The Booka Shade Interview
We have more than a few things up our sleeve when it comes to chattin’ with folks we wanna chat with. If you hit up Identity Festival two weekends ago, you might have caught Booka Shade‘s set, which immediately followed Modeselektor’s. I’d never seen them perform before, so I was surprised to see them using drums and live keys and synths – a sharp contrast to the minimal set I was expecting. Booka’s songs tend to be more on the chill side, but this set was high-energy, danceable and definitely a runner-up for my favorite of the fest. Iconic house deejays Booka Shade are considered veterans of the Frankfurt electronic music scene. They are also responsible for founding Get Physical Records with DJ T and M.A.N.D.Y., having recently handed the label over to them to focus on other projects. They’re in the process of working on a new album and have gotten quite used to embracing the creative process on the road. We caught up with them during their recent stop in Pittsburgh and asked them a few questions. Here’s what they had to say.
Kymbo Slice – You’ve described your work as having “an almost psychic musical connection” – how does that translate to your relationship as close personal friends? How has your chemistry as a duo evolved since your early days of being in a childhood band?
Arno – Walter and I have known each other for more than 25 years. We first met in school when we were kids. We decided to set up a band because we were very much interested in music and we wanted to try and make a career in music. Nowadays it’s fantastic to see that we’re traveling the world and we’ve created our own little universe in music with Booka Shade. The fact that we’ve known each other for so long is especially good when we’re onstage and when we perform because we work a lot with the music live and we take it up and down. We do have a set list like any other band but we’re able to take it very much up and down and work with the individual parts of the songs. Its good to feel each other and feel when the other one wants to push it up and work with the audience or take it back and let the audience come. It’s a great advantage when you’ve known each other for such a long time.
KS – What’s your take on Identity Festival and the idea of a touring electronic music festival? What positive/negative changes do you think it will bring about “the scene”?
Arno – I was always fascinated by Lollapalooza when it toured the US in the nineties. I thought it was a great idea to take a bunch of people through a country. With Identity Festival especially, its interesting because we can reach cities and we can reach a lot of people we wouldn’t otherwise be able to reach. Tampa for example, Albuquerque, Charlotte, even Pittsburgh. This festival gives us a lot of opportunities. It’s good to see a lot of people show up where can make an impact and we can show people who we are. Many people may not have heard of us so it’s a great way to say hello for us. It brings a lot of different scenes together. There’s a lot of dubstep going on at the moment here. It’s interesting for us to see this, and its interesting for those into dubstep to check out Booka Shade.
KS – Aside from Identity, what are some of your favorite festivals to play? Your appearances at DEMF (Movement) in 2007 and 2010 certainly come to mind. You also recently appeared at Sonar, what was that like?
Arno – DEMF is a very good festival for us. We liked it there. We’ve played it a couple of times already. I always like it when festivals have interesting sights/are at interesting places. Obviously Lolla we liked because its pretty much a rock festival so its interesting for us to perform there. We had a great set there a few years ago. Sasquatch is another good one. Winter Music Conference is a must for us every other year or so. We’ll probably go there in 2012. If our album comes out later, maybe we’ll go in 2013. Outside of the states, Sonar in Spain is another great example.
KS – New projects/collabs in the works? What should we expect from Booka Shade in 2012?
Arno – While we’re traveling America we’re working on a new album. We’re constantly working on the bus and constantly working on ideas. We go to studios on the way. We want to rent a studio in Vancouver when we have a few days off and do some recordings. We’ve done the same in Europe. We want to take a different approach with the new album because the previous ones have been very much produced on the road, in the laptop. The new one, it’s a different story for us because we want to use a lot more outboard equipment. We do more recordings ourselves, more instruments, live played, you know a lot of drums. Many times they won’t sound like acoustic drums in the end, but its all acoustically played and performed in opposite of being recorded on the computer. We may do one or two remixes by early next year.
KS – When you think Pittsburgh, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Be honest!
Arno – The only thing I think of, is that I believe a lot of people from Germany went there and settled down in that area. There’s a strong following of German newspapers there.
Lol at that last comment. We asked Modeselektor that same question during their interview. The first thing they said was “Black & Yellow, Black & Yellow”. They also mentioned the Pirates, surprisingly, as well as some childhood book they read about a kid from Pittsburgh. It’s always interesting to see what outsiders think of our city. Booka Shade is currently finishing up the last leg of their Identity Fest tour and will head back over to Europe to play some dates and continue working on their new album, which is expected to drop sometime in 2012.