Basement Jaxx interview: ‘Lady Gaga felt like the end of pop music’

The club-conquering duo are back with a new album, but where’s Felix Buxton’s head at? Ballet, advocating unity and spotting UFOs, apparently

During the late ’90s and early noughties, Basement Jaxx’s anthemic, colourful house ruled the airwaves and the clubs with its impossibly catchy choruses. After a few direction changes, Jaxx are back with a new album, ‘Junto’, that belts out the kind of big, bold tracks that the duo first grabbed our attention with all those years ago. This time, however, the music’s message runs a little deeper, as half of the Jaxx, Felix Buxton (above left), explains.

How does the new album differ from your previous records?
‘It’s back to the more basic style of ‘Remedy’ [Basement Jaxx’s first album]. We didn’t want to go too leftfield. We’ve always DJed and we wanted something in our sets which was our own music.’

Do you enjoy DJing your own music?
‘Our big tunes aren’t really ours any more, they belong to everybody. In a way that’s the public service; I enjoy it because people enjoy it. I’ve never been a snobby DJ.’

Is it important the new album has that carnival spirit Basement Jaxx are known for?
‘That’s come back into the mix on this LP. Music’s had a while of being minimal and edgy, and people are tired of it. “Junto” is about togetherness and all of humanity. It’s a call for peace and positivity.’

Has a deep house revival changed club culture?
‘Someone said to me “There’s loads of people making Basement Jaxx-style music again”, like the deep stuff we used to do. The new album is relevant to what people are into now. If we’re doing stuff that people don’t want to hear, it’s pointless. There’s no point massaging our egos.’

So what’s off the agenda now?
‘Well, when Lady Gaga came along, that felt like the end of pop music. It was super-edited, super-hyped, super-sensational – it was like a futuristic idea of a pop star. It felt like she’d summarised pop culture up to this point and it was kind of done.’

‘Not many men can twerk; you’ve got to have a decent-sized bum to shake it properly’

© Onde Eksyt

Basement Jaxx are known for extravagant live shows. Did you always set out to create that?
‘It’s just developed over time.
 Now we have a ballet dancer travelling with us, and crowds love that at festivals and in clubs – they’re gobsmacked. People are obsessed with low culture and high-impact dross. What about quality and authenticity?’

So do you promote the opposite: high culture?
‘Part of my interest in music is promoting culture we like; not just clubs, but also contemporary dance, jazz dance, classical dance.’

The video for your recent single, ‘Never Say Never’, features a ‘twerk-bot’. Can you twerk?
‘I’m probably not the best dancer. Not many men can do it; you’ve got to have a decent-sized bum to shake it properly.’

What’s the most significant thing that’s happened to you over the past 12 months?
‘We were bowled over by the response to the new record in the US. The fact that people care about what we’re doing is a relief. Apart from that, the most impactful thing was seeing a UFO.’

Where did you see the UFO?
‘Bang over London in the middle of the afternoon, with four other people. It’s amazing how closed-minded people are. All I said was I’d seen something I didn’t understand, which looked like a flying saucer, but could be a military aircraft or an agricultural device. People got aggressive and were telling me, “No, you didn’t see anything.”’

Has it changed your outlook on life?
‘It made me think we’ve got to open people’s minds. It also made me read more and look into religious beliefs and spirituality. I thought that the fifth dimension was a place to aim for, in music. Everything in life is to do with a higher purpose. We need to bring the frequency up.’

‘Junto’ is released on August 15.

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