Booka Shade on the difference between DJs and producers
Arno Kammermeier and Walter Merziger are the two Germans behind Booka Shade (which plays Beta on June 21). The group, in its latest iteration (it played briefly in the '90s as well), has developed a sort of cult following in the American EDM market. Its sound is different from much of the mainstream artists currently in the scene, but that hasn't stopped Booka Shade from finding success in the dance world.
In 2012, Booka Shade released "Honeyslave" on party DJ Steve Aoki's DIMMAK record label. "We did do something with Steve Aoki...people wondered how we did it, but the fact was he is a longtime fan and wanted to work with us," says Kammermeir. "But we can never do the sound like he does. We do the Booka Shade sound."
When we spoke with him, he was busy preparing for Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas, fine-tuning the visual production, as well as the live music side of the show, for what he refers to as the "American EDM scene."
"We are tuning the production and arrangement for this purpose so everything fits for the EDM scene in America," he says. "Because I believe, at the moment, everything has to be spot on."
The duo spends plenty of time adapting to its audience, whether its European festivals or stateside for club runs. "Take Coachella last year when we headlined: There, you could bring out the musical stuff and play longer -- the groovy stuff," says Kammermeier.
Booka Shade's music lies in the purgatorial down-tempo land of EDM, so the duo must adapt for the high-energy EDC crowd. "With EDC, I guess you have to bring your songs in the best possible way for this crowd. That's good for us to do, as we are a live band with certain arrangements. So we can bring energy in and out to let the people come and get into the music."
Booka Shade's latest release, Eve, doesn't stray far from the sound that the group's fan-base has come expect. The three years Kammermeier and Merziger spent on it, though, allowed them to jump into many genres and pick out specific styles to incorporate into their music. "Leema" is more industrial, whereas "Crossing Borders" has the vocals of Fritz Kalkbrenner layered over a simple melody. The crisp production, which has always been the most important factor attributing to the success of the two musicians, remains.