In the last few years, Booka Shade’s Walter Merziger and Arno Kammermeier haven’t played a ton of live shows—but that’s about to change this weekend as they bring their Blackout: White Noise Tour to London’s Neon Noise Project this Saturday, March 9, and take the stage with all their gear alongside Lindstrom, Marc Romboy, Russ Yallop, Foamo, Fort Romeau, and Warm DJs. But what’s more is that they’ve also got the Blackout: White Noise EP out a week after that. We chatted with Kammermeier about what’s changed with their productions over the years and what to expect from the new live gigs.
How is the new music shaping up, and how have you approach this differently from your previous work?
After the tour for our previous album, More!, we took some time off; Walter built a house and a studio, but we’ve been working on songs for pretty much the last three years. I can tell you, it doesn´t get any easier on the fifth album! We are very proud of the fact that Booka Shade have a certain trademark sound. Even though our music is very diverse and we don´t have a singer, it´s likely that you will recognize it´s us, so finding new ways of expression without losing identity was a challenge. We wanted to get away from the usual “laptop studio production,” and looked for more richness and depth in the sound. We went to a studio outside of Manchester, called Eve, and recorded loads of instruments live. Also, we used a lot of analog and antique outboard equipment, a wide range from vintage compressors and EQs to analog spring reverbs (a unit so big it´s positioned outside in the car park) to obscure Asian toys. Reamping instruments through amplifiers or through recoding rooms was heavily used. The result sounds much more organic than we ever sounded—a real leap forward.
Are there any specific release details you can actually share with Beatport News?
The new EP is called Blackout: White Noise, and will be released on March 18th. It´s a quite clubby EP. We teamed up with Chelonis R. Jones for vocals, a longtime collaborator. He´s been around since our first album, Memento, and we produced his releases on Get Physical, like “I Don´t Know.” At the moment it looks like there will be one more EP before the album comes out in July.
“Haleshop” is available for free through your own website and a limited white label 12”. As you’ve developed as artists, you’ve consistently changed the methods of distributing your music to your audience. What was the thinking behind this new record?
We felt that a free download would be a nice “sign of life” after such a long time away. Also, there will be a Booka Shade remix coming out shortly, for the French singer Woodkid.
Your live act is now prestigiously known amongst the scene as being one of the best and most energetic. Over the past 12 months, how have you changed your approach to it, and have there been any specific changes to the setup that you can share with us?
We didn´t play a lot of live shows in the last two years, really, apart from the Sónar, Brixton Academy, Monegros, or Lovebox Festival shows and a five-week US tour in 2011. So, it´s really time to bring the live show back to Europe. For the new shows, we´ll bring in even more live elements; we´ll have more options to work with the music, and there will be more things to hit on. Visually, we have worked on some interesting ways to show the audience in detail what happens on stage.
And finally, what were your live highlights from the past 12 months, and what are you looking forward to in 2013?
Playing a show at Brixton Academy certainly was a highlight last year, and we´ll return there in June. Starting off the year in Europe, we´ll play a small number of club shows in early March, like Zurich, Frankfurt, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, and London, just to get a feel for the live stage again. Then it will be Ultra Festival Miami with some east coast club shows in March (including Irving Plaza in New York) and Coachella on the west coast in April, which will smoothly lead us into the festival summer.