Booka Shade Interviewed
We were saving this interview till we got a bit closer to Identity Festival in Miami but since it’s been cancelled once again there’s no sense in waiting.
Booka Shade is by far one of my top favorite mainstreamish electronic acts. I would buy tickets to whatever type of festival just to see them play. I’ve been a fan for years and got to see them perform at Ultra a few years back… really damn good and never cheesy. They always seem to engage their audience with their on-stage energy and musicianship. Their tracks have always been pristine, tight, and timeless ever since I can remember, even their 2004 release “Memento” doesn’t get old. They’ve also been very creative about their collaborations and remixes (i.e. M.A.N.D.Y, Plastic Operator, The Knife, Brigitte Bardot, etc…), all have been nothing but gems.
We’re very pleased and proud to have been approached with an interview request and we’re happy to be able to share their thoughts with you guys.
You guys have been doing this for a while and dance music has become more accepted & listened to by the mainstream than it used to be. What challenges would you imagine exist for an upcoming electronic artist nowadays compared to when you guys started out?
There’s this trend again where sounds from the underground are blown up commercially to reach big audiences. The states are extreme again: everything is commercial dance. and the kids love their dubstep. That’s all fine with us, we always feel that we happen somewhere outside, we’re always the alternative. We have survived a couple of trends already and i’m confident we’ll survive some more in the future. Our fans realize that we´re all about musical quality and longevity, our songs have many layers of emotions, there´s a lot to discover. And our live show is fun to watch; we work hard on stage and sweat for the sound. Our advice for upcoming artists? Be different, and if you decided you want to swim with sharks, swim against the stream.
Do you think there was a particular “big break” moment? How did it affect your career following that point?
It’s normally never a ‘moment,’ but a certain time span where things just come together. The time starting with the summer of 2005 and leading to the album ‘movements’ in spring 2006 for sure was important for us. ‘Mandarine girl’ and especially ‘Body Language’ had just come out in spring and worked their way into the record bags of DJs, and ‘Body Language’ was massively played in Ibiza during the summer (we later received an award for “Ibiza track of the season 2005”). but the song wasn’t a sure shot and an instant hit. it took almost a year to fully reach out to big audiences. The same summer we played our debut at sónar festival in Barcelona; a show many people still rave about even today. From there on, we toured almost constantly until today (the ‘movements’ tour for example over 150 shows), and the hard work shows successful results.
For the US, important shows were WMC, DEMF, Lollapalooza and — most important, playing Red Rocks in 2010 together with the Disco Biscuits. It seems the audience of Disco Biscuits very much understand what we say with our music, we had huge response to that show.
Is there any particular artist (musical, visual, or literary) that you hear in your own music, or that particularly influenced the sounds that you make?
We both come from musically interested families, so a wide spectrum of music was brought to us early on. Walter’s family is into classical music, my father used to play in a jazz band when he was a student. When we were kids, the new wave of the early 80’s was a big influence – New Order, Depeche Mode, the Cure. The early 90´s techno & house inspired us to start our own projects recently, Walter was very hyped with what Gorillaz do.
As we are Miami based, we can only ask – If you had one extra day in Miami, how would you spend it?
First of all let me say that we were very disappointed to hear that the IDentity show had to be cancelled, but of course it’s always ‘safety first’, and when we watched CNN reports about hurricane Irene, we understood ….
a day off, hm — I guess spending the day at the beach should be nice.
I remember years ago we once had a day off and somebody thought it would be a great idea to drive down to the keys. All on one day !! we had hardly left the city when we realized the distance was way too long….
Seems like in Miami anytime a DJ blanks out on what to play next they can always resort to a good’ol booty house song and everyone loves it. Do you have a default ‘safety track’ that you play when DJ’ing, & which of your own tracks is your sure-fire crowd pleaser?
As Walter and I usually play live as a band, we only play our own songs anyway. when we DJ, which we just started two years ago, we’re still somehow seen as “a band DJing”, and the audience waits for us to drop our own tunes. We produce special DJ versions of the songs for our DJ sets. We had a “Blue Monday vs Body Language” mash up that was cool, and also the “Night Falls vs Won’t Back Down (Tom Petty)” version is a bomb.
Finally, what’s the latest with Get Physical? Anything that the label is particularly excited about?
As you may have heard, we are no longer owners of the label. the M.A.N.D.Y. guys continue, but for us the most exciting times were when we actually set the label up and produced most of the music for it. Now it’s time to move on. We’re still friends though and it seems like we’ll have a new M.A.N.D.Y. vs Booka Shade single out on GPM in the near future.
Our focus is to finish a new Booka Shade album for 2012 and to come back to the States with an even bigger tour. The current tour is such a success for us, we make many new friends.
And next time, no hurricane will keep us away from Miami!