Booka Shade are the benchmark for electronic producers everywhere. If you’re at all in existence, you’ve been delighted to the sounds of In White Rooms, Body Language and Madarine Girl. They’ve got a new album on the way and Arno let us in on another few naughty secrets when it comes to what Booka Shade are doing, what their kids are listening to and what we can expect on their Australian tour.
Hey Arno, lovely to be speaking with you! How are you?
Hey Kish, I’m well. We’re in India at the moment for some Dj shows. We had the offer and opportunity to because we played in Singapore and then we got the opportunity to do some days in India where we’ve never been before. We had a great experience. We did a wonderful show in a place called Bangalore. It’s so surprising if you come somewhere so far away from home and you don’t have real expectations about how its going to be. And you arrive and everyone knows your songs and everybody shows their mobile asking for one of your songs. Some songs we didn’t even have in the list because we forgot about them as we hadn’t played them in a long time and it was very interesting. It was a great night that we had. Then we have Delhi and then we go onto to China and that ‘s going to be interesting as well.
Many of the times we’ve come to Australia it would make sense that we’d make a stop somewhere in Asia and its never happened in these places. And India, I wouldn’t call it a culture shock but it was more different to adapt to than to Japan who a lot of peple say it’s a culture shock there. The people are very relaxed for us stressy Germans. Conditions of time are different here. It’s a very nice exercise for us.
Congratulations on your Honeyslave EP. It’s always good to hear new music from you. Does this mean there is an album in the works?
Yes it is. Although basically these songs are out of a concept, or cycle or however you want to call it. The way these songs came along is we released a compilation with Pete Tong in earlier on in the year, in June. It’s the All Gone compilation he does and we were asked to do the second side CD 2 of the compilation. We were very proud and honoured that he asked us! Pete Tong is a great supporter for Booka Shade since the very beginning and also the label Get Physical. And there were two unreleased Booka Shade songs on the compilation which was Honeyslave and Tomorrow Belongs To Us. And then we thought ‘What do we do with these songs? Should we release them as singles?’ It woud have been too obvious to release them on our own little Booka Shade label. So then Steve Aoki came laong. We had met him over ayear ago when we did a long tour in the states it was called the Identity Tour. It was a travelling festival through the the US. 5 weeks with more than 30 shows in America. Many of the acts travelled together so you saw them at every sow we talked to Steve about music and he was a Booka Shade fan we found out. And of course the music he does on Dim Mak is very different. He kept talking to us saying, “Oh I want to do a single with you, I wanna do something with you” and we always thought how do we do that? And we had these songs coming along and we thought why not try it. It turned out to be a very good experience for us especially in the states where he is so huge and he has all these Twitter followers.
I have Twitter on my phone as well although I don’t use it. It’s always nice to see what people write. I had to stop it because there was too much happening and too much traffic on my phone so that was a great experience. And then we’ll have a new album which is basically already finishied and we just have to do the track listing. So by the time we come to Australia I think we’ll already have the single or ep at least in the promotion, not out yet but we’ll be promting it and we’ll play a lot of new songs at the live show anyway.
You’re touring through Asia right now and doing something crazy like 8 cities in 10 days. After September you have no dates for shows until January next year. What are you going to do with your time off?
Well as usual it’s not really time off. We always have shows, a couple here and a couple there. It’s always good to try out new songs at the dj shows so it’s always good we can test them. But the main work until December is to have the new live show in place which is a lot of work.. We’re going to have a lot of new stuff on the stage but also a lot of new songs form the upcoming album but also the old songs with new mixes and arrangemnts of old songs and it does take a lot of time for us. We put a lot of work in it as it’s going to be the main focus. And then of course rehearsals. Before Christmas with the whole crew and the place where we set up and everything and test everything.
So what’s the craziest thing that has happened to either of you on tour?
(laughs) There are so many! I’ll only work with just the experiences here in India. You just have to laugh about it sometimes. How long things take or how they try and check your suitcase with all this electronic equipment and you realize they have no clue on what to test anyway because it’s all very strange to them this material that we have. All the crazy people you meet. But off the top of my head many times you see people in the first row do the craziest things or completely out of their minds. So it’s funny to see what universe these guys are in so its can be very entertaining. Travelling can be very boring at times. Shows can be very rewarding and meeting a lot of new people is great of course
What kind of music do you both listen to at the moment and are there any producers you think we should keep an eye on?
