Wednesday, April 17 2013

Wednesday, April 17th at Showbox at the Market

Decibel & Showbox present, the Seattle premier of…

Kammermeier & Merziger Records / Get Physical, Berlin

with special guest

Glassnote Records, Los Angeles

$25 adv. tickets available at

Doors at 7:30pm / all-ages

Showbox at the Market
1426 1st Ave

Even by Booka Shade’s unusually frenetic standards, the past 12 months have been intense. Since the release of their fourth album, ‘More!’, the Berlin-based duo, Arno Kammermeier and Walter Merziger, have been touring almost non-stop. And loving every minute of it.

Personal highlights, such as performing live on BBC Radio 1, to help celebrate legendary radio DJ Annie Nightingale’s 40th broadcasting anniversary, or rocking Europe’s foremost electronic music event, Sonar, capped a whirlwind year which included tours of Australia, Brazil, the UK and the US (including a show at Colorado’s iconic Red Rocks amphitheatre).

One of those rare electronic music acts who channel the spirit and sounds of underground techno, but who can rock any festival crowd, Booka Shade, increasingly, find themselves winning over new fans across the rock and dance music tribes. Late last year, for instance, as they prepared for a winter tour of Australia – with the mixed rock ‘n’ dance festival, Big Day Out – Booka Shade were voted one of the world’s Top 5 live acts by the cutting-edge electronic music hub, Resident Advisor. That perfectly illustrates how, in 2011, they transcend borders and genres.

In a way, that broad appeal is no surprise. Yes, Booka Shade make dance music, but it is dance music which audibly absorbs influences from everywhere: classical, rock, jazz, dubstep. Throughout their 25 years making music together, Arno and Walter have found it impossible to restrict themselves to one set sound or scene.

Early on, back in their native Saarbruecken, they made electronic-pop, as Planet Claire, later – having been seduced by Frankfurt’s then vibrant club scene – they released numerous underground dance tracks, including the huge crossover hit, ‘Una Musica Senza Ritmo’, as Degeneration.

By the mid 1990s, bored with formulaic club music, they decided to start working as movie soundtrack composers and (rather bizarrely) producers-for-hire, writing pop hits for German major labels. That turned out to be a rather depressing period, musically. One they would sooner forget.

Indeed, it wasn’t until 2002, when Booka Shade moved to Berlin and formed the label/ production house, Get Physical Music – with M.A.N.D.Y and the then Groove Magazine editor, Thomas ‘DJ T’ Koch – that Arno and Walter finally felt that they had total musical freedom. It was a creative rebirth. “Before,” says Arno, of their time as pop producers, “we didn’t give a shit. Now, every note counts.”

The story since then is one that many of you will know. Under Booka Shade´s production aegis, Get Physical became one of modern Berlin’s key dance music labels, while, on their own artist albums, ‘Memento‘, ‘Movements’, ‘The Sun & The Neon Light‘ and most recently ‘More!’. They also became highly sought after remixers, lending their production magic to respected artists such as; Depeche Mode, Moby, Yello, Hot Chip, Roxy Music, Kings Of Leon, Tiga, Dave Gahan and The Knife. Booka Shade had developed a uniquely melodic and emotionally rich brand of contemporary techno. This was club music, but club music built to last.

“This sounds basic, but it’s all about expressing how you feel, your personality,” says Arno. “Anybody can produce a nice, functional club track, but to produce something personal – music that is the essence of who you are – that is much more difficult. And it gets more difficult the further we go with Booka Shade.”

Walter, the production brains of the outfit, nods: “We’ve produced thousands of tracks together. By now, we have an almost psychic musical connection. But we’re still constantly interrogating what we do. Is it fresh? Is it different? When you stop questioning your work, it’s time to give up.”

It was this constant questioning, which, with ‘More!’, led Booka Shade to rethink their approach. In contrast to previous albums, it was built from the dance floor up. Every track, from the pixelated ear-worm, ‘Donut’, to that ethereal rave anthem, ‘Regeneration’ (which reached No.2 in the Beatport chart), started out as a killer club groove which Arno and Walter then worked around. It received reams of positive press and an iTunes Top 20 chart placing, but, finally, it is time to draw that era to a close. Fourth single, ’Scaramanga’, released in May 2011, will be the last salvo from the ‘More!’ sessions.

