Daniel Pannemann Interview
When Arthur asked me to interview Daniel, I first felt cool about it but then almost immediately started freaking out. I would have to write about my friend, a guy I’ve also been working with and known for many years… You’d think that would be easy but he’s a very private person that doesn’t like attention at all. I knew I’d have to ‘pull the worms out of the nose’ as we say in French, which basically means to pry the answers out of him. I decided to calm down, bake some cookies and think about it later. That same evening I called him and we agreed on meeting a couple days later at my place as the coronavirus lockdown just kicked in. A few minutes into our chat I realised that he’d started 2020 like a true champion: going through a break up in the first hours of the New Year, then having to and a new apartment and move in, then going on a last minute skate trip in the midst of a pandemic, only to make it back just in time for the lockdown. The interview went on for way longer than expected…
– Sara Parson Texas
Daniel Pannemann: Are you already recording?
Sara: Yes, we’re good to go.
First things first, who have you been shooting with for this article? How did I end up having to interview you (both of us laughing)?
Just Fidi actually (Friedjof Feye). Do you know him? He’s one of my best friends.
No, I don’t think so.
What?! He’s one of my best friends, the tall blonde guy, the freak, the crazy one. You’ve never met him? (Daniel shows me a photo) You don’t know him?! That’s crazy.
Looks like it finally happened!
I found the only person you don’t know which is strange ‘cause he’s around a lot; I travel with him often…
Ha ha, I certainly can’t know everybody. Tell me more about this project, where did you go the past few months?
I think it started last September in Croatia during Vladimir.
But, he wasn’t with us?!
No but after being there for the Vladimir Film Festival I decided to call Fidi to tell him we had to go back to Croatia because it’s amazing. Everything is cool there, cheap food, good weather, the spots have no people at all, and seriously you never see people, or at least nobody our age.
It’s pretty packed there in summer but from October it’s so chill and good to skate. So, what did you do? Rent a place?
No, we were camping!
So you just went straight back to Pula then?
Yes, a week later or something. This time we flew to Split and Fidi was already there waiting for us. He has this cool camping van and we drove up almost to Pula, along the coast. It was really amazing; one of the best trips ever for me and it was my first camping trip. Wait, is it a camping trip when you’re in a van though?
Yes I guess it is!
I thought it might not be for me, but it turned out to be so sick… I’m always the first guy up in the morning, always, so being up and able to go straight outside is already perfect for me!
There is no hanging out in the living room, which I hate… Having to wait until everyone is up on trips drives me crazy.
Who did you go with?
Just Fidi and Nils (Brauer), the three of us, that’s the crew. Nils and I are working on this video too so we were like, ‘let’s go on this trip’ but Nils was a little bit sick so he felt shitty and spent most of the time sleeping in the back of the van.
It’s fine he always travels with this huge bag full of medicine ha ha. But seriously that was such a good trip… It’s when we really started collecting photos for this article. It worked quite well I think, well, until I kinda broke my foot.
Sounds like a dope trip indeed with the filmer being sick and you breaking your foot… When and how did that happen?
I don’t remember exactly but it was one of the last days somewhere up north. I really wanted to skate this channel gap and it took me two days. The ground was super shitty and it was way too big for me so I put on soft wheels but then the problem was that they made me fucking fly! And imagine, I was the only skater with Nils and Fidi further back… I was going as fast as I could, ollied, it felt like I was in the air for half minute and thought I’m gonna fucking die. I landed and my board fell in the water, obviously. I had four tries and landed in the water three times. The soft wheels were the worst idea because they’d make me go way too fast and way too high and on one attempt I landed on both of my feet and broke a few bones and had a crazy heel bruise.
How did you feel at that point? I bet you still wanted to go for it ha ha, like ‘all in!’
Of course! Ha ha. But we had to wait a whole day, as I couldn’t walk…
So I changed the wheels back to the hard ones. I was so scared, but fuck it. Then there was this cruise boat coming and it stopped to watch me, they were on the microphone saying shit and suddenly everybody on there had their smartphones out to film me. I was like what the fuck is going on, the whole boat was literally waiting for me to do it. I had to try, there was no way around it, so I went for it and I’m in the air, looking at the landing and told myself ‘it’s gonna be so fucking tight’, I wasn’t sure if I was gonna make it, but somehow I did!
What about your audience? Were they stoked?
