One act who have been pushing the boundaries and themselves to new heights over the last decade has been Booka Shade, whose studio and live productions have made them a massive draw for dance fans across the world, and who are returning to Ireland later this month when they play Vicar Street on April 26.
Gazette Music caught up with one half of Booka Shade, Arno Kammermeier, who was in Berlin doing some work in the studio ahead of the band’s European tour which celebrates the release late last year of their fifth studio album, the brilliant Eve.
It looks like this will be an extremely busy time for the German duo of Arno and Walter Merziger, who have been creating music for over 25 years now.
“We are preparing for the next leg of the live tour which we start next week in Germany, and then, we are coming to Dublin before we head on to the States and come back for the festival circuit for the summer in Europe. We are remixing the next song coming from the album. I am working on a mix for Fact Magazine (factmag.com), and working with (dance music legend) Sasha. I’m in the midst of the music at the moment!”
Having been in the industry for so long, Arno and Walter have constantly pushed themselves and the way they present their music, almost reinventing themselves time and again on the five albums they have released to date, reimagining tracks as they remix the likes of The Knife, Depeche Mode and Hot Chip, and bringing their songs to life in new ways in their always impressive and inventive live shows.
“The live shows have become a very important part of our lives. We started the project 10 years ago – before that we were producers in the studio and we did not travel very much – and it became a bit of an addiction, going places and getting out and seeing how people react to the music.
“There’s a lot that we can do live, that we can use the energy that comes from the crowd, and use the vibe in the room to create more energy, you can use it and play yourself into the energy. That’s why you become a musician in the first place, is to lose yourself in the music,” said Arno.
Booka have also come through a time when they needed new impetus, and part of that is the use of acoustic instruments in the creation of Eve, something that Arno has considered bringing into the live show. However, the visual complexity and technical intricacy of their shows means that there is only so much they can do – this time around.
“You never know, we did want to [bring in more elements and instrumentation] for this tour, but we weren’t ready yet. We have a new visual concept, which is taken from the beautiful artwork for the album by a guy called La Boca.
“The songs need to be synchronized with the visuals so it is a complete and compact show, but we want to be able to, like in a DJ set, throw songs in and react to them – it is more complex in a live setting, but we are thinking of things like that. We are getting more and more open to inputs [from outside the band], and working with new people in the studio. We want to bring more and more of a live feel into the show.
“The music we create is not the same thing all the way through, it has many shapes and shades and many atmospheres within it.”
Arno spoke also about how much he is looking forward to coming back to Ireland with Booka Shade.
“We have played Dublin many times. It’s one of those places, like Barcelona where we played last week, where we have played great shows and the people are amazing. There was a driver who picked us up in Dublin in 2005 when we came to Ireland for the first time, and we asked him, what’s new in Ireland? He seemed to have a background as a tour guide, and told us all about the Liffey and all the history of the country.
“It is a joy to be able to present your songs in new places. I hope the live show will be amazing and we’re going to have a great time.”