs these days I feel there are a lot of egos bouncing around, especially in the backstage and VIP areas. Have you also noticed this and what’s your take on it?

Patrice Bäumel: It’s a double-edged sword. On one hand, this whole VIP culture capitalizes on the loneliness and the need to connect and feel appreciated, especially that of wealthier people. On the other hand, a lot of beautiful productions wouldn’t be possible without selling tables. Different product tiers exist in many industries. VIP offerings effectively subsidize affordable general admission tickets, which is important in economically challenging times like these. However, a certain amount of self-reflection should always be applied. Being part of the VIP club will offer comfort. For true connection, the dance floor is a better place.

“Art and music should, in my view, always be a meritocracy, where the best artists, regardless of gender or ethnicity, get awarded the responsibility to perform in front of people. The goal is to have our minds blown, not to pass out participation medals in equal proportion to existing demographics”

EG: The Coronavirus created a lot of loneliness and we all lost that connection of being united on the dance floor. How did you handle the whole situation?

Patrice Bäumel: To me, this is the first big test of our generation. It is a war being waged on our hearts and minds by our own governments and media. At first, I went through a phase of fear and trying to make sense of things but at some point, I had to flip the switch and simply accept the situation for what it was and commit to adapt and thrive in the face of uncertainty and what feels like a societal collapse. It’s game on, we are at a new, more difficult level. I am 100% committed to staying within my power and remaining a free and positive human being.

EG: What advice would you give to DJs who might need help with their mindset?

Patrice Bäumel: Whatever you think about the most, you manifest into existence. Do you want that to be fear and anger? No, they contribute nothing positive to your life and that of those around you. As an artist, you are a medium or channel that needs to be clean and open. For this, you have to reach a state of internal peace. Easier said than done. What helps me is to establish good habits like sleeping at least 6-7 hours a night and not pulling all-nighters in the studio. Go outside, move your body, don’t consume TV and newspapers, and be careful with social media. Make a conscious effort to be off your phone sometimes. Also, don’t show up drunk at work!

 

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EG: We see some DJs struggle with their sense of self-worth which is linked to their mindset. You see them asking for ridiculous riders and demanding so much of promoters…What do you think of this?

Patrice Bäumel: My personal guideline: When your rider costs more than the fee of the warmup DJs, something is off. In many parts of the world, an exotic rider is incredibly difficult to source. Can you really only subsist on 3 bottles of vintage Dom Perignon? You are here to work, you are not royalty but owe everything to the people in front of you. Yes, absolutely include the things in the rider that help you perform at 100% but don’t abuse your host’s hospitality. The role of an artist comes with a lot of privileges, but it is healthy to remind ourselves that we get to carry this torch for a limited amount of time before passing it on to the next generation of artists, along with all the adoration and privileges. It’s never been about us personally. I find this sort of humility liberating, and it also keeps me from being nervous before a show. It’s not about me, I’m just here to do my part, just like the sound engineer or the barkeeper.

EG: As a former Amsterdam local what do you think of how the scene here keeps evolving with clubs closing like Trouw and most recently De Marktkantine? 

Patrice Bäumel: Money talks, and during economically prosperous times, clubs close because they can’t compete with selling that space for apartment blocks that will generate millions, as was the case with de Marktkantine. I suspect we are entering a phase of economically difficult times, which will offer a fresh opportunity at a grassroots level – with affordable, empty commercial space – left behind by failed businesses – waiting to be filled with new ideas and initiatives.

“B2B sets are unpredictable. I think communication, the willingness to give and take, and leaving ego out of the equation are key to successful B2B sets. You have to play in service of each other and attempt to build a story”

EG: We know you are doing some B2B’s with some of our industry finest, like Guy J for the WeAreLo&t festival in Toronto in August, and Sasha for an all-day long party at ADE. How did you decide to do these and how do you prepare for B2B’s?

Patrice Bäumel: B2B’s for me are a playful way to bond with my colleagues, never a marketing or business move. I would not play novelty B2B’s with DJs I am unfamiliar with and who do not share my philosophy to some degree. I have played B2B with Guy J a few times, we gel really well. To make the festival lineup in Toronto work and give every artist the time they deserved, we decided to share a slot. As for Sasha, the opportunity popped up and curiosity got the better of me. I have no expectations but I think that Sasha’s exceptional musical intelligence will make for an interesting pairing. I prepare for B2B’s by listening to recent sets of my partners, but also to have a broad selection of tracks ready to be flexible and able to react to many scenarios. B2B sets are unpredictable. I think communication, the willingness to give and take, and leaving ego out of the equation are key to successful B2B sets. You have to play in service of each other and attempt to build a story.

EG: You have had a lot of amazing tracks and remixes released over the years, most recently the track ‘HALO 1’, named after your new club concept. It’s a beautiful track featuring Sylvain Chauveau, how did this track come to be?

Patrice Bäumel: I heard Sylvain on a cover he made of Lykke Li’s ‘I Follow Rivers’ and loved his tone of voice and hint of French accent. I invited him into the studio and this was the result.

EG: On July 23rd, you’ll be launching your new solo night HALO, can you tell us about the concept behind it?

Patrice Bäumel: HALO is meant as a way to connect to my audience in a more meaningful way. I will be playing long sets, the DJ booth will be close to people, and there will be no distracting visuals in order to get people out of that mode of staring in one direction and consuming content. Instead, I want there to be a feeling of unity, adventure, and kindness.

Patrice Bäumel is bringing his HALO concept to Denver with an all-night-long immersive experience in collaboration with Whirling Dervish Productions. The event will take place on Saturday, July 23rd at ReelWorks Denver, starting at 8 PM. You can purchase your tickets here.

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