Mmm well generally we tend to listen to no music at all which is great sometimes to enjoy the silence. When we’re not on tour we try and spend as much time with the family and they have their own music. Walter’s kids are younger and that’s kids music, whereas my son is in his Michael Jackson phase at the moment so I listen to Michael Jackson all day in the car – there is worse music out there. I know Thriller form Michael Jackson pretty well now (laughs). A part from that I enjoy the new Matthew Dear album. He has been around for a long time and only now starting to be recognised I read a lot about him in the more indie electronic media and he has his label Ghostly so watch out for this guy, it’s a good album I think.
Anything exciting happening on Get Phsyical Records that you can tell us about?
Well as you probably know we created the label and we set it up and were founders of the label together with M.A.N.D.Y. and DJ T and we decided that it was better we look after our own stuff and basically the M.A.N.D.Y. guys are the only ones who continue with Get Physical. We are stil friends and we speak at least once a week on Skype or on the phone and we try and do M.A.N.D.Y. vs Booka Shede material. As Booka Shade we’re not owners of the label anymore as there is too much politics going on. We realized it’s better for us to concentrate on creating music that’s where we come from as we’re musicians and producers not A&Rs and record label people. Other people are much better at that. So we concentrate on our music and we’re happy with our decision and we wish the guys the best of course.
So you’ve been doing a live show for a long time now. Do you see yourselves changing or revolutionizing your act in the future?
Well things will change and there will be progress different htings happening on the next tour.. I don’t want to talk too much about it and let anything slip give us more freedom and more space on the stage to influence the music and work with the music even more in the past. Soemthign we want to put the focus on us. People know us and appreciate that we are a live act that plays electronic music live on stage and we want to have more ways of manipulating the music and the sounds and everything which is a bit of a risk we know because in the end people want a perfect show and many people don’t even care about how much is actually live. Many times they see big LED shows and don’t really care what’s live but we care about it and we have a feeling we have a musically interested audience that is sometimes happier to hear a mistake or something that is not completely perfect on stage but they feel that it’s live. I think that its more exciting and keeps you going for a longer time because we know, we haven’t played many live shows now in the last year and a half we’ve played some big festivals and some shows like Brixton Academy for example but we know when we commit to do another album and commit to do a tour it will be 2 years long so you’ve got to make sure that it’s something that really excites you, you know that is interesting for yourself as a musician. What we’ve put a lot of work in at the moment to see how the set up will be and what we can work with so yeah, it’s fun times at the moment.
You guys have been kicking around since 1995. A lot of the people who go out now weren’t even old enough to walk then let alone enjoy the dance music scene. How do you think the scene has changed since then?
Well it always changes of course and just like we always change and we’ve had many other projects, we only really focused on Booka Shade from 2004/5 when the Memento album first came out. When Body Language and Mandarine Girl came out that’s when we really stopped doing other things and focused on doing Booka Shade things only. What I find very interesting, many times is how many young people come to the shows and they know the songs. You’re talking about ’95, I’m talking about Body Language which came out in 2006. Many of these kids weren’t even allowed to go to the club. I wonder how they know [the song] because it’s not music that gets played on the radio or that you’re exposed to all the time on the radio or media so it’s in a way niche music but it works globally. The internet is such a great, powerful chanell for us. Booka shade is a typical internet group. Body Language which was never in the charts and never realsed on a major label with big promotion. It’s a pure underground song yet it’s known everywhere because of the internet.
And I guess this is how the kids know about the music because somebody tells them ‘I’ve been to the show its such a great electronic live show and its crazy, the guys really work on stage and they sweat and there’s power coming off stage’; and I can only imagine this is the enthusasiam that we bring on stage and that catches the audience. You know, they tell their friends and this is probably how it works. For sure there is no big money in promotion we do this independently, so we don’t have the money other big acts have. On the other hand, we have much more creative freedom and we have much more control with what happens with the music so we’re very happy with this sutation
So just finally, have you ever been tempted to add that your hotel room MUST be ALL white on your rider?
Because of in White Rooms? (laughs) Well the song originates because we went to a hotel in Stockholm in 2000-and-I don’t remember, where the whole interior was white. That’s where the name actually comes from. But I think it’s about time where all the rooms we stay in are equipped in a certain way I think. We really need to work on our riders and also backstage. They have to be well like, The Rolling Stones they’ve got their own bar and their own pub we should do something crazy like that (laughs) but you bring up a very good idea, we’ll work on that in the future and get more exotic stuff happening
Great, thanks so much for your time Arno! Enjoy the rest of your tour in Asia and hopefully see you in Australia soon.
Thanks Kish, see you then!
Catch Booka Shade with their new and improved live show in Australia