With their 2001 release Satta, Nuremberg's Boozoo Bajou reacquainted underground music lovers with the slow sultry sounds of bass-heavy dub. Their latest offering, Dust My Broom, proves that location, location, location isn't always the only thing that matters. Superb Jamaican-style blues and country-influenced music can come from all parts of the world-- even Nuremberg, Germany.
Emmerald: How did you all get started working as Boozoo Bajou?
Boozoo Bajou: We met through a friend we both knew. We worked on three or so studio sessions, just to see if we can collaborate with our music. It was really perfect, but a little slow to develop. It took us about six months to produce just a couple of tracks, but we kept working and producing track by track.
Emmerald: Were those first tracks you worked on on Satta?
Boozoo Bajou: Yes.
Emmerald: You guys are originally from Nuremberg, Germany and are still based there. How did you all get into Jamaican dub music and that New Orleans-sounding groove?
Boozoo Bajou: We were always interested in American music and found it more exciting than the music we had in our hometown. Where we were living, there's a lot of folk music and it's not that interesting. There were lot of American soldiers around and so there were a lot of radio stations based in the south of Germany playing American music like blues, soul and stuff like that. We met a lot of American and Black American musicians. We played in bands, and over the last few years, we've been playing in soul and funk bands. We were always in contact with those musicians and that music. And we traveled a lot and found a lot of record stores in America that have some good music.
Emmerald: What were some of the first musical experiences you had?
Boozoo Bajou: My first musical experiences were with my father because he is a composer, a conductor and a piano player. His music is very avant garde, very very complex. After the second World War, he played in the clubs with jazz musicians. And so I grew up in musical school and in high school studying classical piano and drums. We both played in rock bands and punk bands before we played in soul and funk groups. I took drum lessons about fifteen years ago when I was really into jazz.
Emmerald: Do you play your own instruments or do you work with other musicians?
Boozoo Bajou: I try to play a lot of instruments but it's not always possible to get it right, so we have a good friend of ours that plays guitar and we have other musicians as well that we work with. We record each instrument one by one. It's like recording the whole band in the studio but we work with one instrument and a musician and we keep with that for a couple of days. Then we look at it, checking what can we put on next, and that's how the song grows.
Emmerald: What are some differences and similarities between your new album Dust My Broom and Satta?
Boozoo Bajou: The main difference is that we worked more with singers and we tried different tempos and Satta was more focused on one flow and one vibe. We'd been working with that sound and that flow of tempo for such a time and we wanted to change a little to reflect some of the other interesting things we'd worked on. We really wanted to work with a couple of singers because we did some remixes for singers before and it was really interesting. We tried to keep an eye on the musical elements around that. We didn't want the focus to be solely on the music, but we also wanted the music to be important as well as the singing. We worked on the music first, then put the singers on and worked at it again. We still like to use little things, little elements, effects, instruments, and we like to try different things.
Emmerald: Satta was on the Stereo Deluxe label and Dust My Broom is on !K7. Why did you switch labels?
Boozoo Bajou: The main reason was that the owner of Stereo Deluxe died in a motorcycle accident two years ago, and then Ministry of Sound bought the label. The label manager now doesn't really share our vision for music and we wanted more personal contact with the label. It was also the right time for us to switch. If you are on the same label for more than five years, you may not be as fresh. !K7 was the only choice we had in Germany for international distribution and to have the freedom we wanted as producers. If you go to a bigger label, there's always someone there who has a different way of wanting to do things and there's less freedom. We're still learning with !K7. We just signed half a year ago and this is the first record with them.
Emmerald: I'm sure you'll do just fine. !K7 is a great label. Satta did extremely well. I believe it sold over sixty-five thousand copies and songs from the album were featured on over forty compilations. What is it about your music that has such universal appeal?
Boozoo Bajou: I think this is more a question for the listener. We don't go into the studio thinking that what we are working on with be popular. We just get in there and work really hard at it. We produce everything ourselves, mix and re-master, so we just put all of our work into it. Don't forget though, Satta came about during the golden age for underground music, four or five years ago. We would be happy if Dust My Broom sold half as much these days.
Emmerald: On your tour to promote Dust My Broom, will you be performing live or will it be a DJ set?
Boozoo Bajou: We will DJ and we'll have an MC with us.
Emmerald: What U.S. cities will you hit?
Boozoo Bajou: We don't know yet; it's all in the planning stages. We don't know the dates or anything. (laughs)
Emmerald: What are some places where you've really been able to find some great samples?
Boozoo Bajou: Yes, from Jamaica and it just, interview before we just talked with a guy from Columbia, and because I really was searching all Columbian music that would be interesting. Because, you know, you can produce all those things but, you know, even like in the midwest, all the warehouses have been in the US. So I think you can find it anywhere, you just have to know where to go.
Emmerald: What's one of your best record finds or best story about a record find?
Boozoo Bajou: When I was working in London I went to an auction and I was the only white guy in the auction. There were like a hundred Jamaicans and Caribbean guys there. At the auction, I bought about four rare seven inches. People came up to me afterwards and I just gave them the money and everything, and people come asking if I really like this music; they were surprised. That was really funny to me. It was like being part of a different culture.
Emmerald: Have you done any formal collaborations with artists other than the people with whom you worked on this album?
Boozoo Bajou: We have plans and we want to work with other artists. Next year hopefully we will work with Ben Weaver a young new singer from Minnesota. He sounds a bit like a cross between Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen. He's very young, but is a great songwriter and we'd like to produce a full-length record with him next year.
Emmerald: Who's on the wish list?
Boozoo Bajou: D'Angelo. Michael Franti, he has a nice voice, very deep like Barry White. Tony Joe White worked on this album with us. He wrote Rainy Night in Georgia and he sings the first track on the album. We're looking for female singers, Cassandra Wilson, Mary J. Blige, but they may be a little too big. (laughs) We did a remix for Common for Universal.
Emmerald: Right, Come Close.
Boozoo Bajou: Come Close, yes, that's right!
Emmerald: What else are you guys into besides music?
Boozoo Bajou: Beer! (laughs) There are a lot of breweries in Nuremberg. We don't have any dry areas. We've got some good wine as well, but we just like the beer.