PANDORIA is an anagram of PARANOID. This last band became a very successful German EBM formation during the 90s. Set up in 1987 by Michael Formberg and Stephan Tesch they released great productions like the albums “Strain” (1991) and “Sweat Blood & Tears” (1992). The duo remained active till 1993, but remained extremely popular among the EBM fans. More than twenty five years after the split Michael Formberg is active again under the PARALYZZER moniker while Stephan Tesch together with ORANGE SECTOR singer Martin Bodewell set up PANDORIA. The band got instantly signed by Infacted Recordings, released the brilliant “Crush”-EP, which is one of the best EP’s from 2020, and finally unleashed their debut album “Clean”. The sound can be described as good-old PARANOID with some extra Electro-Pop elements on top. PANDORIA is one of the most promising newcomers from the EBM scene, which I couldn’t resist to ask for an interview.
(Courtesy by Inferno Sound Diaries)
Q: How did you guys get in touch and what incited you working together?
Stephan: Martin and I were in contact several times over the past few years before we decided to start with PANDORIA. It just feels great to have someone who is on the same wave length and who has a similar past and same interests in many ways, both privately and musically. After I’ve been out of business for two decades with PARANOID, Martin was the spark that rekindled the fire in me from then. Torben from Infacted Recordings gave us green light for this project within a few seconds (without even hearing any demo). He believed in us from the start. That felt great. It was an unusual, but very flattering situation, not having any pressure or even a deadline, but knowing that the album will definitely be released as soon as we are finished. Infacted gave us the greatest possible leeway and absolute artistic freedom.
Q: Stephan, what have you been doing after the split of PARANOID and how do you look back at this successful story in your life? What do you find in PANDORIA you maybe didn’t find in PARANOID?
Stephan: The separation from PARANOID was a tough cut for me back then, but somehow to be expected. PARANOID has achieved great success worldwide in the few years of its band history. That was kind of crazy -for me as a teenager. Fortunately, apart from music, I have a variety of interests and both professional and private projects in which I can let off steam creatively without getting bored. By the way, at the time of the PARANOID split, I had prepared a number of new songs for another album, but these were never released. When I played the songs to Martin, he immediately started rearranging them. It was reminiscent of PARANOID, but it also sounded new, contemporary and very fresh. As you can hear some of these ‘hidden treasures’ found their way to the public with PANDORIA more than 20 years later.
Q: How does it feel to release new music after all these years? Do you notice significant changes & evolutions between the early 90s and today?
Stephan: It still feels great. Of course there are differences. The competition has grown very strong, but we don’t make music to prove something to anyone. These are things that come from the heart and just need to be let out without worrying about success or any market positions. We were very surprised that our single “Crush” became so successful in these Covid-times and couldn’t imagine that our album “Clean” would be so celebrated. We’re happy about that, of course, but we’re also very down-to-earth and don’t go crazy about it right away.
Q: How did the collaboration with Martin Bodewell happened? What’s the input of each member and tell us a bit more about the production of the “Clean”-album (music and vocals)?
Stephan: I like Martin’s voice very much. He’s a great singer and producer and I knew that his vocal quality is much more than pure shout singing. The first demos of mine were staged very brutal. Thanks to the incredible quality of Martin’s voice, suddenly something new and huge happened to the songs and a completely new sound emerged. We discovered how well a straight EBM sound can be combined with catchy melodies and sung vocals. Martin implements my ideas perfectly, technically and vocally. On the other hand Martin often comes up with a groovy bassline, killer drums and incredible sounds. Then I create the verse and chorus harmonies and write the lyrics as well. Martin sings, I do some backings and he directs the final production in the studio while I take care of artwork and social media. We’re a great-coordinated team in which the tasks are well distributed. Still, we have a lot of fun while working.
Q: What kind of album did you want to compose and what is “Clean” all about?
Stephane: The album is not a concept album. I didn’t think about it. All lyrics are autobiographical. The content is about love, lust, conflict, defeat, motivation, getting up, social incompetence, anger and joy. A cross-section through our entire life.
Q: I should think 2020 was not exactly the best year to release a new album. What’s your perception about the pandemic and its impact on all artistic activities, but especially live performances? What brings the further months for PANDORIA?
Stephan: We started with the first tracks in March 2019. Since we are both very meticulous, the work on our debut album took almost one year. The last songs were just finished when Covid started. In this respect, the album “Clean” is 100% ‘Covid-free produced’. The time of publication fell unpleasantly into this bad period. Since PANDORIA is primarily a studio project we hadn’t planned any shows in this regard, that’s why the break-in caused by the pandemic didn’t hurt us that much.
Many of our colleagues have to earn their living with music and also with their performances. It hits them much harder than us. What seemed very strange, however, is that all clubs are closed. We create danceable Electronic Body Music. It’s a strange feeling that people have to listen to new music and probably dance to it alone at home. Without the internet, we would hardly have received such overwhelming feedback from our fans out there.
At the moment we are working ‘quietly’ in the studio on new songs and hope for better times for the entire entertainment industry and for all artists. What is currently happening is just terrible and an existential threat to many of us.