Desperately seeking romance

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain! Richard Panic, the tinkering mad scientist, creates his romantic fusion of new wave and techno not to garner adulation for his efforts, but to let his sounds seep their way into the oft-ignored recesses of your psyche.

"The music is a way to express feelings that are often obscured and not talked about, like panic and fear, and put them into pop music. The idea is that the audience can sing along with me about these things."

Panic – who when offstage is a guy called Gerald Roesser – was created from the collision of exterior sonic aesthetics and interior panic.

"Basically I kind of suffer from persistent anxiety and Richard Panic is a way for me to vent it. I invented the character and the music as a way to express that aspect of my life."

Panic-Roesser has just released his debut, three-song 12-inch, Leopard Pillow, on Detroit’s Spectator Records. You’ll find in the grooves a moody, lush, beat-driven, emotional DMZ where Gary Numan’s Bowie idolatry mingles with New Romantic Brit-pop (think Pulp, Suede et al.) and Jeff Mills’ future-forward mixmastery.

Roesser acknowledges the osmosis by which these artists found their way into his music, but he’s by no means limiting the equation to its current variables.

"It’s (created from listening to) anybody who’s moving forward in music. Gary Numan’s a retro thing now, but I’m into bands that merge musics to go forward – bands like the Beta Band and musicians that mix electronics and acoustics."

So why perform this music obscured by a screen? One could certainly assume that a barrier between audience and performer serves to distance the two parties trying to communicate with each other. But, to Roesser’s way of thinking, it’s the exact opposite.

"The idea behind the screen was that I wanted Richard Panic to be everybody. I wanted people to relate to the music and think, ‘I’m playing a show, I’m Richard Panic.’ That could be anybody."

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