Peer to Peer with DJ Peter Panic
VP: How did you get your start in the business?
PP: I started in 1989, as a party promoter and DJ. My bredren Terry Midas and I used to rent the legendary Q-Club in Jamaica, Queens from DJ Roy and BMW Mike. Even though the Q-Club was known primarily as a Reggae spot, my “College Thursdays” theme night brought in a diverse crowd, a mix of Americans, Latinos, Asians, and Caribbean people. We built the night from scratch, personally distributing 10,000 flyers a week, to guarantee a ram-jam on the dance floor each week!
Always on the cutting edge, I booked artists to perform from a wide range of musical styles, including Hip Hop, R&B, and House Music. We played a mash-up of everything and attracted a lot of Queens natives that went on to be major dancers, choreographers, models, and celebrities on the scene. One night while DJing, the legendary DJ Clark Kent walked into the booth and complemented me on my selector skills, and mixing style. He said “Yo….! You’re doing your thang out here in Queens, but you really need to come over to Manhattan,” and from that night we became close friends. He would bring me in to play records within his DJ sets or cover for him at clubs, including Mars, The Powerhouse, and The Red Zone. He also brought me on out-of-town dates when he was the Tour DJ for Notorious BIG and Jay-Z. He really opened my eyes to the deeper aspects of the music business, and I am forever grateful for these earned experiences and lifelong jewels.
VP: What was your first notable project?
PP: Around 1991 I partnered with Clark to form Supermen Productions, Inc., from our own crew of hip hop producers and DJ’s. I remember one night at Clark’s apartment, when he and Damon Dash had a meeting about getting Jay-Z a record deal. Soon after, Clark asked me to help Damon manage the manufacturing on a new single they would release independently. I jumped at the chance, having released a few independent records during a brief label partnership with Mel Holder and Lloyd Evans, (Barrington Levy’s manager at the time) I knew what needed to be done.
To prevent any bootlegging, I separated all the technical aspects of manufacturing the records; printing the labels with All Time Printers in Queens, who did my nightclub flyers. I took the finished DAT tapes and personally sat in the mastering session with Duncan Stanbury. I made the mother stampers at Master Craft, and they shipped the stampers directly to Miss Joyce at Hit Bound. Then I personally delivered the printed labels just in time for her to press the records and call me to pick them up when they were ready. That record was Jay-Z’s 1994 single “In My Lifetime.”
VP: What was your first breakthrough?
PP: In 1996, I got to produce a track for Jay-Z. At the time, Clark was one of his close advisors, guiding he and Damon thru the ins and outs of the music industry. I used to make beats at Clark’s apartment, he let me use his equipment when he was resting or had other things to do. We used to all go out to MAD Wednesdays, Soul Kitchen and The Tunnel nightclubs, and represent as the Super Men Crew. One night, I decided to stay behind and made the beat for what would become the song “Regrets”, and the song made it on to the Reasonable Doubt album. I produced another song for Jay-Z, before that called “Understand Me,” which was never released, somebody posted a rough version of the demo on YouTube. That song is an early Jay-Z scorcher! My friends love it because he shouts me out in the intro.
VP: What are you working on now/ next?
PP: Right now, I’m taking some personal time to regenerate my inner creativity. I recently experienced the back-to-back loss of my beloved Father, Thomas Pottinger, and my dearest Aunt Joan Chung (nee: Pottinger). Additionally, I’m in the process of relocating my family, sound system, vinyl record collection and recording studio.
I’m sitting on a few unreleased projects and look forward to putting out more music and DJing at nightclubs again soon. Next, is to put the cornerstones in place, making moves in silence, and bubbling up quietly. Keep your cool, then you blow!
VP: What are you listening to (current favorites)?
PP: I listen to all forms of music, yet I always return to the classics. I can’t live without a regular dose of Reggae, Dancehall, Disco, Soul, Funk, Electro, Hip Hop, R&B, Afrobeat, Salsa, Merengue, Soca, New Wave and Rock Music. Anything from the classic catalogs of Studio One, Treasure Isle, Motown, Stax, CTI, SalSoul, King Jammy’s, Black Scorpio, Bunny “Striker” Lee, Niney the Observer, Fela Kuti, African High Life, etc.
Watch Peter Panic perform live at Central Park’s SummerStage on Saturday August 13th at 6pm!