Interview: Basement Jaxx
Thu, 04 Sep 2014 11:03:52
Basement Jaxx return with another revolutionary electronic offering in the form of Junto. The iconic duo lives up to the legacy they’ve built over the years, while pushing the boundaries yet again and evolving immensely. Most importantly though, these are some of their most unforgettable songs ever.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Simon Ratcliffe of Basement Jaxx talks Junto, movies, and so much more.
What's your take on Junto as a whole?
We wanted it to feel positive, uplifting, bright, and sort of hopeful. Our last album, Zephyr, was a bit more somber in its tone. We were feeling a bit claustrophobic somehow. We had a break. We did a couple of movie scores and some other things—which was really healthy. We had an orchestral performance of our music in Europe and London. There were solo projects. It was good. In the studios where we recorded Junto, there were windows and a view of the city and sky. We felt a bit energized. The general musical landscape has shifted, and it's come back around to where we were twenty years ago in a way. We felt comfortable in the world so we thought, "Let's just have some fun and make something we can DJ to start". It'd been a while since we were making tracks we actually wanted to play out. That was important. They're tracks our friends can put on at a barbecue. It's feel-good and sunny.
What's the story of "Mermaid of Salinas"?
"Mermaid of Salinas" is one of the first tracks we actually started for the album. We began working on it in the old studio. It came from a friend of ours who's a classical and flamenco guitar player. He's an amazing musician. He played us a piece of music that had this melody. We said, "You know what? We can take this, if you don't mind, and make it something a bit more powerful". What he played us was very much like a Latin coffee bar thing. We decided to give it the Jaxx treatment. There were a bunch of us in the studio, and we came in and sang along to that melody. It became more of a vocal refrain. Felix [Buxton] and Andrea, the original composer, were trying to think of themes. They decided on a true story. Andrea was in Ibiza on holiday. He had just broken up with someone, and he was feeling a bit blue. He was with Felix and a group of people. He disappeared for a while, and he came back an hour later with this smile on his face. Felix was like, "Where have you been? What have you been up to?" It turned out he had gone paddling in the sea and he got talking to a lady. They were chatting, and they went out further in the sea together. They ended up staying out there and, before they knew it, they were making love in the sea. They came out and said, "Goodbye". That was that! Salinas is a very well-known beach on the island of Ibiza. That's a true story!
Where did "Love Is At Your Side" come from?
That's a song I wrote. I wrote the lyrics for my daughter. It's a song from a father to his daughter. I had a vocoder I was singing through. We got Sam Brooks who sang on another song. The melody of the vocal is almost country. He suited it perfectly.
Is it important for you to conjure visuals with the songs?
Yeah, sure! You're creating a world, and we put a lot of detail into our music. They are collages in a way. You're trying to take people to another place that's full of surprises, mystery, poetry, and emotions. We've always had that aspect from day one since our earliest productions.
What else encourages that?
It's life. Living in a busy cosmopolitan city obviously affects you. I read regularly. I'm less and less blown away by films, but I do watch them. I prefer movies from the seventies. Some of the movies today seem so edited, concise, and perfect that they leave me a bit cold. I like any works of art, really. Living in London and doing the job we do, you're exposed to many colors, voices, and spirits. It's a very rich world.
If you were to compare the new album to a movie or a combination of movies, what would you compare it to?
Visually, it could approach some kind of hybrid of Stanley Kubrick, Baz Luhrmann, and Pedro Almodóvar.
What’s your favorite Basement Jaxx song?