Basement Jaxx

Felix Buxton from Basement Jaxx gives us the low down on Junto, the health of dance music and London Without Limits…

Jim Ottewill
  • By Jim Ottewill
  • 24 Sep 2014
  • min read
British dance music duo Basement Jaxx have crash landed back into musical consciences in 2014 with a new album, live show and dizzying number of projects orbiting their music.

It has been five years between this year’s warmly received Junto and 2009’s Scars and Zephyr. But the band have rarely let up on the pace ever since they first came to prominence via their infamous Brixton DJ nights in the nineties. In the supposed down time between these latest records they worked on a soundtrack for Brit flick Attack the Block, the Basement Jaxx vs. Metropole Orkest orchestral record as well as their new full length material.

While live shows are in the pipeline, Felix is also taking part in the London Without Limits festival, a series of sensory and sociable blindfold events. The events will help raise money for RLSB (Royal London Society for Blind People), a London-based charity and will see Felix performing alongside beatboxer Shlomo and the London Contemporary Voices choir. It’s part of Basement Jaxx’s Power to the People campaign, an initiative set up to encourage people from across the world to collaborate on new versions of their song of the same name. We caught up with Felix to find out more about the project, their latest LP and his thoughts on the current health of dance music…

How did you get involved in the London Without Limits project?

I’m always up for anything charity-related and the idea of working with a contemporary choir really appealed. I thought it’d be great while it also tied in very nicely with the Power to the People project we’re doing.

This involves people from across the world performing different versions of our Power to the People song in different styles and languages, demonstrating that music can break down boundaries and connect people from all creeds and cultures. The song is on our new album but we’ve let it have its own life outside the record. It’s about people having a voice.

How have people responded to it?

Really positively. It’s happened very organically. In a world where everything is overly marketed and contrived we’ve let it spread via word of mouth. So far we’ve got 113 countries involved. I’m enjoying that and with the choir I thought I could do another interpretation, while reaching out to the blind population. We can never guess where someone else is coming from – so being ushered into a room and sitting there blindfolded listening to music certainly offers a shift of perspective.

How have you prepared for it?

I wrote something, the choir went to rehearse it and it sounds great. I wrote a special piece for the night called Love Frequency. That’s based around the 528hz frequency. I’ve researched healing frequencies and thought I’d do a piece of music which starts at this frequency and develops the idea. I’m interested to see what would happen when you play this tone. I played a DJ set using healing frequencies at a garage in Dalston for about 40 minutes and everyone was completely out for another five minutes after I stopped the music. It was amazing.

Your latest album Junto has just been released - how did you find making the record and what were the inspirations behind it?

Music has come back round again so it feels like the sound of our first album is now back in fashion. House music, with a slower, soulful vibe full of melody with singers – that’s what we were doing at the start. We wanted to do something along those lines to make something we could DJ out and play in our live show.

We decided to do an LP in a new studio with windows in it which let the light in. It reflected a new urge to do something positive.

Have you got any affinity with the new dance acts coming through?

Yeah these acts are all cool - they’re into the same things as us and into what we do too which is great. It’s nice meeting these young guys. Rudimental were gorillas on stage in a show we did recently. People always dress up for us when we play live. There are loads of good producers out there, musicians who have shunned the EDM wave and are searching for something with more sophistication and depth.

Collaboration has been a motif for Basement Jaxx - who has been the most fun to work with?

It was great to work with Yoko Ono. She’s from the sixties and the peace and love generation and managed to retain her attitude of positivity and openness. She came in and asked us what we wanted her to do. I gave her a page of words I’d written – just abstract thoughts and she took it and read it as a poem. The NME hailed it as classic Yoko, totally in her style. That’s the way the world and journos choose to see things. It’s quite funny when they get it completely wrong.

It’s always interesting meeting people into different things and getting their perspective. It adds a bit of colour to life.

What do you think about London as clubbing centre?

I don’t think that exists now. Vegas and Ibiza have concentrated centres. The access to information means you can get as good a night as anywhere in the UK as London. Before London had the keys to the information and musical access. Now everything is more widespread.

You’ve worked on recent film scores – how have you approached them?

We really enjoyed Attack the Block. It was like having a regular job. We’d get a scene every morning, make a load of sounds and producer Stuart Price would help us clean them up afterwards. It was really nice to do it as you get to realise along the way that you can’t be too precious about it. It’s about the film so it’s bigger than you. You’re just a cog in the machine.

Which new artists are you into at the moment?

I don’t really stay on top of new music. I pick up new sounds from my travels so I’m more random. Occasionally something will catch my ear. There’s a tune we’ve done with Ella Eyre and an orchestra which we might put out at Christmas. She’s great and has loads of potential.

What are your top tips for new producers?

Generally in a world where there is so much corporate entertainment, give us something more honest and artistic. It’s about ignoring what other people are doing, do your own thing and stop worrying and tweeting about what you haven’t done yet.

I talked to Thomas from Daft Punk a few years ago and his dad was in the music biz. He said you just need to stop worrying. The best things come from somewhere where you have space to breath.

Current projects?

Power to the People has been a major project over the last few weeks.. We’re touring the UK in November and December, maybe heading to the states as Never Say Never is number one in the Billboard in the US. Which is nice as we’ve had no joy from British radio at all. We’re too old for Radio 1, too edgy for Radio 2 and too commercial for Radio 6. It’s fine. You just have to not worry about it and continue moving forward. We’ve always been outsiders.

Felix performs at London Without Limits on 25 September. Visit the website to find out more.

Click here for more information on Power to the People.