Walter and Arno don their DJing caps for the 150th edition of the RA podcast.
You may only be aware of Walter Merziger and Arno Kammermeier's work as Booka Shade, but their time in the music industry stretches all the way back to the early '90s, when the pair started working together in a band named Planet Claire. The group was largely centered around synth pop, but after releasing two albums (both of which featured some of deep house diva Lisa Shaw's first vocal tracks) they disbanded in 1995. By that time, Merziger and Kammermeier had become increasingly interested in electronic music and began to make club tracks under various different pseudonyms, experimenting with trance, techno and house as they left their synth pop sound behind. After flirtations with both the underground and the mainstream (as Perky Park they even remixed a version of Aqua's "Barbie Girl"), the duo got together with Patrick Bodmer and Philipp Jung of M.A.N.D.Y. and Thomas Koch (AKA DJ T.) to create their Get Physical label, which has gone on to rack up over 100 releases and become a powerhouse in the German electronic music scene.
Merziger and Kammermeier's production prowess proved to be one of the driving forces behind their initial popularity, with their work for both M.A.N.D.Y. and DJ T. garnering acclaim on top of their own productions as Booka Shade. 2005 was arguably their breakout year, with "Body Language" and "Mandarine Girl" becoming inescapable anthems worldwide and taking their sleek electro-house sound to a much wider audience. Nowadays they're headlining large club gigs and festivals with their energetic audio/visual live show, and while you generally won't find them playing over people's records when you go to see them, they've proved their DJing talents with their eclectic addition to the DJ-Kicks series. Their RA podcast—the 150th in our weekly series—sees them in a relatively more straightforward mood, mixing up minimal, electro, tech and boompty house flavours with a couple of surprises along the way.
What have you been working on recently?
We just came home from a US tour, where we played big festivals such as SXSW and ULTRA as well as some club shows. And before that we finished two remixes: one for Moderat, the project of Modeselektor and Apparat, the other one for Bronnt Industries Kapital, a new act on Get Physical. Back in Berlin, we're continuing production on our new album. It's coming along great: I think we'll have a single out after the summer with the album following at the beginning of 2010.
How and where was the mix recorded?
We started the mix while traveling on the tour bus in the States and finished it in Berlin.
Can you tell us a little about the mix?
Like all of our "recorded mixes," it doesn't represent a club set but is for home listening. The mix starts off with a brand new track by DJ T., taken from his soon to be released second album, The Inner Jukebox. We're very happy with what we've heard from the album so far. It's going to be a really cool club album. He produced it together with Thomas Schumacher.
You'll hear a yet unreleased remix of "Donut," by a young producer named Ben Hoo and our remix for Moderat. We wanted to include New Order's dub mix of "Confusion" for a long time. And the very last song comes from David Gray. We have loved this song since it first came out: "Please forgive me if I act a little strange, for I know not what I do." Love the words.
What gigs do you tend to prefer—the big festivals or the smaller club gigs?
We love them both, really. We would miss something if we could only do either one. The big stages are great, because you have a perfect production and sound, mostly good air (when it's open air) and a lot of space to perform. In the intimate places you have the whole audience all around you…you can practically reach out and touch the people which is a good experience as well.
What are you up to next?
We're prepare a new live show and will play selected festival shows during the summer. (Headlining the Friday at Glade Festival in England, for example) and do some DJ sets too. It's a lot of fun to play around with other people's music for a change!