Monday, 10 May 2010

I'm back with a Booka Shade Interview, Louie Vega & Fabio Genito Sets....

Ahead of the release of their fifth full length album next week, we speak to foremost electronic live act Booka Shade about the making of ‘More,’ their impressive live show and why they started DJing again.

After the huge crossover success of their minimal club hit ‘Body Language’ everyone from your mum to your indie loving mate knew who Book Shade were. Then came albums Movement and The Sun and The Neon Light which transformed the German duo into a festival headlining live act, and they haven’t looked back since.

Well, they have, and have since taken up DJing again – read on for details – but their new album ‘More’ is once again made for the live arena; made for those big summer events under the sun. This time, though, it’s a rougher and more direct affair which joins the dots between their previous output. Ahead of their gig at Koko on May 13th, Booka Shade play at Koko on the 13th May (just £16.50 from we spoke to Arno to find out more…

Where are you and what are you doing at the moment?

I'm in the studio doing preparations for the first live show – we’ve had a holiday before we present the new album in all the major cities London, Dublin and so on.

At the moment we’re at the beginning of the tour - we just played Australia. Obviously at this stage, when you have a lot of new songs from a new album, you need to add or take away tracks until they fit - we just added one today to the playlist which wasn’t in before. There’s always tweaking to do basically, we always make some changes here and there throughout the whole tour.

So how much was the new album, More, made with the live shows in mind?

We wanted a lot of new songs we could play at the live shows. Many people know us for these energetic Booka Shade live shows so we wanted to know that when our fans put our album on before or after coming to see us in concert, it would sound the same as the live show.

Also it was real fun for us to bring this energy back. Our last album ‘The Sun and The Neon Light’ was more home listening and was moodier, slower darker - at that time that was important to us - we wanted slower tracks in the shows back then that’s why we had a real orchestra involved at some points.

This new album ‘More’ is rougher. There are songs on there that are really really rough, especially the first track ‘Havana Sex Dwarf’ - it’s the most forward-going track we’ve ever done.

Listening back to the first three albums they always had a similar set up: you have this more epic song writing which took you into the album – it was ‘Vertigo’ on Memento, then ‘Night Falls’ on Movement and ‘Outskirts’ on The Sun and The Neon Light - and, similarly, we always had a certain way to end the album.

With this one we wanted to show people from the first second onwards that it’s more about energy than big emotions – you have a track like ‘Havana Sex Dwarf’ and it’s straight in your face from the off.

So what inspired that shift in styles?

What inspired it and helped the production a lot was actually the DJing we did last year. We stopped doing the live shows at the end of festival summer because before that we’d toured constantly for the last 4 years or so with each album – 150 shows for Movement – so it was one constant touring period so we wanted a break from this.

Still, we didn’t just want to sit in the studio and work on the songs, we wanted to know what was going on in the clubs at that moment so the DJing was great for that – we could take the productions we did in the week and try them out with other tunes at weekends so that was very helpful.

So will you keep up the DJing?

Well for us the DJing will always be the real thing – we’re live musicians, we want to stand on the stage and present our own songs. But we’ll do a couple of DJ shows in Space in Ibiza cos that’s perfect for DJing, and we’ll probably do a few more in some summer locations but most of the year will be dominated by the live show.

With all that going on, then, how do you fit label stuff in?!

We’ve been not so much involved in the label- in the beginning when we all set up the label together we did the production together on the first dozen or fifteen releases now MANDY do A&R and we mainly get involved when we release and album.

OK back to the live show – can you tell us about the production and Booka Shade balls?

We took the whole production to Aus with the big light balls but for club shows we have a UK based crew as we need a special, smaller light show to take around – the lights are an important part of it.

You mention there both big festivals and smaller club shows - how much tailor sets for each audience?

We really don’t change the show round much – if it’s a big 20/30, 000 people show or a smaller 1500 people club, it’s bizarre that people except the fact we don’t have these huge techno bass drums as you’d expect for a big festival – instead we have the sexy beats and really we build grooves not big huge kick drops but people accept that and like the sounds so we don’t tailor the sets that much.

And what kit do you use?

We use Ableton live for backing tracks; Walter plays a Moog Synth Voyager which is nice as we can make fuller sounds with this big equipment. He also uses a mixing desk, KAOS pad, laptop and musically cues sequencers. For each song we have 10/12 individual parts for the melodies, the bass and stuff, all separated out ready to cue up.

On my side I have electronic drums but these are only for the triggers – I customise bespoke sounds with a laptop running Logic and a drum sampler called ‘Battery’ plus I have a lot or real cymbals I use.

We have a set list like and band – we don’t go on stage and jam. I believe the music of Booka Shade is designed in a way which we like with big breakdowns at the right point, melodies starting at specific points. But within the set list we can add or subtract, tease the people using all our triggers -we do as much as we can with our 4 hands to make it sound live.

There’s a lot to go wrong so if it does you really hear it – I think that’s the nice thing about the live show – people appreciate the roughness and realise when we hit a wrong note we are actually on stage, doing it live, working hard!

So do you use old as well as new tracks in the show?

We will present the new LP of course, we’re happy to have a lot of news songs in the set list but of course we have special versions of ‘Mandarin Girl’ and ‘Body Language’ which are always nice moments in the set. Were happy with these songs and happy to present them again in different ways.

Final question - what’s your World Cup prediction?

I can with a good heart say I don’t know anything about football. I was at a dinner the other night and someone mentioned a name and I asked who it was and everyone looked at me funny saying – that’s the coach of the national team! I didn’t know don’t ask me about football – that’s not for us, we’re happy just being musicians!

Dj-sets/Mixes by FabioGenito

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