In the lead up to their Australian tour and the release of their new album, Cut The Strings, Ozclubbers' @GALLEON chats with Booka Shade about their music, the album, and just life in general!
We warmly welcome you both Arno & Walter back to Australia for your run of dates in March. You have frequented our shores regularly in the last 10 years. What is it that keeps bringing you back down under?
Ever since we first came in 2007, we have found an enthusiastic and loyal fanbase who not only cherishes the classic tracks, but also embraces more recent songs such as LOVE INC .
We played some of the biggest festivals such as big day out, future fest etc, but also enjoy the headline club shows, like Melbourne last weekend and the ones coming up in Brisbane, Auckland and Adelaide (during fringe festival) .
As the new album is only coming out in a couple of weeks, we play a lot of unreleased album songs in Australia, and it´s great to see the reaction of the crowd.
Your previous live shows have never disappointed and always left the listener wanting more. Can you let us in on a few secrets as to what we might experience this time around?
I guess it´s not really a secret when I say that we simply LOVE performing on a stage. that´s what we are really good at (together with producing music I hope) .
And on this tour, also because the sound of the album is more ´back to the club´, our setup is very condensed , we have all channels for synthesizers, effects, drums under control on stage, we can react quickly and can interact more spontaneously , which gives the set great energy .
With your last album Galvany Street, you took a different approach to your previous albums, which included the use of more hardware and featured various collaborations. Does Cut The Strings have any similarities to Galvany Street or have you gone back to a predominantly club approach?
After our 2013 album EVE we had the feeling that we had said everything in terms of bass lines and riffs. we had the feeling we would only repeat ourselves if we continued in our ´usual´ way, and as artists, we definitely always want to progress, evolve, not repeat.
Which sounds risky, because we have a career we could perhaps simply continue for years and years.
But that would be too easy …. :-)
So on GALVANY STREET, we made an unusual step and produced an album outside of the techno box, no techno 4/4 beats , no ´booka synth riffs´ , a lot of vocals, even pop song writing.
Most of the vocal tracks are together with Craig Walker, former member of the UK band ARCHIVE. btw he´s got a new project coming up called THEM THERE.
We also collaborated with Fritz Hilpert from KRAFTWERK on a Dolby atmos mix of the entire album which was released as Blu-ray disc and is part of the Box Set we released.
We needed this time out to recharge our club batteries and indeed, we found new inspiration for club music !
And now, with this new enthusiasm for the club, comes CUT THE STRINGS .
After the galvany street the only guideline we had was that we wanna go back to more clubbier music and that we don‘t wanna work so crazy long on tracks as we did in the past.it should be more spontaneous and open minded.
You have worked with Troels Abrahamsen (vocalist on Kolsch 'All That Matters') on your latest single and title track, Cut The Strings. How did you get to know Troels?
We actually contacted him years ago, shortly after ´all that matters´, and recorded a first version of what would later become CUT THE STRINGS.
But then the GALVANY STREET project came in between and we put the song aside for a while, and picked up work in the autumn of last year.
One of the novelties of the album CUT THE STRINGS is that we worked much more spontaneous and finished the production process quicker.
On previous albums we easily worked for 2, even 3 years on an album. Again, that´s something we wanted to change in 2018.
With your latest live show, do you individually have specific functions within the show or do you collaborate on all aspects?
The work spaces are clearly defined since we first started: Walter plays keyboards, vocoder, sequences, Arno plays the drums and whenever we play longer sets, he does a DJ part in the middle of the set.
When writing Cut The Strings, did you find any tried and tested production techniques useful?
We used some instruments that we didn‘t use for a long time , for example an old EMS vocoder which we bought from Ian Stanley a former member of the 80‘s group tears for fears.
You can hear it on tyrell and of course EMS love.this little box has a very special sound.
How much do you find your methods of producing music evolve with the vast amount of software and plugins available?
Even if it is so easy nowadays to do a good sound with all the plug inns which are out there ,we‘re always looking for new sounds with a character which can help to improve the trademark sound of Booka Shade.
Not easy but it‘s worth it.
It‘s all about challenging yourself and not be stuck in a formula.
How do you both remain resilient and at the top of your game while touring given the long hours and continual amount of work needing to be done to make your performances so memorable?
We have a pretty good time management, considering we both have families and a lot of obligations aside of music. also, we live a rather healthy lifestyle lately, and it´s incredible how much you can get done in a day and how much more energy you can have even with little sleep.
Looking into your back catalogue, you both have an extensive history as producers under various aliases and in several groups stretching back to the better part of 30 years. Would you ever consider reviving any of the older projects you both worked on together (for example Superstring)?
Ha ha, you´re digging deep …… well not everything was gold , but having said that, most of the rights from the 90´s should have long fallen back to us, so you never know…. go listen to old demos and releases every now and then and then look for sounds and sequences on old hard drives. you can imagine, there are dozens of old computers and hard drives ...
In the last few years you have set up Blaufield Music. Tell us a little about your label and its functions.
We had founded the label Get Physical together with our friends M.A.N.D.Y. , DJ T. and Peter Hayo in the early 2000´s and left in 2008, so we needed a new outlet for our music. and every now and then we release songs from friends of ours, for example fellow berliner CHI THANH, who has produced a magnificent remix for Body Language btw).
Could be that after the summer we´ll release a project of friends of ours from Melbourne.
Within the music industry, you as individuals and collectively as Booka Shade are known for having a great reputation and being highly professional while always remaining humble. Are these qualities you would recommend any DJ, producer or musician should withhold in order to maintain longevity in the scene?
Absolutely. most people who have been successful over a longer period of time (not just two summers) are very professional, work hard and stay grounded.
Who would you say has inspired you the most musically over the last 30 years?
Depeche mode, The Cure, New Order, Sven Vath
Do you have any tips as to who is about to blow up in the next couple of years?
ARTBAT from Ukraine are having a good run atm, look out for them.
Finally, feel free to tell us a fun fact that we wouldn't know about Booka Shade.
We love gardening in our free time.
Album Pre-order: https://sweatitout.lnk.to/CutTheStrings
Booka Shade – Australian Tour Dates
Saturday 10th March: Days Like This, Victoria Park, Sydney
Sunday 11th March: Prince Bandroom, Melbourne
Friday 16th March: The Met, Brisbane
Saturday 17th March: Powerstation, Auckland NZ
Sunday 18th March: Royal Croquet Club, Adelaide Fringe Festival