Booka Shade - 100 Degrees In The Shade
3D’s Cyclone speaks with Booka Shade, returning to Australia for the first time since the release of their latest album, The Sun & The Neon Light.
Booka Shade could be Germany’s Daft Punk. They’re largely responsible for Berlin’s exploding electro house scene, but, says Arno Kammermeier, Booka Shade are yet to be where they want to be.
“We would love to become one of the major electronic acts in the world. You have the big acts like The Chemical Brothers and then Underworld – we would love to come next, but it takes a while,” he says.
Booka Shade’s success is borne from failure. As teenagers, Kammermeier and Walter Merziger were in the synth-pop group Planet Claire on EMI, making music like their heroes Depeche Mode. They had a hit with Heaven In Your Hands. However, things fell apart when they naively allowed themselves to be styled into a boy band.
In a sense, Planet Claire were doomed. At that time, German electro-pop wasn’t a viable export. Only Alphaville broke out in the ’80s with Big in Japan and Forever Young. “This is why techno is so important for us – and for the German music scene,” Arno says.
The old friends from Saarbrucken, on the German/French border, were drawn into the rave underground in the early ’90s, clubbing at Sven Väth’s Omen in their then Frankfurt base.
The pair not only dabbled in trance (the first Booka Shade track, the proggy Kind of Good, materialised in 1995), but also moonlighted as Euro-pop producers. They actually worked with Culture Beat. As the decade closed, it was time for another rethink. They were bored.
Kammermeier and Merziger relocated to Berlin, where they developed their own stable, Get Physical, with M.A.N.D.Y.’s Patrick Bodmer and Philipp Jung plus DJ T.
After Memento, Booka Shade won yet more fans with 2006’s Movements, home to the classic In White Rooms.
Will.i.am, of all people, sampled Body Language, their collaboration with M.A.N.D.Y.
This year Booka Shade presented a third album, The Sun & The Neon Light, led by Charlotte.
They began exploring a fresh direction with 2007’s Numbers, the single from their DJ Kicks compilation, a comp that, Arno reveals, sold well in Australia.
On The Sun there are vocals. Booka Shade even hired an orchestra. In fact, they are returning to Planet Claire’s pop sensibilities – and moving beyond the confines of club music.
“It’s funny, in a way. If you listen to the very first Planet Claire album and the new album, there is a similarity. It’s come full circle – that’s true.”
Nevertheless, Booka Shade are ultimately “more cinematic”. Arno hopes that The Sun demonstrates their potential as film scorers. “The main thing that we wanted to achieve was to not do a Movements 2. [Movements] was very dancefloor-oriented – it featured five major international club hits – but we didn’t want to do the same thing again. We were looking for something new to challenge us, because we get bored easily. We always look for new ways to express electronic music. We wanted an album that you could listen to at home. And we wanted to experiment with more song structures – that’s why you have a lot of almost pop tunes on the album.”
WHO: Booka Shade
WHAT: Plays Stereosonic at The Enmore Theatre
WHEN: Saturday 22 November