interview-with-booka-shade

Interview with Booka Shade

words by Natalia Morawski

Just a few weeks ago, German electro-house veterans Booka Shade celebrated the 10 year anniversary of their stellar album ‘Movements’, with the release of a two-part remastered & remixed version calling it ‘Movements 10’.

The gents are also heading down-under this summer for the Falls Festival circuit, and our resident Stag-er Natalia Morawski jumped at the chance to have a quick chat with one-half of the project, Arno Kammermeier.

Congratulations on the reissue of the ‘Movements 10’ LP. I imagine it feels strange and nice to be revisiting and promoting old material?
It is in a way, but also it’s fun. We knew for a while that we would do something for the tenth anniversary because people kept approaching us and still enjoy the music. Some of the music is still played in clubs today. For us it’s also a bit like closing a chapter because for 10 years, and also for a couple of albums, we explored how far we could drive the instrumentals — club or electronic music. The ‘Memento’ album that started ‘Movements’ for us, this was the big breakthrough for us internationally you could say. We close this chapter and work on new material. We now are in a happy position to celebrate the past and cherish the future.

It was fun, because when we thought about the rerelease we knew we wouldn’t touch the music ourselves but do remixes. The music is still relevant for us, it’s still what it should be for us, I mean we would do everything completely different today but we’d rather have it the way it is and do remixes. We approached a whole list of people we always wanted to work with or we respect a lot. You end up with a fantastic list like Deetron, I really respect this guy a lot, or David Ferrer. It’s cool when people respond and say they love the tracks and they’ve played some themselves so let me have a try. That was a good experience.

But to do all these remixes we had to get all the original paths from the productions, not only of the songs that we work with all the time anyway like ‘Body Language’ but also some of the album tracks. Some of the sounds weren’t easy to find again because it’s the digital age and a lot was done with the shareware and little known software synthesisers so we had to dig really deep to find these original sounds. But revisiting all these songs, we were reminded of the way it was 10 years ago, that was a good experience.

There are 10 remixes added to the reissue, is there a particular remix that really surprised you? Or made you hear your song in a new way?
I would say the Nils Frahm remix really surprised me because I was just assuming that he would do something with a lot of piano and then he came out with a very atmospheric, night-time-drive kind of remix which I enjoy a lot when I’m driving at night. The other mix that was surprising was from a rather young producer called Chi Thanh. He did ‘Body Language’ and we were really curious about what he would do because ‘Body Language’ is not an easy song to remix, it has a very distinctive bass line, and to give a new approach to the bass line is quite hard. We were very happy when we heard the result he came up with, it did very well on Beat Port.

With ‘Eve’ it seemed like you guys were already itching to produce darker, heavier techno, the kind of sound you are producing under ‘Yaruba’. Was there a particular influence that made you want to move towards a darker style?
With ‘Yaruba’ it was a project we did in between working on new material. We had a certain idea what an album should be like but sometimes the songs come out and you feel they won’t be part of an album but still they’re good and especially clubby, because on the albums we try not to be that clubby. Like we had a song that came out ‘Black Cow’ and we played it a lot in our set, when we did DJ sets, but we don’t play it now days. At the time we played it, the response was always great, so we said ‘why don’t we do some little project in between the album?’ So it will between now and next year April, when maybe a new Booka Shade album will come out and we thought that would be a nice thing to pass the time a little bit.

What is the typical production process for Booka Shade? Instrumentals first or straight to the machines?
The way songs come about is that Walter sits down in his studio, we both live outside of Berlin now days. We used to have a studio in the centre of Berlin but now we both have families, so we decided to be a little bit outside of the city where it’s greener and calmer. In the old days we would send Mp3s and songs back and forth and work on stuff, but we realised that it’s better, not to a great surprise, but it’s better when we are together in the studio. So we spend a lot of time together in the studio, that’s only been the case for a couple of years, because we saw each other on tours and on the weekends so a couple of times during the week we’d have a separation but then we realised the atmosphere and the outcome is so much better when we are in a room together. For the ‘Movements’ reissue we mainly got together, and when I think of the old times when it came about, we had the studio together with everybody from the Get Physical label, there was always a full house, people coming in sharing stories, bringing in new ideas. So at that time, together with the M.A.N.D.Y guys, there was a feeling of togetherness and the feeling of doing great things together, that’s how the good atmosphere in the ‘Movements’ album came out.

You’ve been in the industry for decades now, it’s an interesting time for electronic music and DJs, because on the one hand DJs are much more credible now, but the government is regulating the scene more. Sydney has these crazy lockout laws, Fabric closed it’s doors and the U.S. has talked about banning raves. What are your thoughts on these changes?
When I think back on the times when we got socialised to techno music, and I’m speaking of the years of the 90s, like ’92, there was a club in Frankfurt called The Omen, which was founded by Sven Väth, and that is how we got into techno, it wasn’t tech-house at the time it was techno basically. There was this feeling of wow something really new happening, something crazy and we’re all in the together, and the whole club just lifts off and everybody is very excited. You need a liberal mind and liberal laws to do this. In Berlin, we still have the luxury of feeling like anything is possible, this is why so many people are so attracted to Berlin and why everyone comes here, the party is very vivid and alive, it can also be very dark, but people can go out. I find it sad because you need this freedom for young people, they need to explore what’s out there; what can I do; the night has to be celebrated in one way. So that’s sad, and now days I see it a little bit differently because we come from a different side, we come from a concert side of things, not so much the raves. We did our share of raving in the years, but it’s the concerts we’re interested in now. What we’re naturally moving towards is to play the concerts with our own production, people coming to see the show and then they may go out and spend the rest of the night somewhere. If I think of the type of shows we do in Sydney and Melbourne, they’re basically like concerts; people come to the Metro and wait for the show to start and this is what we like very much.

‘Movements 10’ is available everywhere now, and you can either get yourself a copy direct from Booka Shade through here, or simply stream it it below.

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