Actualites Electroniques - Your daily dose of electronic music  
Actualites Electroniques

You will find in this category each week, an interview or a biograhpy of a Dj or artist which is breaking the news. All styles are on the “menu” of this category: minimal, house, electro, techno or even trance in some cases.

The topic will be supplemented by other Djs following the latest electronic music news.

Booka Shade - Interview

Booka Shade is certainly, one of the best and most productive German duo of the electro music world like M.A.N.D.Y, we interviewed some years ago. Today, we are back with a new and exclusive interview of Booka Shade just before the release of their fifth studio album “Eve”. The guys are notably at the origins of tracks under Get Physical, Systematic and Studio K7!. This duo composed Walter Merziger and Arno Kammermeier for almost twenty years and mainly one of the pillars of the German electronic music scene are also the founder of Get Physical. This interview follows notably the one of other Berliner producers we interviewed like Fritz Kalkbrenner, Thomas Schumacher, Wankelmut or M.A.N.D.Y.. First of all we would like to thank the duo who answers our questions. Have a good reading!


“Hi Booka Shade,

Honestly, it's a real pleasure and honor to interview you, because I discovered your music long time ago, notably “Vertigo” in 2004 and it has been always a pleasure to listen to your tracks or sets since then notably your remix of Woodkid “I love you” released at the beginning of the year and that went to #1 in the German dance charts (DCC). So I’m really impatient about your upcoming album, the main reason for this interview!

Indeed, in a few days will be released your new studio album “Eve”, with fantastic tracks like “Many Rivers”, “Love Inc” or “Kalimera”. Could you please clarify us how this project was born?
> ARNO: thank you very much. EVE was a long and painful process. We started to write the first new songs in the middle of 2010. After one and a half year we weren´t happy with the music we had produced. Something was missing. We finally came to the conclusion that we have to change the way we produced albums in the past or we split up. It was the darkest time in Booka Shade`s career and we almost called it a day.

For almost the first time you invited some friends to work on your tracks like Fritz Helder (Azari & III) who lends his vocals to “Love Drug,” as well as Fritz Kalkbrenner for “Crossing borders”. Can you please explain us this choice of collaborations and why these artists?
> WALTER: In the beginning the concept of Booka Shade was to focus on what Arno and I can do with our four hands and two voices. No guest musicians or external producers. Over the years we opened up this concept (starting with Yello on the “More!” album in 2010) and asked people who we remixed (for example Fritz Kalkbrenner) if they would like to write a song on one of our playbacks.
The contact with Fritz Helder came via our management and we met him a few times on tour when we played the same festivals or clubs. We met in Berlin one day, went in a studio and wrote the song “Love drug” together. The demo version of the song crossing borders with the voice of Fritz Kalkbrenner had a trombone sample on it and we wanted to replace it with a real one, so we ask our friend Andy Cato from groove armada if he wants to play on our record and he did a perfect job.

Moreover why “Eve” as album’s name? I’ve read somewhere that you have named it because of your new studio in Manchester.
> WALTER: After the frustrating album production times in 2011/12 we decided to go a new way and record our music in a new surrounding. I read an article in a music magazine about a recording space outside of Manchester.
The equipment list sounded very promising and we booked the studio for a few days. It changed everything. The place was magic, full of the weirdest instruments, compressors, reverb plates, synths and mixing desks. We had an incredible time there and found together again, like a band should.
After this experience everything came together but it took us another 15 months to finish the album in Berlin. EVE saved us.

After you give us these info about your music news we would like to go back to your musical roots. Could you briefly tell us how did you become DJ and producer?
> ARNO: First of all, we still don’t see us as DJs. We do Dj sets every now and then (since 2010) but our main job is to be musicians. We play instruments on stage and in the studio, we compose and produce music and we love it.
We have a long career behind us (more than 25 years) so I will tell you the short version. We met in a school band in 1984 (Arno on the drums and voice, Walter keyboards, guitar and voice), signed our first record deal in 1991 with EMI, had the first chart success with our synthpop band Planet Claire in 1992, infected by the techno virus we started to produce electronic dance music for clubs in 1993. Then we produced the number one Eurodance chart act “Culture Beat 1995” and worked as chart producers for many international artists for a few years, quit the job and founded together with M.A.N.D.Y. and DJ T the label Get Physical. And I’m proud to say: “rest is history”.J

At the beginning, did your family understand what you did for a living? And now are they proud of what you achieved?
> WALTER: You can imagine that it was not easy to explain to our parents what we want to do for a living. My father is an advocate and Arno’s dad was a manager of a big brewery. But we were lucky that we could get a well paid record deal with EMI straight after school. I remember when I played our first album to my father (a huge classical music fan) that he was very impressed and I think he is proud that we found our own way and turned our passion in a job that can make our living.

More and more people are asking us about the material DJs and producers used. What is the software or instruments you use to produce and create a track? Could you please be more specific on a technical side let’s say?
> ARNO: There are so many different things that we use that it is impossible to mention all. Over the years we collected a lot of instruments, sample sounds, sound libraries or pluggins but I can write about the things we use the most.
The core in the studio is the Apple logic sequence software and our huge EXS sampler library then of course we use a lot of pluggins. We’re not huge fans of instruments with a lot of possibilities, FX and thousands of parameters. We like it simple.
The Aturia series is very good with the Minimoog, Jupiter 8 etc, or a little wasp synth emulation called da hornet (we produced our song “Darko” with this little beast), you can also hear the Xils3 and the synthix on our album. But it’s not very important what you use; it is important how you use it. A deep clavinet sound can be used as a weird sounding percussion element or a long reverb on a cymbal with a flanger can be the basis for a great synth atmosphere.
We reamped (sending the signals through guitar amps) a lot of our instruments in Manchester and could give our sounds a special texture. You can hear this in the song “Love inc.”, we gave the percussion sounds a special treatment.

