Re-inventing an iconic Movement: A chat with Booka Shade
We had a chat with German pioneer Arno Kammermeier, one half of the iconic techno duo BOOKA SHADE ahead of the Australian leg of their MOVEMENTS 10 tour. This year marks 10 years since the release of their iconic album MOVEMENTS, which has been re-worked by some of the biggest names in dance music, including NILS FRAHM, SCUBA and DEETRON.
BOOKA SHADE have always been ahead of the curve with their production, among the first major dance acts to weave live elements into their sets. One of the major turning points for the duo was during their ‘05 set in Barcelona at SONAR festival, when they debuted a fully live set. “Our long time friend M.A.N.D.Y has always been a massive supporter of our sound, and they helped prompt us to incorporate the live elements in our shows,” Arno said about exploring their first foray into live electronica.
There’s something deeply spiritual about the first time you experience live dance music. When BOOKA SHADE burst on the scene with their unique, melancholic, yet lifting style of dance music, the game was changed for electronic performers. Experimentation and exploration, the duo helped carve a whole new fortuitous landscape. Dance music has always been heavily based around elements of rhythm and percussion, so the duo felt this could be transplanted through live performance. “We came about during a time when dance music hadn’t really been performed live before, so it was really special for us to interact with our fans and see them react to the music,” Arno said about developing their live sets.
Booka Shade were also perceived in a variety of ways. The duo were also among the first to incorporate an accompanying visual element. “From our very first show in 2004, we always included visuals. When we had our first show in a club in Berlin called The Watergate, we bought our own cinema screen, and we showed visuals on that. Looking back it was quite naïve the way we started with it, but we were very passionate about including a visual element from the beginning,” Arno said. Whilst they may not have imagined that this would become a core element of dance culture, it was clear to them that visuals could work with the sound and help tell a story.
Music is incredibly formative beyond the development of personal taste, it’s also a core basis for personal social development. “Your teen years have massive influence on the way you socialise, the parties you decide to go, and the music you’re exposed to,” Arno reflected. It’s not hard to see that Booka Shade’s style has always been deeply grounded in classic experimental dance acts. “During your teenage years, music is part of your socialisation. We really loved the sounds of Depeche Mode and New Order. A lot of the layers and some of the atmosphere we have in our music have origins in the music of Depeche Mode. Sometimes elements of New Order come through in our sound as well.”
Technology has always impelled Booka Shade. The duo began working with acoustic elements, but it was their passion for new technology that provoked experimentation with live electronica. “In the very beginning, I got into it with acoustic drums, but I was interested in the drum machines that came out in the 80s,” Arno said. Booka Shade’s style of production, and complex layering is unmistakable. Percussion is the foundation of each Booka track, as Arno explained, “We started to use the drum machine as the basis, and layer the synth sounds on top of it because we didn’t have any money to spend on proper antique stuff.” A lesson to emerging producers with passion, and a few dollars, that once you have the core elements, you have the foundation for dance magic.
MOVEMENTS had a massive impact on the dance community upon its release. An emotive, complex and profound piece of work that garnered the duo’s prodigious critical acclaim. Booka Shade have produced hit after hit over the years, working mostly autonomously. Arno elaborated, saying, “Typically we’re not known for our collaborations. We tend to be in our own universe in the studio. We can get lost in our own musical journey and sometimes we find it difficult to work together with people.” However, the duo are certainly always pushing through personal boundaries, and did so in a big way when they released a massive rework of their classic album, for MOVEMENTS 10. Speaking of that time, Arno said, “We had a fantastic time collaborating on MOVEMENTS 10 we got to celebrate the old stuff in a new way. We felt like we’d said all we had to say with the original album so it was interesting to hear other peoples interpretations of our work. We also got to work with NILS FRAHM, which was really exciting for us.”
Booka Shade are renowned for their captivating live performances, and the duo have a lot planned for their MOVEMENTS 10 sets. “We’re doing a whole new creation of visuals, which we will be playing when we’re in Australia.” And, as a special treat for die hard fans Arno hinted that they’ll “be playing a lot of the songs we haven’t played in a long time, or haven’t played at all before.”
Booka Shade have accrued a massive following since their breakthrough in 2004. They’re especially looking forward to playing Down Under. “We love it in Australia. People are friendly, the weather’s great and there’s always a really positive vibe.” Exploring and playing to fans is a real thrill for touring artists, but it’s the headline shows that the duo really get to know their audiences in an intimate setting, as Arno explained, “Headline club shows are really extraordinary, when everyone is there to just to see you, it gets very interesting.” We can’t wait.
Movements 10 is shaping up to be Booka Shade‘s most captivating performance to date.
Booka Shade will be playing live at Metro Theatre
January 6, 2017
Tix and info here
They’ll also be playing at Falls Festival