It’s a fresh start for Booka Shade in other areas, too. After almost 10 years, Arno, Walter and DJ T recently handed over control of Get Physical to their co-founders Philipp Jung and Patrick Bodmer (aka M.A.N.D.Y)and Peter Hayo. Rest assured: there was no drama. No falling out. And Arno and Walter are still making music with M.A.N.D.Y (check the new DJ-mix ‘Body Language Vol.10’ for a preview of their latest collaboration, ‘Home’).

Elsewhere, look out for fresh dates in Asia, Europe and the US, and, of course, a host of Booka Shade festival appearances through summer 2011.

Robert DeLong is the perfect artist to bring electronic dance music to Glassnote, home of Mumford & Sons, Two Door Cinema Club, Phoenix and more. A one-man futuristic dance party with beats as cerebral as Orbital and club-ready as Calvin Harris, DeLong is also a profoundly gifted singer/songwriter who raises questions about identity and spirituality. Those two elements join together on his debut album Just Movement, a dazzling collection of dance beats, pop hooks and thought-provoking queries that could very well be the soundtrack for 2013.

“The whole album is sort of a thesis statement for my philosophy,” the 26-year-old Los Angeleno via Seattle who wrote, produced, mixed and performed the entire album himself, says. What is that philosophy? “The first song [‘Just Movement’] is the most basic kind of thesis statement. For me, when you strip away all the human moral elements of a person you’re left with the fact everything is just moving, the whole universe is vibrating different ways, moving around,” he says. “Then the rest of the album is trying to figure out what to do with that and it’s kind of a play on words too. ‘Just Movement’ is not only about the philosophical idea, but also ‘Just Movement,’ the idea of dance, that’s kind of the primal response to music.”

On the album’s second track, “Global Concepts,” a song that immediately shot to number one most requested at Albany’s WEXQ, DeLong asks, “Did I leave my life to chance? Or did I make you fucking dance?”

The answer is unquestionably the latter, proven here repeatedly, whether it’s on the fast-paced funk of “Here,” the disco-flavor of “Perfect” or the aptly named “Happy ” — another instant radio favorite, landing in the top five most requested songs on the Locals Only show of influential L.A. radio station KROQ.

That DeLong brings people to their feet is especially true live, where his unique stage setup ratchets up the energy to a level befitting productions the size of Electric Daisy Carnival or Coachella’s Sahara Tent. A true one-man band who sings, plays a full drum set and controls his loops via video game controls like Wii-motes, joysticks and game controllers, DeLong creates a spectacle that is wholly his own.

Adding to the vibe, every show features face painting for audience members, creating a communal experience. DeLong has already dubbed his growing fanbase The Tribe of the Orphans, an apt name for the visual extravaganza the audience provides for every show with their Neverland imagery. While the face painting, usually done by DeLong’s girlfriend, enhances the bond between DeLong and his Tribe, the standout visual at the gigs is his one-of-a-kind equipment.

“That really just came out of playing in bands for so long and going to shows and being bored it’s just standing around, watching a band,” he says of the genesis of the setup. “The live show developed in a way out of necessity. It started out with me playing a couple of coffee shops in high school doing some live looping and combining it with tracks and stuff and then over time seeing what people responded to.”

A drummer from the age of 10 who started off in jazz, Robert DeLong understood his background was the crux of the dance music he’d come to love at house music parties in L.A. “I realized I’m making dance music and drums are kind of the lead instrument in dance music. So I really wanted to incorporate that,” he says. “From there [with] the Wii-mote it was just trying to find a way that was most interesting to use it. It’s funny because I sort of performed these songs before I finalized the recordings on the songs. On a lot of these songs, things like the Wii-mote ended up as an element on the album.”

When DeLong brings his music to the stage there is no gimmickry or flashiness, every instrument serves the purpose of the song and becomes an essential component to making the song flow. For him it was important that the video game components not become a stunt. “In the end it’s still about the song,” he says. “I’ve seen a lot of artists where, especially with live looping or beat making, that stuff just ends up being these guys figuring out cool things they can do, but there’s no song for anyone to attach themselves to.”

There’s no concern for DeLong about not having the songs to accompany his music. He started off as a singer/songwriter playing in bands. The electronic dance element came later, after moving from Seattle to L.A. but he made sure to keep both. How many other artists claim Sgt. Pepper’s and Board Of Canada’s Music Has The Right To Children as two of the defining works in their upbringing? Probably not many, but that mix is what makes DeLong special and has already allowed him to build a diverse following.

“I would hear from people, especially my age, they identify with the lyric and the songwriter aspect. And younger people identify with the whole dance vibe,” he says. “That’s something I’ve always strived for, to make the message easily communicable to people, but then people can still have a good time and enjoy the party.”