The official kick-off for summer, Memorial Day weekend also represents the opening…
- Posted on Oct 29th 2010 5:30PM by Jesse Ship
Get Physical Records
A recent Montreal show saw local musician and Booka Shade collaborator Elsieanne Caplette sing verses from 'Regenerate' (off their new album, 'More!'), while Arno Kammermeier slammed away on his expansive digital drum kit and partner Walter Merziger hammer out his parts on the keys and synths.
"We've never performed with someone else before, but it turned out great. It's good to know that we can do this sort of thing and act more like a band," Kammermeier, the duo's more public face, tells Spinner. Given his reaction, it seems as if the two treat the stage as intimately as their production studio.
The studio experience, itself, is rather remarkable for the pair now that they've reached a point in their collaborative careers where they don't even need to speak to each other to communicate what sort of changes need to be made when working on a track. Merziger occupies most of his time building the melodies, while Kammermeier takes care of the business end of the stick, negotiating distribution deals, coordinating with managers and chatting with the press.
"Sometimes we're both in the studio," says Kammermeir, "because this is how we started, working day in, day out at the mixing desk. But over the course of the years, we've realized that there are other things for me to do that are just as important."
As an electronic group, technology plays a key part in their song-building, however, Booka Shade still finds pleasure utilizing, shall we say, less than cutting-edge equipment.
"Dodgy $5 shareware synthesizers -- they are very attractive to us," says Kammermeier. "A lot of the sounds on the 'Movements' album came from cheap polyphonic synths; I find them a lot of fun to work with."
Cheap thrills aside, the two create complex and sophisticated layers of atmosphere to arrive at their signature Booka Shade sound.
"Much of our recent sounds have been created from scratch, we don't use presets. We dive into these universes of sound, and create [our] own universes, especially with our soundtrack-oriented tunes."
Unlike traditional rock bands, they don't follow the typical formula of recording an album, touring an album, and then retreating back into the studio once again to record. "We are constantly touring and constantly producing," says Kammermeier. "Walter goes to his hotel room to set up our laptop studio and software, which makes it very easy and comfortable ... to work with on the road."
Much of 'More!' has a certain seriousness to it, but that doesn't mean that there's not an element of fun and humour thrown in. The latest single, 'Teenage Spaceman,' has an epic club sound but got its title after the 13-year-old son of one of their managers decided to record close to two hours of random speech where he talked about spacemen and outer space.
Another track, 'Havana Sex Dwarf,' was at first simply called 'Dwarf' because it reminded Merziger of a melody from 'Snow White.'
"I thought the name was a bit boring," glosses Kammermeier in his German drawl, "so we needed something more edgy. There was the Soft Cell song called 'Sex Dwarf,' which can't get more interesting, but we had to give it something new so we added 'Havana.' However, I assure you, nothing strange has ever happened to us there."