Walter Merziger and Arno Kammermeier came together at a young age and connected over their love for music. Although they tried their hand as a synth-pop band in their early years, we’ve come to know the German duo as Booka Shade, the electronic/techno producers that have steadily risen to fame since their first record deal as Booka Shade in 1992.

Berlin-based duo Booka Shade (Walter Merziger and Arno Kammermeier) have carved out a reputation as one of the most celebrated electronic acts to come out of Europe over the past two decades.

Twenty years, dozens of EPs and six albums later, Booka Shade have become more than a household name, they have become synonymous with the spirit which drives electronic music and have set a precedent to which electronic music is still held to today.

Booka Shade are performing at Concord Music Hall in Chicago on Thursday, December 1, 2016 at 7:00 PM. Photos: Ryan Dinham @ryandinhamphoto

So your North American tour is coming up! Tell us a little bit about your upcoming tour and what updates you made in relation to the Movements album from 10 years ago.

“Movements 10” celebrates the anniversary of the album that started our career. The re-release not only features a remastered version of the original album, but also ten fantastic remixes. The premiere of the live show was at Sonar in Barcelona, after that we presented M10 at festivals around Europe and at two exclusive sold out headline events in Berlin and London at the Royal Festival Hall. After the North America tour, we’ll travel to Australia for more shows. In early January, the chapter will be closed and we can look into the future – there will be a lot of changes in 2017. 

It’s nice to see artists that achieved success for as long as you both have and still going strong today, I know it’s not always easy! What do you think you’ve done that has given you such longevity and how much did you have to adapt to?

We always worked hard for our ideas, be it for the albums or for the show. Our aim is to present the best possible show we can. Ever since we first came to the US in 2006, we felt we always were the live alternative in electronic music. We played Lollapalooza as one of the first electronic acts, which was fantastic experience. When EDM took over for a while, we also were “the act that is different.” We like this exceptional standing. Right now we feel like we’re in a “post-EDM” time, let’s see where it takes us!

booka-shade-live

With all the technology that there is today, do you still champion people to learn an instrument? Do you think it will still be necessary say 20 years from now?

It´s very easy today to produce music that sounds good, there are sound sets and style banks that you can buy for any style you like, and all you have to do is combine them a little bit differently. Many DJs are very successful with this method, but is it special? It is hard work to learn an instrument and to master it, and it gives a lot of satisfaction to actually physically create the sound of an acoustic instrument. We consider ourselves musicians in the true sense, we play instruments on stage, we don’t just push a play button. Is it necessary in the future? Maybe not, but what’s important is an artistic approach in order to create something new, and not combine preset sounds.

One thing I’ve always wanted to ask… Can you explain the genesis of your artist name?

Haha, we haven’t been asked this for quite a while! Well, it’s a made up name. We can’t really remember where it came from, because we first used it in the mid-’90s, but we believe it was inspired from the organ player Booker T. The word “shade,” as in “shadow,” also has a nice moody connotation. 

What can we expect from this upcoming show in Chicago? I saw the preview video and the visuals looked amazing!

In the live show we of course mainly focus on the songs from MOVEMENTS and present them in totally new 2016 arrangements. The visuals are inspired by the original album artwork, we brought in a visual designer who has worked for the likes of The Chemical Brothers in the past.