Yeah the horns of the boat were honking and everything, it was such a weird moment because no one was around but the boat, me, Fidi and Nils.
That’s a good story to end a trip though. So, you drove back to Berlin, got to see some nice places on the way and then what?
I couldn’t skate for a bit and then came Christmas/New Year’s; the next trip was Lisbon.
Lisbon, I remember. Looks like the crew got even smaller and you stayed there for quite a while right?
It was just Fidi and me this time. Nils was supposed to come too but he decided not to ‘cause of the coronavirus situation. No, we only stayed for a week but had really long days because we woke up every single day at 7:30am to go to that one spot, on the rooftop of a restaurant and only had one hour every morning before the cleaning lady arrived at 8:30am. It took us a couple days to figure out the schedule etc. It was pretty much a six days process ha ha. The roof isn’t even really skate- able, like it’s super thin plastic and it goes down on the other side, there is a crack in front of it, it’s not even a spot but if you look at it from the street it looks sick ha ha.
Lisbon was a mission though: we were looking for spots, trying to find weird things to skate but it was so hard to get stuff and we were so unlucky… We got kicked out of every single spot.
You got back to Berlin right before they closed the border and then the ‘lockdown’ started right? (We don’t have a real lockdown in Germany it’s called a ‘contact ban’ and it’s more relaxed than what’s in place in a lot of other countries.)
Yes, I came back two weeks ago, we hesitated but still went and it was really good. We also had to finish this interview, which was a bit hard ‘cause it was only Fidi and me.
How was it being on this trip without a filmer?
I liked it, it was a bit old school you know and it felt like less pressure almost. You don’t have to care about the timing of the filmer. I mean of course it would be sick to have the footage but it is what it is.
And also just being the two of you. It’s a different dynamic, not having a squad to hype you up… Although you’re not really a big crew guy are you?
Yeah I’m used to it, I’m always with a tiny crew.
I’m never ‘rolling deep’ ha ha. I can’t do it; it’s just too much for me. When I’m with a big squad I care too much about all the other people and forget about myself and then I don’t do anything. And it’s more in my nature to want to do something.
Do you manage to go skate these days despite the ‘contact ban’ and all these new rules?
Yes, I’m skating a lot. Roland (Hoogwater) and I are going almost every day. It’s cool because all the skateparks are closed so we have to go street skating and that’s what I like the most.
Ha ha, you’re taking advantage of the situation… Still you have to watch out for the cops?
Obviously. Valle and Malte nearly got a ticket the other day but we’ve been careful. We mostly go outside of the city and try to be only two to three people max. I mean two people is legal; we’re not breaking the law! Ha ha…
When we talked the other day you told me that these restrictions don’t affect you too much besides you missing going to restaurants and bars from time to time as you’re at home a lot in general anyway.
You’re from a small town, can you tell me a bit more about the place you grew up?
I’m from Bad Zwischenahn. It’s not a city but a health resort. That’s why it’s ‘Bad’; it’s basically a home for old and rich people. A small shitty town; I hate the place.
As in you didn’t like it when you were younger or…? Does your family still live there?
No I still don’t like it; I don’t like to be there. My family is still there and I’m the only one from the whole family to have left this place… Ever! I’m like the black sheep, ha ha, they don’t understand. It was hard, especially for my grandparents. When I told them I was moving to Berlin, they told me I would become ‘a drug addict and die very soon!’ ha ha. Thankfully they got to see me being very happy in Berlin before they passed away. But yes, the thing that I noticed is that I didn’t like it even when I was really young because I always tried to ‘escape’ with my bike. I was always trying to go as far as I could out of this village, every time going a little further.
You were already pushing the limits, ha ha.
Yeah and I was pretty young: six or seven years old. And to this day, every single time I go there they ask me when I’m moving back!
Did you move straight to Berlin from there?
No, I was in Hannover for a little bit and travelled around. I really liked Berlin but I thought that if I moved there I’d lose this feeling of Berlin being a place I really enjoy, you know? So I tried to avoid it for a while but at the end there was no other choice. I’ve been here for ten years now.
Ten years already… We moved here almost at the same time. I’ve been asking myself if I still like it here, and the answer is yes. It’s a big city with its crazy sides but it feels like the countryside a lot too. You can have such a relaxed life here if you want too (and avoid staying at the bar until 7am drinking shots of chartreuse… Wait! What?). It suits your very ‘chill’ personality don’t you think?
