Start the PANIC! – The ‘Gabber-era’, Freestyle and 25 Years of music with Panic.
Dropping ‘phat’ beats since the 90’s, Dennis Copier, or better known as revolutionary Hardcore artist Panic, is unquestionably one of the genre’s longest-standing figureheads. Known for his eclectic signature style that pushes the boundaries, Panic is no stranger to the ‘F word,’ specifically Freestyle.
Reaching the huge milestone of 25 years in the industry, earlier this year Panic threw a legendary bash which celebrated this incredible achievement. With more events coming in 2017 as well as a special ‘25 Year’ documentary, we decided to holla at Panic for an exclusive interview!
– Hey Panic! So glad to have you on Alive at Night. First of all, congrats on the huge 25 year milestone. How does it feel to have created such a long-lasting steady career in Hardcore music?
It feels great and I can look back on many amazing moments, with some huge highlights amongst these moments. I love my job and every weekend I’m going to gigs with a huge smile on my face and leaving with an even bigger smile! And even after twenty-five years of being in the game I’m still hungry for more; I’ve got so much energy to continue going on for a long time and I’m full of creative ideas and plans!
– You threw a legendary bash in January in the Maassilo Rotterdam; can you speak about the night a little more?
It was even better than perfect. Leading up to the night I put in a lot of effort to promote the event, but in the end it was all worth it. The preparations were already fun to do and I knew it was going to be a cool party, but you never know how the night itself will turn out. I feel proud to say that it was beyond awesome; all the pieces came together on the night and the atmosphere was so overwhelming.
So many people from the past who I hadn’t seen for a long time showed up, but also a lot of next-generation ravers also had the time of their lives at the end. In the end I received so many positive reactions and I’m still smiling whenever I think back to Panic in Rotterdam :). This was certainly in my top 3 parties ever!
– On a scale of 1-10 how ‘turnt’ did you get on the night?
10+!!! I don’t really have any wild or drunk stories, but I did do my stage-dive again, haha! I arrived at the venue at around 21:00 and was one of the last to leave – so I really enjoyed it from beginning until the end! I want to go back ;-).
– Will this be the only 25 year celebration for you, or can fans expect more of these parties?
My fans can definitely expect more. I’ve always organised little concepts called Paniek! (Panic in Dutch) in small venues throughout The Netherlands, however this year I’m focussed on continuing the ’25 Years’ concept. Who knows, you might see me somewhere across Europe! 😉
– Although you still release music today, you are often programmed to perform millennium and early Hardcore sets; what do you think about this?
I like performing these earlier sets a lot; for me, the variation of styles is perfect and keeps me creative. I like to mix it up and play Old-school (the really old techno sound, where it all started back in 92’), Early Rave, Happy Hardcore, Millennium, Hardcore or Freestyle. During my Freestyle sets I even like to drop Raw Hardstyle tracks! With this approach to performing, you really have to stay up to date with the entire Hard Dance sound and the many genres and this leaves you with a huge range of musical knowledge! 🙂
– From your point of view, can you define the term ‘millennium Hardcore?’
The term Millennium Hardcore is nothing more than Hardcore music made during the period of 2000 to 2010. To be honest, it’s a name of an era of Hardcore. I’m not so sure what we’ll have to call the Hardcore sound produced after 2010, haha. Anyway, let’s just say it’s all Hardcore. To me it makes no difference if the track was made in 1997, 2004 or in 2016.
– Can you speak about your first ever performance?
My first performance was in 1992 and I was 17 years old when I began ‘performing’ in a youth centre a few blocks from my house in Southern Rotterdam. They needed a new DJ, because it wasn’t busy in the club and I had the task to get more people inside. Mind you, I had four weeks to do this!
The first night there were 30 people, the week after there was 80 and within six weeks the club was totally packed! Every Saturday it was crowded and I became the resident of this new Hardcore club in Rotterdam where history was written. For these club performances I wasn’t nervous at all, however before my first performance at a big ‘rave’ I was so nervous. It was in 1993 and I was performing in the legendary Energiehal (Rotterdam) at Terrordome in front of 6,000 people! The performance was great and from then on, my career skyrocketed.
– Can you speak about the Hardcore movement back when you began DJ’ing and producing?
I became involved during the ‘start,’ back when there was only House music. At the time, Marc Acardipane and Paul Elstak, as well as some other producers, were distorting the kicks and sounds, which sparked the birth of Hardcore music. Back then, House was divided into ‘mellow’ (the soft side of house music) and ‘Hardcore,’ which was also known as Gabber. I felt more of a connection with the harder stuff, so I continued playing the rougher tracks.
