With fond memories of SA in place, I ask him how it got to this: A Dj duo throwing underground parties and spinning house records in a basement in Brixton, to being the first breakthrough Dance Band to dominate the mainstream charts, take MTV by storm and becoming, over the last 10 years, a global sound sensation with show schedules that see them touring the planet for months at a time. ‘It wasn’t intentional, it just kind of happened and we went with it. When our first album came out they started calling us an Electronic Band, we thought, ‘well that’s alright with us’ and it pretty much exploded from there.’ Felix says.
No doubt, they’ve come a long way from catching the Night Bus home after their weekly jam. Basement Jaxx ended their recent world tour, which took them all over Australia, Japan and the US, promoting their 2009 album Zephyer, in March this year, and have been enjoying a well deserved blink-and-you’ll-miss-it summer at home. ‘We haven’t done any major gigs since we’ve been back- Simon and I sometimes do a quiet little set here and there, at parties our friends are doing or something, but it’s difficult to keep these things under wraps and intimate! ’
It’s great, however, that locals are such big supporters of their music. Simon Ratcliffe and Felix Buxton met in London in 1998 and the two quickly bonded over a love for this ‘American Jacking House’ sound. ‘I wanted to make my own dance tracks because I felt a lot of the dance tracks around seemed very simple and weren’t well enough. I was putting on parties and dj’ing; Simon was still at college and doing some other music, and we thought it would be interesting to try and make some.’ He says. The two went into studio every two weeks over the course of a year and crafted their own sound. ‘We brought in more rhythmical elements; Latin rhythms and Gospel and Soul. More black music and less boom, boom.’
Their music carries a signature free-spirited essence that’s often being compared to the likes of Daft Punk or Groove Armada, yet those don’t quite fit. ‘We describe it as Maximal because it’s got so many different sounds feeding it.’ Felix says. ‘We found it hard to operate in the Minimal Sound that took over the scene a few years ago, it didn’t fit us- what Basement Jaxx is all about, so we’re kind of glad that’s over. It’s a healthy time for music right now- it’s come alive again. There’s lots of mixing and mashing up of sounds going on, it’s interesting and exciting!’
So what can South Africa expect to hear this time around? ‘We’re really excited to be coming back! When we do a clubland set we usually play half our own music, and half other stuff- tracks we’re enjoying that have the right energy or something really fresh about them- we like to make our sets as interesting as possible.’ Felix ends, ‘Although- this time I’ll be sure to keep both my feet on the stage!’
Basement Jaxx in Johannesburg– 4 September at Skyraiders in Germiston with local support from Roger Goode, Household Funk, Goodluck, Flash Republic, Ryan Dent, Dj Milkshake and more!
Click HERE to win tickets to see Basement Jaxx live in Cape Town and Johannesburg!