Q&A: Tech House veterans Booka Shade discuss their beginnings, their future

By E.R. Pulgar

via Lola Izola for WSN

Walter Merziger and Arno Kammermeier, better known to  fans as the legendary house music duo Booka Shade, sat down with WSN to talk about the formation of their duo, why they love what they do, and where they are going on the decade-spanning journey that is their career.

WSN: When did Booka Shade form?

AK: The first two 12-inch records we had with Booka Shade were in the mid-90s.

WM: At that time, we did a lot of different of projects in the underground techno scene but Booka Shade as you know it was set up in 2004. We founded a label called “Get Physical” in 2002, and that’s when we started to produce the music for this label and the first Booka Shade album was released.

WSN: What do you guys love the most about being musicians?

AK: The work in the studio; being creative, writing new songs, producing. To see how people react when they check out the new stuff is a lot of fun for us. Creating a good show, doing something that has a certain quality of drama that is built up and has the right climax and is very emotional. It should be the right mix of what the people expect with unexpected stuff.

WM: Before we started Booka Shade, we had a long career as music producers, not with our own band but with anything that would come. We were successful with that, but we stopped because we were unsatisfied and we wanted to do something that we loved, not just something for someone else. Booka Shade is a 100 percent project from the heart and that is very important.

WSN: As performers that have influenced many others in the electronic scene, who influenced you?

AK: All of them, all of the others. There are a couple of big influences; our tone is very much the music from the early 80’s when we were teenagers. We’re inspired by soundtrack music; we were always intrigued by it. We worked on our first album, Memento, at night with movies on the DVD player without the sound on and we did our own music for what was happening on-screen, so that was another big influence.

WSN: What do you enjoy most about the North American scene?

WM: When we were younger, you could basically count German bands that had international careers on one hand. There were many people, including us, that worked on a certain kind of music that had no lyrics, so you just had to understand the emotion. Like with “Body Language,” everybody knows it wherever we play, and that’s a great feeling. Particularly in America we always have fun because it’s about performance. When we do a live show, the audience sees what we do: they see the drums and the keyboards. People like that everywhere in the States.

WSN: Where do you guys see this duo going in five years?

AK: Well, we never made real plans, have we? If you had told me when I was a kid who wanted to be in Wembley Stadium and play [his] music “Kid, someday you will headline a stage at Coachella, you will headline big stages,” I would’ve laughed. I wouldn’t have thought that it would be possible, but it is. It’s a great privilege that we can travel the world, so I don’t know. We don’t try to make too many plans and just let it happen.

WSN: Closing remarks?

WM: Stay physical!

AK: Be happy.

E.R. Pulgar is music editor. Email him at music@nyunews.com

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