Booka Shade

Being one of my first live electronic shows, Booka Shade heavily influenced my musical tastes from the night I saw them. The cool thing about this Berlin-based duo is the emphasis on their keys and drums, which anyone seeing them perform will notice. In a pre-show interview for their November 7 Bijou Boston show, Arno talks about their setup, Berlin, loving their craft, and traveling.

I remember the first time I saw you perform, and something I’ve always remembered was how happy you seemed up on stage. At what point in time did you realize you’d be doing this for real?
■ From a very early age on, perhaps 12-14, we both individually had the dream to be a musician and perform our music on a stage to people. We have a long career as producers, but in fact it wan’t until 2004 that we really started touring with Booka Shade on a worldwide scale. Does it get boring to perform our songs night after night? Absolutely not, we love our music and are very proud of it. It’s a privilege to give an audience the best possible time. Apart from that, we constantly rework our older songs to keep it interesting for us. Traveling and waiting can be exhausting, but being on stage is always the highlight of the day, and especially touring in the US is much fun.

You’re from Germany. Are there any notable changes you’ve noticed in Berlin over the past 10-15 years?
■ Berlin has obviously drastically changed in the last 20 years. It has always been a center of art and culture — think of the Roaring Twenties — and more and more artists move to the city because it’s very liberal and still relatively cheap. Club culture in Berlin is huge, the 24/7 party possibilities are very appealing.

Tonight’s performance at Bijou is a live set — what does that entail? How often do you play DJ sets? 
■ We’ve always been a live act. ‘The Keys & The Drums‘ are our thing. There were only a couple of years between approximately 2010-2015 were we DJ’ed, but we realized that the live performance is what we’re best at; we just love to play with our instruments. When we play longer sets, like at Bijou, there is a segment in the show where we DJ though.

Is it difficult to transport your gear?
■ The setup varies for club shows and big festivals. At the moment, we play a very handy condensed live setup which is designed especially for club shows. In the last 12 months, our music has gone very much ‘back to the club,’ and we wanted the setup to represent this and give us the opportunity to play nightclubs as well as festival stages. Still it gives us full flexibility to use our keys and drums

How do you decide which tracks to remix? Which remixes of other artists’ tracks are you most proud of?
■ We have’t done many remixes lately I have to say, because due to the touring and our private lives, our production time is limited and we’d rather focus on original Booka Shade material. We’re proud of the remixes we did for Depeche Mode and Dave Gahan, simply because we are huge fans.

Jumping away from music for a second — you guys travel all over. If you could vacation in any of the places you’ve performed, to where would you return and why? Which places have the best food?
■ Best food, Chile and Italy. Our planet is so beautiful, I can’t count the times that we’ve been somewhere amazing and I told my family that we have to return there for a vacation. What’s coming up definitely in 2019 is a couple of weeks in the US, for instance, to do the classic west coast roundtrip. I did it when I was 15 and I need to show this to my wife and son.  This time in Boston we’ll have enough time to walk the Freedom Trail; I’m interested in learning more about the history of the city which is so important for the development of the USA.

Have you had any scary travel experiences you can tell a story about?
■ Considering the amount of time we spend in the air, it’s kind of a wonder that we never experienced highly dramatic moments — luckily — but rather health problems. I remember laying half unconscious backstage in San Francisco because of an eye infection, and both Walter and I had occasional certain problems especially in India. That’s why we don’t want to go there anymore, but it’s all nothing compared to the positive moments on tour we are so grateful for.

What should we look out for in 2019?
■ We’ll continue to release new music regularly. There are tours in Australia and Asia lined up, and we certainly will be back in the States more than once in 2019. But first, see you at the show at Bijou.  We’ll have our keyboards and drums waiting for you!