“I’ve never followed the rules and it somehow worked out for me.” Pan Daijing speaks about performing, why genres don’t matter and her approach to feminism in the contemporary club culture.
Pan Daijing’s music has been called ritualistic, unnerving, energetic and abrasive. The artist and musician is playing shows all over Europe and is coming to Vienna this month to perform at the HYPERREALITY festival for club culture by Wiener Festwochen. She released her first EP called A Satin Sight on Bedouin Records earlier this year and is arguably one of the most striking performers in the contemporary music scene.
Amar Priganica and Marie-Claire Gagnon met the artist to ask about her relationship to the audience, unrealized projects and performing in diverse surroundings.
How would you define your relationship to the audience while you’re performing?
The concept of ‚the others‘ doesn’t really exist during my performances. I like to look into peoples‘ eyes but I don’t really see the physical human being because it feels more like I’m looking through them. That’s a very meditative experience and also the reason I love playing sets. I feel the relief of very deep energy.
I don’t want people to expect anything beforehand or have a specific concept in mind. I rather like them to have this instant and intuitive feeling or shock. But I do think about ‚the others‘ while conceptualizing a performance. If I want to deliver a message, I can’t be self-centred and have to think about the other side of the channel. I don’t want to simply develop a mood – that’s just the base. On top of that I want to trigger something more than just a feeling.
I’ve become more precise at what I want to express. It’s not just collaging different things that could fit together well. One could say that I’m becoming more efficient at expressions.
Would you say you have an academic approach regarding the conception of your work?
I think that the academic approach is legit but it doesn’t work for me. I’m not against it though. As long as something powerful comes out of it, I respect and appreciate every way to get there.
For me it’s more interesting to be the laboratory rat and to cut myself in pieces to experiment. Basically everything I know, I taught myself watching YouTube videos or digging through websites and forums. It’s a great investment in time and energy to learn things. For me experience is the mother of school. I’ve never followed the rules and it somehow worked out for me.
The Academy is kind of like a tower you step in. It’s a safe bet, you have nice facilities. You can ask questions and you will get answers. But there are some things you just can’t learn by applying patterns that have been handed to you by a teacher, like improvisation for example. And what’s the point of deconstructing a masterpiece into its smallest units? Then it’s not a masterpiece anymore. Knowing too much might make you unable to enjoy a piece in an intuitive way, which is a pity.
But the academic way can help you to understand other peoples work better in a technical way. Not as an inspiration of philosophical understanding though. You can still get the same profound message from the same piece without going to an academic school.
You play gigs in diverse spaces. How do these different surroundings influence your performances?
No matter where I perform – I invite people in. And if they accept the invitation, they’re willing to take it all.
I think a lot about the conversation between the audience and the space around them and how that would influence their perception. A big part of my performances is to get involved in this conversation and taking inspiration from every real-time interaction. It’s playful and intimate.
But of course, clubs and museums are very different since the audiences have a very different mindset. I don’t think to simply ‘fit in’ is ever an interesting way to do things. So I do not think about the surroundings by it’s function but more by it’s emotion and aura.
Are there any unrealized projects that you’ve always wanted to fulfill?
There are too many but that’s what’s so exciting about what I do. I feel really lucky that this is my profession and I get to do this 24/7 – from writings in my little notebook to real projects. There are so many things that are still like a baby but I already see how they will grow into a powerful man. I feel overwhelmed because I can’t wait to sacrifice myself for each of them like a mother. But I also know that patience is very important, especially since I’m so critical about my work. To take time to make something I won’t regret. Sometimes it’s also frustrating because I’m realizing that there are things that require collaboration. I just moved to Europe a year and half ago and China is a completely different thing from that. So for me a lot of the things are still fairly new. Getting to work with a film maker, a designer or choreographer that you like doesn’t happen in one day. I really appreciate everyone that has supported me and reached out to me. This gives me the strength to write down more crazy ideas without denying the possibility of making them come true.
One last question: what are your thoughts on feminism in the context of contemporary club culture?
The first thing other females want to talk about 80% of the time is my gender. I feel like I’m being used as a weapon of their speech. Because of who I am but not my work. I don’t want to be victimized.
If you don’t value the work of an artist you shouldn’t book this person just because of a female quota. Why not just pick some people that make good music – whatever their gender is.
So my way of being a feminist is just not following the rules of the business. I care about music, not gender.
Text by Amar Priganica & Marie-Claire Gagnon
Photography by Nadine Fraczkowski