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Interview: Booka Shade

We catch up with Booka Shade as they join Renaissance in celebrating their 20th anniversary at Pacha this summer...

As Renaissance take over the island for several dates this summer they are joined by various world class DJs, who in turn will help them celebrate their 20 year milestone. This coming Tuesday will see German duo Booka Shade join M.A.N.D.Y and Audiofly as they bring the famous electronic and underground sounds of the globally renowned brand to Pacha.

Here we catch up with Arno Kammermeier and Walter Merziger to find out about their imprint, Get Physical Music, their latest releases and what they plan to bring to Ibiza this summer through their captivating sound and unique set up...

You have been working as a duo for many years now, tell us how your paths crossed and how Booka Shade came about?

We met in a school band more than 20 years ago when we were kids and our inspiration was the sound of the 80's; all the new wave stuff that came out of England such as The Cure, New Order, Depeche Mode – we were obviously great fans. It was always electronic music, then later on when we got into the first tech house in the early 90's the club life was a big inspiration for us.

On the other side of things, some of our inspiration comes from film music, we love soundtracks and we also like creating music for moving pictures. That hasn't really changed up to now, there are always new bands evolving that we like to listen to but a lot still lies with the DNA from the tracks from back in the day.

Talk to us about Get Physical Music, the label you started alongside M.A.N.D.Y, how did it happen and what was the concept behind it? Did you think it would be as big as it has been?

It was an amazing time we had together, there were six people at the time and we all came from different angles but we were all at the same point when we said we had to change our lives. We were pop producers at the time and wanted to go back to our roots to start again and so we did... the rest is history. I mean it was a very big surprise for us and all the success we have has built up from that moment on... it's really some kind of magic.

You guys are not just DJs but also very talented musicians, tell us how you think performing with instruments, keyboards and synthesizers and so on adds something special to your sets?

For the live performances we always put a lot of work into it. There was a time when we first started the live shows that we used to come home from a weekend and would immediately change things on the set for the following weekend then we would come home and change again. I think what's special about the show is that people see two guys on the stage working really hard with their equipment and basically what you see is what you get. Since our music is relatively minimalistic you can see what's happening on stage and I think people react to this very well.

You've not long released your album 'All gone Pete Tong & Booka shade Ibiza 2012', how did this come about and why did you choose the tracks that you did?

What we wanted to do is present a mix that represents Ibiza for us, for me especially as I have spent a lot of summers over the last 20 years coming out to the island. To me the island is much more than this crazy party island where people fly in, go completely crazy for a week and then go home and it's always the same beat and the beat goes on and on forever. There's much more to the island, it's a beautiful place, everyone who has been there and been outside of the party mile will say the same thing.

So we wanted to incorporate the diversity of the island into the mix, and show that Booka Shade isn't just about one beat going on and on forever... it goes up and down, it looks left and right, it builds up then breaks down again. It goes to 80bpm with a very slow song, goes a little strange and then builds up again, goes into the club and ends in the morning light.

You produced 'Honeyslave' which features on the album, what is this track all about and tell us a bit about the sound?

There are 2 tracks on the album: one is called Honey Slave and the other is called Tomorrow Belongs To Us, both are new Booka Shade tracks. One is clubbier and has a lot of percussive elements and was actually made for a new album but it fitted in so well with the mix that we decided to include it on the compilation. The other is the last track on the album and is a very sunny, positive, typical Booka Shade riff rhythm track with a nice, positive atmosphere… it's very Ibiza.

Honey Slave is a track that we played in the DJ sets for the last twenty shows and it's always worked so well so we said that this should be part of the compilation as well as the live stage shows.

You have already been in Ibiza this summer and have another gig on the 3rd July when Renaissance take over Pacha again. What do you think about the new DJ booth and club layout?

The new booth is much closer to the dance floor and to the audience, which is great... you have the whole club in front of you. The show we played together with Pete Tong was a great experience and we can't wait to come back!

What can we expect from your set, will it be a DJ set or are you coming armed with some instruments?

What we call DJ set is what everybody else would call 'live', because we bring additional synths, FX units, drum pads etc. even our DJ sets sound like they are live. The only reason why we don't call it 'live' is... well, you may know our live shows and they are a whole different beast!

Your good friends M.A.N.D.Y are also on the line-up, how is it when you play at the same gigs as them?

It's always great - i think the vibe is different, not only for us being old friends but also for the audience. I have the feeling the audience realises that we really enjoy being together, it will be great fun. Also it'll be my (Arno's) birthday... what a party that will be!

Are you currently working on any new material that you can tell us about?

We have been working on an album that will come out in September, but we just don't know which year!

Check out our latest podcast from M.A.N.D.Y!

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