Booka Shade are Arno Kammermeier and Walter Merziger. Hailing from Berlin and the celebrated Get Physical label, the production duo have recently taken to touring their live act to adoring fans across the globe. In their latest release 'Memento', the duo play around with pop, dance and experimentation, with exquisite visuals for its staging.
As far as I can see you guys are sonar virgins what are you expecting from this year's festival?
ARNO: First of all we feel very honoured to be invited to play a live gig at Sónar. It's our first time here since we started doing live shows again just a couple of months ago. We had a synth band in the early 90's and did some touring at that time as well, but that was a completely different thing. It's really crazy to see how much positive feedback we have received since our album 'Memento' was released. Up to now, most people probably knew Booka Shade as the producers of M.A.N.D.Y. or DJ T., studio guys that worked in the background. So now we take great pleasure in going out there and presenting our music to a live audience. I'm looking forward to having the possibility to meet many interesting DJs and live acts.
Sonar is a truly international event – how is the scene different in other cities to Berlin?
WALTER: We didn't have very much experience with the music scenes in other European cities up to now, because this is actually our first European tour. But I feel that wherever you will go you will find some people who carry the same love for music in their hearts. It may sound a bit pathetic but I always loved and believed in this “universal music language“. Talking about Berlin, it's a good place if you think about partying on a professional 24 hour basis! The crowd is critical, but if they feel that something is good they go wild. I'm very happy to live in Berlin at this moment in time. It's a truly fantastic place for electronic music.
What is your favourite festival memory?
ARNO: You should ask us this question next year, because the first festival season just started for us! We play some festivals in England (Lovebox, London), Scotland (T in the Park, Glasgow), Germany (Fusion and Summer Spirit) and probably Poland; more to follow. But I guess the crazy stories are the same, doesn't matter if festival or club. There are so many, but they better remain private...
How do you change your style when playing to festivals rather than nightclubs?
WALTER: The biggest change we did was probably from the album versions to the live versions in general. On the album some tracks we now play live were a lot moodier and deeper. That's why in the beginning many people, especially festival bookers, couldn’t really imagine us as a rocking live act. We put a lot more energy in the tracks and produced some tracks especially for the live show as well. On big outdoor festivals live acts often don't play longer than 45 to 50 minutes, so you don't have a lot of time to drag the audience into a kind of musical flow that we feature on the album. But we are quite satisfied with the set we play at the moment. there are a lot of tracks you can dance to, like 'Something Physical’ and all the tracks from our new EP 'Mandarine Girl', and tracks like ’Frantic’ show the soundtrack aspect to the show.
The Sonar programme includes features on art, multimedia and technology. How do you think advances in these areas affect the music industry and the music you play?
ARNO: We are very much interested in those topics. The visual aspect is quite important to us, and we were always fascinated by big multimedia shows from acts like U2 or Kraftwerk. Our live show normally features video projections that are especially produced together with a swedish video artist for every song. The pictures run in sync with the music and highlighten special parts of the tracks. Ten years ago it would have been impossible to travel throughout Europe with the kind of multimedia show like we have it at the moment. It's very compact and we can take it on any plane, which is a big advantage and keeps things interesting for us. We never wanted to be a laptop act but wanted to present a slightly bigger set on stage. It´s a shame that we can't use the screens for the gig we play at Sónar because of the venue – we play in the afternoon and the projections wouldn't be seen. On the other hand the venue looks beautiful on the pics I've seen; like an old church. So this time we just let the music speak for itself.
Sonar has a reputation for pushing new frontiers – What are you looking forward to catching at this year's festival?
ARNO: Walter spends most of his life in the studio so I guess he will relax after the gig and ´go with the flow´ and see what happens, but since I am very much involved in the business side of our label Get Physical. I'm looking forward to meeting many people we may work with every day on an international basis that I have never met. I'll try and listen to the sets some of my all time fav´s like Laurent Garnier.
How will you be spending your time in Barcelona when not playing?
WALTER: I haven't been to Barcelona for quite a long time, so I'll certainly take some time off in order to see the city again. I'm sure the whole Get Physical family will hop in a car and do a little sightseeing trip and hang out by the beach to recover from the nights we spend dancing. Oh what a stressy life we lead.
Finally, will you be launching any new music at Sonar this year? Can you give RA a heads-up on anything to keep an ear out for, or anything else on the horizon for you and Get Physical in 2005?
ARNO: We have fantastic records coming up on Get Physical. The DJ T. album will just be released when we arrive in barcelona. 12"s by Sunsetpeople, Willzoid and Silver City are coming and I´m especially looking forward to the Chelonis R. Jones album which will be out in September. His previous 12"s on Get Physical, 'one & one' and 'I don´t know?' did very well, and the new single 'le bateau ivre' will come with a remix by Tiga, who supported Chelonis from day one. The album is a 12 track "New York drama queen epic" at it's best! He currently works on his live show that he will take on tour from September on. We just started with some ideas for a new Booka Shade album which we'd like to have finished by the end of the year so it could see a release in April / May next year.
Booka Shade play Sonar by Day on Thursday 16 June.
This interview is part of RA’s exclusive 2005 Sonar Prologue interview series - check out the others below;
2005 Sonar Prologue with Jeff Mills
2005 Sonar Prologue with Richie Hawtin
2005 Sonar Prologue with Miss Kittin
2005 Sonar Prologue with Headman
2005 Sonar Prologue with DJ Yoda
2005 Sonar Prologue with Ellen Allien
2005 Sonar Prologue with Basteroid
2005 Sonar Prologue with DJ T.
2005 Sonar Prologue with Ada
2005 Sonar Prologue with Damain Lazarus
2005 Sonar Prologue with Mu
2005 Sonar Prologue with James Murphy