Booka Shade: The club head-space

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Booka Shade is one act that’s always assured an ecstatic reception down under. Since 2007, the duo has made yearly visits, its live show growing bigger and more bombastic each time. This summer, we’re seeing a different side to Walter Merziger and Arno Kammermeier. Instead of taking to the Boiler Room stage at Big Day Out with their usual array of machines, the guys will be in DJ mode. Don’t expect a half-hearted effort, though…

Speaking to inthemix from Berlin in the midst of December’s snow-storm, Arno is understandably keen to get back to our sunny climes. Unfathomably chirpy for 7am on a Tuesday, he tells us all about why Booka Shade caught the DJing bug.

Coming to the end of 2010, is it all a bit of a blur?
We had a very busy year that started in Australia actually with the Future Music Festival where we played live. Then we presented the new album in the major cities like London, Berlin and Paris. We also did a quick US tour with a couple of really nice highlights like in Denver, where we played Red Rocks which is a fantastic outdoor arena in the Rocky Mountains.

Did the live show develop even further from the ‘Big Balls’ set-up we saw at Future Music Festival?
Yeah, for some of the festivals we brought in really big LED lights. They were called ‘Bad Boys’, for good reason. They’re really huge and were constructed for the U2 360 tour. So we had this and then also on the DJ side, we had a residency at Space in Ibiza over the summer which did very well, I think we are going to do it next year again.

I know your DJ set-up is quite involved – do you think that’s because you take a producer’s approach to DJing?
For a long time we said DJing is a completely different art form. But what is now fascinating for us is to work with other people’s music. That’s something very new for us. It’s almost like remixing every night; remixing a lot of people at the same time when you do a DJ set.

And of course it wouldn’t just be taking two CD players, that wouldn’t work for us. We have a Traktor system which I control and then Walter adds a lot of effects and has a synthesiser with him for extra melody lines and for fiddling around with the music. And then we do a lot of edits of the music we play, and of course we have special DJ edits of our own songs.

So at the moment we are about to finish the versions for Big Day Out, so that there will be new versions of Body Language, In White Rooms and Mandarine Girl, especially for these DJ shows.

Has the DJing opened up new opportunities for you that wouldn’t have worked with the live rig?
We try to bring it to places where it is mostly difficult to bring the live show. Of course for Big Day Out there was a special invitation where we just had to say yes. Also it’s a nice change for us because we have played Australia many times live, so doing the DJ thing with special visuals on a big stage is interesting for us.

Other than that, we try to do the DJ shows at clubs and at places where it is difficult to bring the live show. Cavo Paradiso in Mykonos is a very well-known club, but it’s tiny, it would be impossible to bring the live show there. So people were very happy for us to come there for a very late show that went into the morning.

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