Patrice Baumel has had a pretty damn diverse upbringing, having grown up in a small Eastern German town of Freital that was riddled with political conflict he witnessed during the time the Berlin wall fell. Seeing both sides of Capitalism and Communism have given him a sound sense of character, and from that he has a distinctive character within his music and his performances.
He’s had a hugely successful career since – as a guest on BBC Radio One’s Essential Mix series, a single voted as one of the best tracks of the year and releases on Kompakt.
We spoke with Patrice Baumel while he travelled to Australia about the powerful simplistic inspiration of both visual and musical artists from Picasso to his own father, a music journalist, making the move to the “live-and-let-live” Amsterdam and how body language and the energy feedback loop is the key to propelling you and your audience to great heights.
New Rhythms: What was it like day-to-day living in your small town of Freital?
Pautrice: Life was not that different from any blue collar small town. Especially from a kid’s perspective, I had a totally normal childhood, spending most of my days outside with my mates, school, not much else. We didn’t had much – nobody did – and since I did not know better it didn’t bother me.
New Rhythms: What was the political unrest in the area of the East German region and how did it impact you as an artist?
The political unrest only came into play towards the end, everything happened suddenly in the year before the Berlin wall fell. The mass demonstrations in all major cities got bigger and bigger, it was amazing to witness the people reclaim their power from the ruling elite. That is something which seems completely unfathomable today, where most of us seem content with casting their vote once every four years and hoping for the best. We don’t really know our own power anymore.
All of this has influenced me more as a person than as an artist. Living in different political systems affords me an outside perspective which helps me detect the subtle ways in which we are being manipulated by the ruling elite, how we are being groomed to become a certain type of citizen. In East Germany, that manipulation took place in schools and all media outlets. In capitalism, our values of home, family and a 9-to-5 lifestyle are being instilled into us via advertising and Hollywood movies. Being aware of this turned me into a relatively independent thinker. Maybe that somehow found its way into my music. Long answer haha…
New Rhythms: Your Dad was a music journalist. What were your influences and is there any we can hear now in your music? How did he inspire and encourage you?
Patrice: He simply exposed me to all kinds of music and let me find my own path. Training my musical ear from an early age has proven to be very valuable resource. It has taught me to translate emotion into music and vice versa.
New Rhythms: Techno has common characteristics, some of which are being industrial and often dark. Can you explain the elements of your own techno style?
Patrice: Playing with contrasts of warm vs cold, silent vs loud as well as using the power of hypnosis through repetition.
New Rhythms: Tell us about some of the artists, whether musical or visual, who have been inspiring you and why?
Patrice: There are many. Painter Gerhard Richter inspired me with his smear painting method, which is a way of taming chaos and randomness into something beautiful. Picasso blew my mind with his ability to constantly reinvent himself, even at a high age. Following Mark Rothko’s path from being an ordinary figurative painter to reducing his style until nothing but a revolutionary, very powerful and simple essence remained has had a major impact on me. Powerful simplicity is what I seek in my music.
New Rhythms: What made you move to Amsterdam? Can you tell us about the culture and also the defining moment that made you decide to make the move?
Patrice: What attracted me to the city was the happiness, the live-and-let-live vibe and room to be whoever you want to be. I initially wanted to stay for a few months before returning to Germany, but within weeks of getting a taste of the city I knew there was no way back.
New Rhythms: Tell us about what you think of body language during sets, energy and going B2B – what are the key ingredients in creating an infectious chemistry on the dance floor and why are these things so important?
Patrice: Body language is the most honest reflection of how an artist feels on the inside. The crowd picks up on that immediately. In my view this is what separates the elite from the rest. Open physical communication creates the energy feedback loop with the crowd which unites the room and propels energy to great heights. B2B is a skill that needs to be developed between two artists. Egos need to subside, team spirit is crucial. A lot of festival promoters booking novelty B2B sets for promotional purposes actually hurt the quality of their party because these sets often lack cohesion.
New Rhythms: What have you been working on and what should we keep an ear out for?
I have been working on the latest instalment of the Global Underground compilation, a new single for Kompakt and remixes for Claptone and Fairmont. All of this is planned for release in the coming three months.