The house that Jaxx built - Basement Jaxx interview
Five incredible albums in, Basement Jaxx are British dance legends, not least because they put on a hell of a live show. Felix Buxton, one half of the team, tells Mark Edmundson how they learned to share the love
From the home front, Basement Jaxx have been uncharacteristically quiet for the last three years. They’ve kept out of view, retiring into studious production mode and, while they say they never went away, they can’t deny they have, at least, been abroad. They’ve been indulging foreign audiences with their spectacular stage show while, back here, we wait in feverish anticipation of new material and more performances.
In between their studio boffinry and developing personal lives, the production duo of Felix Buxton and Simon Ratcliffe have been touring the globe, taking in Russia and North Korea in the company of esteemed, if incongruent, talents such as Snoop Dogg and Oasis. Now their fifth album, Scars, is hitting the shelves, it is finally time for them to bring home the live audio-visual extravaganza that has garnered almost as much acclaim as their four previous albums.
‘It started ten years ago when we finished our first album,’ says Buxton. ‘The record company said you’ll need to do some kind of live show because you’re a band with an album. Up to that point we’d really only DJed in clubs. We played Glastonbury around that time and I think we were on the second stage, quite a good slot, and I remember seeing it on the TV a year or so later – just me and Simon standing there playing some music – and thinking “Oh my God, it looks so boring”’.
Compare that with today’s riot of feathers, sequins and lasers and you can be glad the duo shamed themselves into creating a live experience worthy of their sound. The Basement Jaxx onstage phenomenon complements perfectly the kleptomaniac nature of their work with an all-inclusive carnival atmosphere that celebrates not just the music but also the audience and, more simply, the event itself. ‘It’s just making it a live situation,’ says Buxton still trying to put his finger on how it came together. ‘In the 60s they used to have a happening and I like the idea of that. People come together, things happen, and we all experience and share in something.’
It will be fascinating to see what tracks from the new album will make it to the stage in the upcoming UK dates and what those choices will bring to the party. Scars is an album borne out of testing times for the partnership personally, and went through more than one metamorphosis before eventually growing out of dark introspection into trademark buoyancy. ‘I think stylistically it has elements of everything we’ve done up to now,’ says Buxton. ‘There was no kind of general plot. When we started it was a case of, well, what do we want to do now?’
Not feeling they fitted with the dance scene at the time, Simon and Felix were free to go in any direction they liked, though they were still mindful of their existing audience. It means they have pursued any and all creative avenues with a myriad of guest contributors, somehow still managing to draw it all back together into something that is, just like the all-singing, all-dancing live show, unmistakably Basement Jaxx.
Basement Jaxx, Barrowland, Glasgow, Sat 12 Dec; Scars is out Mon 14 Sep.