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Pantha du Prince: “Gaia is not the old Pantha anymore”

We sat down with Hendrik Weber aka Pantha du Prince to talk about how his forthcoming album Garden Gaia transformed him as an artist – and as a person.

Hendrik connecting with nature. Photo: Frédéric Boudin

What does Garden Gaia mean to you conceptually?

Her. God. Gaia. For me, Gaia is planet Earth, and the way that we are connected to the everyday is the field of life, the reason why we are alive. Gaia is also us and we are also the garden. Together, we are always in a process of self-creation and co-creation, and this is what the record is about – putting into focus the idea that we are made out of and reflected in this ecological field in as much as we are contributing to its constant recreation.

The majority of the world lives in urban environments. Given that density, are you conceptualising a certain decentralisation to find that connection?

Gaia is also us and we are also the garden.

No, it’s absolutely made for constant connection – wherever you are – it’s made for cities and all kinds of environments. God, Gaia, is not exclusive to nature for me. It’s wherever you are. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the forest or if you are with 500 people in one building. I’m not saying you should be in nature. I’m not saying you should be a gardener. I really want to have an open view of things and not get taken in too much by all the ideology that surrounds this planet. I’m not an activist in the sense that I would chain myself to a tree. I have a deep respect for that, but I personally feel like we really need a deeper connection. I’m not saying we need to protect anything specifically. The music is about the idea that we create this world and this world creates us simultaneously. So, we really have to understand that everything around us has feelings, and that means you can approach anything with the same empathy and emotional status as you would approach a human being.

Gardens are defined by human interventions. How do you contend with a concept constrained to the realm of pastiche?

It’s a very interesting question because I think that the reason I make music is not to get across what I want but rather what I have experienced in a certain time, the topics I was confronted with and the things that I was drawn to. The music speaks for itself. It creates atmospheres, it creates buildings and it creates spaces where it can move and it creates stories that you can follow. Hopefully, it creates a field of ideas that I have to verbalise now. If you listen to the album, ideally you would have kind of direct access to those ideas, but I don’t need people to understand. I am totally fine if you want to say “I have no idea what this nature freak is talking about, but I can dance to his music” or “I can make love to his music” or even “I don’t like his music”.

I don’t care as long as people have a connection to it, and a personal context. The music is not me, it’s expressed through me, but you can access it however you like. Like a garden, the music is a reminder of what you see in the world at large. We each create that garden the moment we interpret it. Now, we are sculpting nature in the way that we think would help us survive. Yet, the fact that we create more food than we ever need and still so many people are starving tells me that we do not place enough value in human beauty and that we are too focused on ideas of domination and ownership. Nature is constantly overproducing and for me that means we also have the opportunity to sculpt our ‘Garden Gaia’ in the image of abundance.

Musically, Garden Gaia seems to follow a subtle timeline. A circadian trip, both organic and yet obviously manipulated. Do you have a sense of how you came to where you find yourself on this record?

It’s funny because it’s a trip, man. I listen to the album and I can honestly say that this never happened to me before, that an album of my own really takes me away when I listen to it. On other albums I did there was always this point where I realised that I fed them in a certain direction. I might be more drawn to the dance side or maybe to the conceptual side, but this one feels as though I’m being taken by an invisible hand. As if someone, or something, is leading me through this garden. This time, I finally allowed myself to get out of the idea that it should be working like a kind of DJ mix. I really can’t tell you much about how it was composed because it wasn’t conceptualised; it’s closer to a response to every moment, and during the recording of the whole album, I always had this feeling: “Who’s doing this right now? Is it me?” I’m still not really sure, but I can say that making this album was so easy because it really flowed out of me.

Is it possible that the concept of the invisible hand is just a way to remove yourself from a narrative of your own creation?

Yeah. In the end, you know, it’s hard work to be honest, staying present and making time your ally because I lose all my energy very, very easily and I get caught up by other things all the time. So, part of the beauty of Garden Gaia for me is that I realised that, sometimes, you have to burn out to understand how you burn.

Now that you have finished Garden Gaia, do you feel differently about your art?

Absolutely. It’s crazy how this time it feels as if it is stuck to me, it’s like a child that is constantly telling me sweet stories. This is not like some esoteric bullshit. It’s just how I observe things around me and also the I way want the world to be. So, I created it for myself because music has the potential to open moments of change through providing opportunities to step outside yourself. I think that what I’m good at is probably just translating some fragments of my own observations into music, but at the same time, I’m also stuck at certain points in my life, and I have times where I’m almost trying to kill myself because it’s so fucking painful, but I’m always telling myself it’s worth it and I know that because I really opened up myself here in a way that will transform me completely. It’s a fantastic new level in me, in how I perceive the world and how the world perceives me. You will see it in the music videos. You will see it in my appearance. You will see it in everything that surrounds me in this ‘Garden of Gaia’. Gaia is not the old Pantha anymore, and personally, I think I can say that I have stepped out of this record as a transformed person and as an artist.

  • Hendrik Weber, best known for his work under the aliases Pantha du Prince, Panthel, and Glühen 4 is a German electronic music producer. His albums Conference of Trees and Black Noise are artistic investigations into nature. His newest, Garden Gaia is his richest work yet.