Ha ha, yeah exactly. It’s not so metropolitan in a way. It’s so funny, I’m that person but I live in a big city.
Well, I think it’s compatible.
Yes, and I think knowing that I can do anything at any point keeps me calm. I especially like it now that I moved to this other hood, Schöneberg… I’m definitely the only skater there, which is cool because I like the distance.
You can leave your place without bumping into friends after two minutes, is that what you mean?
Yep exactly. I still need to get used to being around a lot of people ha ha. So living in a place like Berlin is a little bit of self-therapy to me; if I was still living in the village I’d be a man in the woods probably by now, ha!
It turned out pretty good, you’re far from being a hermit and you’re running a skate mag. When and how did you start working for Place Mag?
I started as an intern and when I got my job interview with the former owner (Benjamin Markstein) I told him all the things I didn’t like about Place and he really liked that and gave me the job. That was in 2014!?
And a few years later here you are running the mag with your buddy Roland aka LaPatte. (I realised that when Daniel and I met for this interview, we didn’t talk about Roland! Ha ha, how the fuck?!) You guys are really good friends, you seem to spend a lot of time together and not only at the ‘office’. How is it to work with someone who is basically your best mate?
Ha ha, yeah we didn’t. He just told me that I should say that he is a real jerk. Such a Dutch thing to say. He’s really proud to be Dutch, as is every Dutch person. If you want to bother him just ask him if he is from Germany. I brought him into Place and decided to start this agency with him. He’s a real good talker and super charming. Also, he likes the attention. If you want him to like you just tell him that his outfit is on point, he will be the sweetest person to you. Yes, we are best mates and actually working with him is quite cool.
You guys came up with some really cool ideas the past few years; did you feel that it was complicated to make them happen?
Thank you. I don’t really know what’s complicated anymore. I just know that I was sick of putting out regular issues. ‘Team X in City X and it was the best tour ever.’ – been there, done that. Sometimes it’s really easy to be a little different because it feels like that’s how we actually are and that’s what we like. Don’t want to take anything away from other magazines here. I think we also need the norm, otherwise our work wouldn’t be the same and again very similar to any other magazine’s work. I like the diversity we have at the moment in all of the fields. I know for a fact that our road isn’t the most economic road to take because we basically lose money making magazines but we try to make it up with all the agency work and that’s cool.
In my opinion, you’re a really good photographer and I know that you don’t always feel comfortable talking about yourself; but since you’re really discreet about it, are you shooting a lot of photos? Are you working on personal projects at the moment?
Yeah. I’ve always had a video or a photo camera with me from a young age. I like to capture things but I also like to keep a lot of that to myself. I have released a few things here and there and made some prints but for now everything I do is mostly kept to myself. I’m always working on little ideas and I have quite a few things lying around, but I feel like I have all the time in the world and for now I want to have it as something personal. Also, I’m around so many good photographers and artists that I sometimes feel uncomfortable about my work. It’s like the same thing about my skating. When I’m with a big group I tend to do nothing. We will see; time will tell.
For me, it’s easier to express myself, feelings, opinions with images. What about you?
I feel like you are really good in both but yeah it is a good tool to tell people what’s going on without really telling them. I think for me it is also a tool to confuse people and leave them with a question mark. What’s better than that?
(Bonus question) Do you remember one of the rare times you partied harder than me and came back to the hotel after me?
Damn, (starts laughing) Helsinki!
Helsinki of course! Oh my god I remember coming back at 8am or something, so dead and I opened the hotel room and I saw Benny with what I thought at first was two girls. I remember thinking, ‘fuck, how are we gonna get out of this?!’ Or should I say how is he gonna get out of this… You know he had a girlfriend. Then I realised that on the floor it was not a girl sleeping but Brian (Delatorre), but you know with his long hair I got confused ha ha, and then in my bed it was you and not a random girl! I felt so relieved; everything was under control and I could finally relax.
Ha ha yes, your face and reaction was priceless. I remember laughing so much, you panicked for a short minute right there and then you passed out on the sofa. You didn’t show up and missed your ‘run’ later on. I can still hear them saying your name in the speaker, and us screaming ‘he’s not coming; he’s fucking sleeping’. I think it was summer 2015 or so, those were some good times.
Now I just chill at home baking cakes. I made banana bread by the way; you want some?
Fuck yeah; I love banana bread.