I think I’ve read somewhere that Booka Shade is not your first experience in sound-making. Indeed it appears you composed for pop bands, ads, movies… Is this right? If so, could you tell us a bit more about this “unknown” background for most of our readers?
> WALTER: We produced a lot of music for TV/film commercials for all kind of brands…. Levis, BMW, Mercedes, Wella… We’ve learned a lot about atmospheres and how to paint pictures with music. At the same time we had a lot of success with in the popmusic field… Our most known mix was for sure the radio version of Aqua’s “Barbie girl”… Yes, we don’t hide it.-)
After this success we were music consultants for TV shows like Popidol, Popstars etc. but only for two years… In 2001 after millions of records sold we had enough, quit the job and focused on what we really love. As you can see, million sales alone won’t make you happy.


Concerning your career as producers, have you a pre-determinate role in the production of the tracks? How do you composed together? What is respectively your role inside Booka Shade? One at the drums and other at the keyboard?
> WALTER: In the past we sat in our studio together and worked on music. Nowadays the procedure is a bit different cos we’re on tour so much and we don’t live in the same city anymore.
I start to write and produce a first demo in my studio which I send to Arno and which is the basis for future discussions, then we meet in a studio, record instruments, talk about the arrangement, the sounds and the feel of the tracks until we feel the song is finished.

You created with DJ T and M.A.N.D.Y. Get Physical Recordings, many years ago. You’ve just celebrated the 10th year of the label this year. If you look back to the past, how would you describe the evolution of the Recordings, and what is your vision for the future in a few words?
> ARNO: The first few years with Get Physical were an amazing time without any rules and an “us against the world” mentality. I’ve learned a lot at that time about club music in general. It was a very inspiring time for us.
After a while the label was one of the biggest house music imprints on the planet and the problems started… It was too big for Walter and me, too many employees, too many decisions to make, too many opinions. So we left the label in the beginning of 2010 after 8 exciting years without any stress or bad words. We´re close friends especially with the M.A.N.D.Y. guys.

Knowing that you both come from Germany and more especially from Berlin, could you please tell us a bit more about the German electronic scene, mainly knows for its underground and eclectic tracks played in the nightclubs?
> WALTER: There are a lot of new places where you can have a great party in Berlin aside of the established clubs like Watergate, Weekend or Berghain.
Places like Kingsize, Bravo or Trust are more or less bars with a DJ in the corner but with a vibrant atmosphere and crazy people dancing all over the place. Nowadays the pure clubs are still on fire but people tend more and more to go to places where they can have dinner, have a drink at the bar afterwards and then late at night go in the club all in the same building, places like The grand, the Sohohouse , Spindler & Klatt or Kater Holzig.
The main electronic scene and the most famous clubs of Germany are in Berlin of course but there are other cities like Frankfurt with great producers like Butch or Munich and Cologne with the Kompakt guys. It is more realistic to meet other DJs/producers in an airport than in a club in Berlin cos we’re all constantly on the road! But of course we have a contact from time to time with our friends Pan Pot, Martin Eyerer, Moderat, Chi Thanh, M.A.N.D.Y. and many more…

Why do you think in Berlin there are some much talents and some kind of a crazy emulation between all of you? Is there special water!?
> For sure you can get special water in Berlin if you want too but I think this is not the reason why Berlin is so in da zone at the moment. It´s more the low rent for a flat, the change and the rebuilding phase of Berlin with a lot of empty house ideal for illegal parties, the international population, the liberal government and the history of the divided city with a lot of fascinating rock and roll stories (David Bowie, U2, Dépêche Mode). Poor but sexy is the slogan of Berlin and it fits quite well!

Any other things to say to our readers? (Open question)
> Love is life, if you miss love you miss life.


Booka Shade, before we conclude this interview we have a few more questions. Sometimes one word is enough!

Where are you right now for answering our interview? Studio, airport?
> WALTER: Mallorca, vacation with my family before the tour starts in Australia.

The song you advices us to listen in your discography?
> Booka Shade - Love Inc. (album version)

An artist you would like to work with one day?
> Arcade Fire.

3 words to define your music?
> Emotional, stylish, melodic.

One privilege, being DJs, gives you access to?
> The hearts of our audience.

One word about France?
> Stylish

Some words about our website, the one where the interview will be published?
> WALTER: Full worldwide electronic music scene information service with a good-looking layout and an all you need package. Very nice. Will have a look more often.

The best club in Germany (name of the nightclub and city)?
> ARNO: Watergate Berlin

Your favorite track these days?
> Arcade Fire - Reflector

Booka Shade, thank you so much for the time you devoted to Actualités Electroniques and particularly for this full and exclusive interview. We will wait for sure for your next productions and especially your upcoming album. A bientôt!”

Dj Aroy


Written by Dj Aroy
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