1 novembre 2013

Interview of Booka Shade.

Booka Shade. Left: Walter Merziger - Right: Arno Kammermeier
LPO visited for you an electric festival called "L'Ososphère" in Strasbourg. A wonderful program including Fat Boy Slim, Kavinsky, Laurent Garnier, Yuksek or Booka Shade, which have accepted an interview. This band, one of the main figures of the German electro scene has released its new album named Eve on the 1st November. While the audience was enjoying the music in front of the stage, the two friends forming Booka Shade, Arno Kammermeier and Walter Merziger, seemed to enjoy giving this energy with a smile on their face. Thus, a good occasion to talk about this band, which is sometimes unrecognized in France. To start, we look back on one of the most famous songs of the band.

LPO: Your new album Eve is released on the 1st November, three years after your opus More, what happened between these years? 

Arno: What happens....(laughs). We worked on the album for quite a long time. Actually, it wasn't like we went to the Caribbean for two and a half year and return and did the album. It was a long process of song writing and finding the right way and the right style, in a way. Because it's the fifth album and there is a history with Booka Shade as an instrumental act. It's different to a band, when
you have a singer you can change the music and still the singer will keep the sound together if he has a remarkable voice. But with an instrumental act you have to find the music itself and it has to tell the story and has to bring the style. So we look for ways not to repeat ourselves and still to sound like Booka Shade and it took quite a long time and it was sometimes a very painful process for us.

LPO: What are you bringing with this new album and what do you want to express more?

Walter: We had a big crisis to be honest, it was very dangerous for the whole project. We didn't know what to say anymore, it was like emptyness, and we had a song written and it was not convincing for us .We already booked the tour and we played the Coachella Festival, all this American festivals, Australia, South America and we had no album but it was not good for us. So we threw the whole album in the garbage and said "Ok let's start again" but it was not, the production, not all coming together, it was a very long and painfull process. And we found that place in Manchester, a very nice studio, we could record some real drums, acoustic drums. The building, it's a house full of the strangest and wildest equipements you can imagine. You can sleep and eat there, so we didn't leave the house for a while and it was a great experience. We found also a unity again as a band, we felt again like a band as we said in the documentary that we did and it was a really nice experience and from that point on, it opened up and we realized "Ok now, it's the direction, it's clear now". Of course we changed at the end some songs that we didn't record in that studio but they were, they came out of this atmosphere, everything was starting to roll and to feel natural again.

LPO: Do you think that you had an influence of "Madchester"1 ?
Vue extérieure de l'Haçienda
Walter: It's the same when we play in Seattle, in Manchester, London, all these are legendary places for me. Firstly, when we drive in the city it's always something, of course, we are looking where the Hacienda was, which is not existing anymore. It's an industry building and now appartements, there is just a little plate of the Hacienda. There is a certain energy, it was a little bit outside of Manchester. It's the weather, it's the atmosphere in England, it's the whole feeling it's different and I'm not sure if there's really, I don't think that there is, a Manchester feeling in the album but I think the place, the
studio, where we recorded, is a special place and has a certain atmosphere and there is magic in this house and I think perhaps it comes from Manchester, I don't know...

1: Madchester was a musical movement mixing House and Rock in the 1980's and 1990's, based in Manchester and is the contraction of "Mad" and "Manchester". The Haçienda Club is the symbol of this era and have made with the help of the label Factory Records the recognition of bands as The Stones Roses or Happy Mondays.

LPO: It's been a few months that you're on tour, have you already tested the new album?
Arno: To be honest tonight is the very last show of the old tour, originally these shows, we thought that we were going to make it as a DJ set and then we decided to do it live. So, it's an end of an era. But we tried out a lot of the new songs which we are going to play in the new show, we tried them out as a DJ set since. All the time we worked on the album, the good thing about "DJing" is that you can take a song, if it's a dancing song or a clubby song, and you can try it out as a DJ set and then continuing the work, that's the really interesting thing about "DJing". But the new show will start and the premiere will be in Amsterdam at the ADE (Amsterdam Dance Event) in the middle of October. This tour was made because we didn't have an album. We booked already an European Tour, an American Tour. So we were like "what can we do...?" So it's the show that you see for the last time. So it's what we did without an album. "It's the No Album Tour "(laughs).
 1st track of the new album - Love Inc

LPO: What is your point of view on Berlin's scene, seen as a capital of electro? And what do you think of this German scene, in your last album? You especially worked with Fritz Kalkbrenner, one of the figures of this scene.

Fritz Kalbrenner sur sa pochette d'album
Arno: Fritz Kalkbrenner, that's the singer who did the song actually. The song was recorded almost two years ago and it's because he asked for a remix of the songs and we said "allright we do a remix and in return why you don't sing a song for us?" and it's how the cooperation came about, already a long time ago. In between, he recorded his second album and his own tour and everything and now the song is coming out in November.
Berlin's scene, of course, the topic wherever you go in the world, people ask you "where are you from? Berlin.", everybody said, "Sure of course, it has to be...". It has a long history, we are not original Berliner, we used to live in Frankfurt and actually we lived and grew up in Saarbrücken. And of course it became a capital of electronic especially. And so many artists in the world come to Berlin
because the costs of living are low and for a long time there were a lot of empty places where the people could do something like empty warehouses and everything. That's ending, this era is ending because the prices go up in Berlin as well, so rent goes up but it was for a long time a paradise actually for artists and many labels.

LPO: We are actually in a French festival, it's a way to talk about the French electro scene, what do you think of this and what is your contact with France?
Arno: Kavinsky, we met on an Australian Tour, we just said hello as we came in. We have to say about the French situation, because we met some of these artists but it was always in different countries, that we had a very good start in France. So, I start with the capital of French artists that we know, Laurent Garnier is a long time inspiration and it's a guy that we meet very regularly in festivals and everywhere. Then we first started to get physical with a label and we first started with Booka Shade in 2004-2005. We played in France quite regularly, we did good shows in Paris and in the South of France, but it was before Daft Punk came back and also just before Justice. All the French guys there were so big in France that we thought that there is no place anymore for us, so we stayed away for a while. Everytime we did come back, especially to Paris, it was great. We felt amazing and there were also a lot of people but it seems like the time was not there for a while now we're getting first feed back on the new album and that it could be a good time to come back to France and you see last weekend we played in Lille, now in Strasbourg, then we do Marseilles also, then we have Paris, so there is a couple of French shows coming up and for us it's great, no kidding, but we like the country a lot because we lived so close to France. So the feeling is there, I hope we can do some more shows.

LPO:You played on this tour with Depeche Mode, a band which stays a reference for you. What did you feel ?
Walter: We already played with them in 2006 in Berlin and we found Booka Shade more or less as a live band. We made the opening of Depeche Mode in 2006, I was speechless actually and that's not very often the case. We had the second chance to play in Tel Aviv and they treated us like a prince or a king, it was really, really nice, we had a long soundcheck, we had a great slot, one hour to play, immediatly then they started to play. It was very cool, there is some kind of connetion between our sound and the music we do and being a fan of Depeche Mode, so we went up very well, we had a great concert and we could play in a full house of 40,000 people because it was so close from the Depeche Mode gig, everybody was there, it was a great experience. 

Thanks to the band and all the team around for this interview - LPO

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