Submitted by Clubsguide on October 10th 2007
The studio partnership of producers, remixers and live act Booka Shade aka Walter Merziger and Arno Kammermeier has come a very long way since its incarnation in the early 90s. Back then, Arno and Walter were a synth pop act signed to a major label. They released two albums and did a number of tours, but at the same time they were being seduced by the emerging trance and techno sounds they heard in Frankfurt clubs like The Omen.
Subsequently, Arno and Walter changed their focus to club projects and released trance records on R&S, Tommy Boy and Sven Vath’s Harthouse imprint. However, it was on Dutch label that Booka Shade scored their biggest releases with the progressive ´Kind of good´ and ´Silk´.
By the end of the 90s, Booka Shade had tired of the trance-techno scene and again needed a new direction to focus on. At this stage, they decided to found their own label. By chance, they met with Thomas Koch, aka DJ T, one of Germany’s most experienced DJs. Arno and Walter’s old friends Patrick Bodmer and Philipp Jung, aka M.A.N.D.Y., whom they knew from the 90s in Frankfurt’s club scene, completed the new partnership.
By 2002, the Get Physical label was launched, with Booka Shade responsible for all of the productions and remixes by M.A.N.D.Y., DJ T., Sunsetpeople and Chelonis R. Jones. In just a few years, the label won supporters from a wide spectrum of DJs because its releases covered a broad brush stroke of electronic styles, including trance, electro and techno, within its club-friendly grooves.
In 2004, with Get Physical established as one of Europe’s most respected new electronic music labels, Booka Shade decided to step from the shadows and pursue their own solo career again.
Get Physical was home to Booka Shade’s widely acclaimed and admired 2005 debut album ‘Memento’, which saw Walter and Arno use the experience that they had gained working in the pop and trance spheres during the 90s to stunning effect. Slivers of pop melody and shiny trance euphoria are underpinned with twitchy, stripped bare beats. The end result was an ultra-modern, occasionally menacing and evocative but always rewarding work.
The label was also the outlet for their huge 2005 club hit, ‘Mandarine Girl’ and ‘Body Language’ - both firm favourites in their live show - with the latter track, a collaboration with M.A.N.D.Y, winning the DJ award ‘Ibiza Track of the Season 2005’ and gaining support from big league DJs as well as underground house and techno names.
Last year also saw Booka Shade hit the road, and their rocking live show earned them a reputation as one of Europe’s most exciting live electronic music acts. This status was confirmed by their electric performance at the 2005 Sónar festival in Barcelona, and dates supporting Royksopp on tour and Mylo in London.
They also remixed Moby (Mute), The Juan McLean (DFA) and Yello’s electro pop classic ‘Oh Yeah’. The culmination of a fantastic year was the honour of Get Physical being voted as ‘label of the year’ in DJ Magazine.
However, Booka Shade didn’t rest on their laurels: in between gigs to promote ‘Memento’, the duo worked on material for the 2006 follow up album, ‘Movements’. Released in April, it maintained Arno and Walter’s love of soaring basslines, epic melodies and club-friendly arrangements, but it also showed that they were not afraid to experiment with other styles, like slow motion hip-hop, electro and chilled Balearic house music.
‘Movements’ is a more varied and possibly more mature work than ‘Memento’, but the two singles to date from the album, ‘Night Falls’ and ‘In White Rooms’, show that Booka Shade still know how to write emotive, powerful dance tracks. It’s not just club DJs who have picked on their material: Booka Shade’s music features regularly in the top 5 genre charts on iTunes all over the world.
Since the album’s release, Walter and Arno have been touring continuously around Europe - most recently, they had the somewhat nerve-wrecking pleasure of doing the warm up slot for synthpop legends Depeche Mode on the Berlin date of their world tour – with performances at festival and club goers alike won over by their powerful live act, including the audience at the Montreux Jazz Festival.
Arno and Walter are now getting ready for their second US tour, having already visited the States in March to promote ‘Movements’. They are also embarking on a tour of Asia and Australia tour in early 2007. Now that all of Europe has heard this unique electronic act, it’s the time for the rest of the world to hear the Booka Shade magic.
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