Around this time, people were also rocking the signature ‘gabber’ look – the Australian training suits, glasses and the shaved head. By the way, these suits were really comfortable to dance in, haha. I wasn’t really a gabber; I had more of an interest in standing behind the decks instead of the front. I now realise that I was there for the beginning of something great – I was there, at the beginning of the Hardcore movement, which is still here and will never disappear!
– You began your career at quite a young age. Did your family and friends approve of what you were doing?
Yes – my mother really supported me. At the age of fifteen I brought a mixer and two turntables; one with pitch control and one without and this is how I learnt beat matching. This was pretty difficult without two turntables WITH pitch control, so you really had to know the tempo of each record. I remember I’d always open my bedroom window so that everybody could hear my music; of course not everyone was happy about this, but back then I already knew that it was my calling to share music with people. 🙂
– What are the biggest misconceptions people have about your career as a DJ and producer?
I really have no idea, haha. I feel as though a lot of people had the misconception that I was DJ Lars, my fellow team-mate from the Forze DJ Team. A lot of people called me Lars and I’d always answer “No, I’m the other one,” haha. The funny thing is that we didn’t even look like each other!
– What are the biggest differences between back then and today?
The biggest difference was that back in the days it was all very simple and everything revolved around the music. Nowadays it’s also about how you perform on stage, as well as how you’re doing on social media. For artists to succeed now, they really need the X-Factor – the total package.
Also, at parties, the stages are like film sets and packed with lasers, fireworks and other stuff! Unlike today’s huge endshows, back in the days you only had speakers and lights, that’s it! 😉
– If you could press pause on any era in Hardcore, when would it be and why?
The 90’s for sure. What a great time it was! Everything was new and exciting. I’d love to go back in time, however with the knowledge that we have now. 🙂 But to be honest, I probably wouldn’t actually want to hit pause on any era; I always like to look ahead and focus on the future, because no change means no progress!
– With the re-emergence of Thunderdome, the whole ‘gabber’ movement (and the fashion) is starting to be considered rather ‘trendy.’ What are your thoughts about this?
It’s cool that there’s still an Early Rave scene and even cooler that the new generation also loves this music. This way, it helps promote the Old-school sound and everything around it. It’s cool to see that people still love to dance to the sound that Hardcore begun with – that means that the impact is still there. I don’t necessarily think that the return of Thunderdome will be as big as it was back then per se, but for the ‘die-hards’ it’s a real gift :).
– Not only do you perform at Hardcore parties, but also at numerous Freestyle concepts. How do you feel about these two movements being so closely related?
For me, spinning Freestyle sets is a really cool thing to do because it goes back to how it all started in the clubs where DJ’s would play all kinds of dance music in one set. There’s no rules, no expectations – you can play whatever you like! For me, I can use all my experience and knowledge in my sets; however, you also have to keep up to date with all kinds of genres. Hardcore, Jumpstyle, Hardstyle, Raw, Trap, Drum ‘N Bass and of course, Early Rave and Old-school! Something I feel is important to point out is that Freestyle isn’t really a genre; it’s a collective name for all the Hard Dance genres played in one area. 😉
Overall, I mostly play Hardcore. In the Hardcore movement there’s a huge split between ‘mainstream’ and ‘Uptempo,’ but I feel as though mainstream Hardcore is beginning to move towards Freestyle as more Hardcore party promoters are programming more Uptempo onto their line-ups. I personally prefer a balance of both, so both mainstream Hardcore and Uptempo being played in one area.
– For you, what’s the best thing about performing a Freestyle set?
The best thing is that you can play whatever you want, with no boundaries. It’s cool to spin all kinds of styles because I have a wide range of musical taste and I always like to surprise the crowd with unexpected, yet cool tracks!
– Before we wrap this interview up, can you tell our readers what you’re currently working on in the studio?
I’m working on several things now, including collabs with The Viper, Paul Elstak, Kit Hype and a couple of other artists. I also just launched my online merchandise shop at www.panicshop.nl. Finally, I’m working on a documentary surrounding my ‘25 Years’ as a DJ, as well as some solo concepts such as ‘Start The Panic’ (Early Rave) and Paniek, which is a Freestyle concept for the smaller clubs.
– Finally, what did you eat for breakfast today?!
I had a smoothie with oatmeal, milk, banana, strawberries and blueberries, as well as two sandwiches with pate.
A big thanks to the legendary DJ Panic for this interview. We’d like to wish him the very best with his ‘25 Years’ documentary and we also look forward to catching some of his performances during the upcoming festival season! Stay up to date with everything Panic-related at the social media links below.