Ștefan Panea is a man that vibrates around music. He started his activity as a musician and he gradually evolved in being one of the most acclaimed front of house engineers in Romania. His is the sound engineer for the Romanian band Vita de Vie and for the Control Club. Fane also has released music both as a solo artist and alongside the band Environments where he plays with Marius Costache and Mihai ”Para” Ghiță. Weather he is in front of house or on-stage Stefan is always pushing the limits, exploring and manipulating the sound for creating something memorable.
Well, I have always been a black metal fan in a way or another and always have associated black metal atmosphere with ambient or drone music. Burzum sounded ambient to me. It was harsh and raw but also eerie and relaxing at the same time. The more I got into the textural side of music, the more I felt closer to what I have always wanted to do. Guitar was just closer to me in order to deliver what was in my head. It served only as a tool.
I think the album that drastically changed my perspective on music making was Tim Hecker’s An Imaginary Country. Marius Costache got me into this one.
I just like to do ambient music, man, it keeps me sane. I always think about future artistic endeavors or else I go mad. The music turned out different because I did it alone, in my room and with no one around to have conversations about it. My dog Aru approved it, so… there you have it.
I don’t have a specific gear setup, I’m in a constant change with sounds, DAWs, guitars, pedals, synths, mixers, Ipads, field recordings and so on. Every song on Neuter had a different setup. I improvise a lot and record it, then I cut, I paste, I edit, etc… until I’m satisfied with it. My favorite song, Junaru, is made entirely on layers of recorded accordion run through guitar pedals, amps, etc… The song Neuter is mostly a drum loop altered to a point of no return… Undifferentiated is a mystery to this day, I don’t remember how I started it or how I finished it.
Well, Flesh Rodeo is one of my favorite Romanian bands. There is no place for joking or fooling around in their music and this is something I admire the most to their sound. It was a unique experience reworking that part of their song. I tried to bring out a certain feeling of loss and despair, I don’t know why, but that song overwhelmed me in such a way…
All the graphics from my solo albums are done by Alexandru Daș from Valerinne. Regarding Environments, we worked with Costin Chioreanu for our first release, Alexandru Daă for Fraktal and Marius did the graphic design for the Environments album and Ascuns. Marius also did all our videos, except for II which was done by Valeriu Cătălineanu.
I stuck with it and it turned out good. I still enjoy it, for sure. I don’t like to think about it as a competition because I don’t like to compare myself to others. Different minds for different reasons. I hope I’ll continue doing it for at least ten years ahead, even though it comes along with a great dose of alienation… sometimes you have to find new ways to cope with it, but, yeah… it’s good.
I’m still trying to wrap my head around what the music industry is these days. And I’m only talking about underground here. To be honest, I listen to almost everything now on Apple Music or Google Play, and I know that the artists receive almost nothing from royalties. But it has got to this point somehow and I’m not in the position to question this abrupt industry “progress”. I am still buying merchandise from artists I like, but mainly I listen to music and discover new acts online. Just two months ago I uploaded most of Environments releases and my own stuff on those platforms, so…
Me and Marius are friends for more than 12 years and one of the reasons we go back so long is because we never stepped on each other’s toes. Since we started Environments in 2011, the three of us have a huge esteem for each other and we know for sure that we have this band mainly to deliver the music we hear and want to hear. There is no leader, dictator or control freak behind this band, just a great sense of mutual respect. So, everything we do together stays in the boundaries of this “healthy” relationship.