Basement Jaxx in 2009.
From left: Felix Buxton, Simon Ratcliffe
Basement Jaxx is an English electronic music duo consisting of Felix Buxton and Simon Ratcliffe. The pair got their name from the regular night club they held in their hometown of Brixton, London, UK. They first rose to popularity in the mid 1990s. As the British Hit Singles & Albums book duly noted "they surfaced from the underground house scene, are regular transatlantic club chart-toppers and won the BRIT Award for Best Dance Act in 2002 and 2004".
Since 1992, Ratcliffe has released a few white label records which sold well and gained a lot of attention from the likes of LTJ Bukem and Goldie, enabled him to buy a few electronic musical instruments and set up a basic studio in a friend’s mother’s basement.
They released their first extended play called EP1 via the British independent record label Wall of Sound, with the help of its founder Mark Jones. The album went on to sell over a thousand copies, with plays from Tony Humphries in New York City, a thing that caught member Ratcliffe "mind-blow[ned]". "Knowing that people you respect are supporting your music is so important in the early days as encouragement to keep going, it means you are doing something right," he said.
At first, the name of the group they were thinking themselves was "Underground Oasis," however, the idea was scrapped due to a friend of them "who was involved in the music scene" noticing the existence of a similar named rock band that might "get big".
Basement Jaxx started in Brixton, South London, in 1994, where they held a regular club night called Basement Jaxx, which was also held in a variety of venues including The George IV, The Crypt and The Junction. They were joined by DJs including DJ Sneak, Daft Punk, and singer Corrina Joseph. They mutated the night into an equally popular club called Rooty, the namesake of their second album.
In 1999, the group released their first full-length album, Remedy. Remedy included the single "Red Alert", which was featured in the film Bend It Like Beckham as well as Nickelodeon and Coca-Cola commercials. Other singles on this album were "Jump N' Shout", "Bingo Bango", and "Rendez-Vu", which is Basement Jaxx's highest UK Singles Chart entry to date at number 4. Basement Jaxx also released Jaxx Unreleased, a compilation album of B-sides, remixes, and other assorted material, in 1999. 2000 saw them release Camberwell, another release of new material.
Their next album, 2001's Rooty included singles "Romeo", "Jus 1 Kiss", "Where's Your Head At?", "Do Your Thing", and "Get Me Off". The music video for album opener "Romeo" is an homage to the Bollywood film style. "Where's Your Head At?" became an international hit in 2002, also known for its inclusion on the Lara Croft: Tomb Raider soundtrack. "Do Your Thing" was included in the video game SSX 3. Xxtra Cutz was released shortly after Rooty, containing B-sides from the album's singles. Span Thang and Junction, two EPs, were released in 2001–2002.
2003–05: Kish Kash and The Singles
In 2003, Basement Jaxx released their third full-length album, Kish Kash, which included contributions from Lisa Kekaula (of the Bellrays), Me'shell Ndegeocello, Dizzee Rascal, Totlyn Jackson, JC Chasez, Siouxsie Sioux, and Phoebe. From this album, the tracks "Lucky Star", "Good Luck", and "Plug It In" were released as singles. The track "Good Luck" was re-released in 2004, after exposure from being the theme to BBC's Euro 2004 coverage, and was also featured in the soundtrack of Just Married and Appleseed, an anime film released in 2004. Kish Kash was recognised the following year at the 47th Grammy Awards, winning Buxton and Ratcliffe the inaugural Best Electronic/Dance Album award.
The duo produced "Shake It", a song from JC Chasez's Schizophrenic.
In 2005, the duo released the number 1 compilation The Singles along with a video collection on DVD, comprising all the singles from their previous three albums, some earlier releases (featured on Atlantic Jaxx Recordings: A Compilation), and two new tracks, "Oh My Gosh" and "U Don't Know Me", which were both released as singles. The Singles (Special Edition) was also released, which contained the original compilation along with a bonus disc entitled Bonus Traxx, containing many previously unreleased tracks, as well as remixes of existing Basement Jaxx songs. The duo appeared as a headline act on the Pyramid stage at Glastonbury Festival in 2005 when Kylie Minogue was forced to pull out after being diagnosed with cancer. Basement Jaxx played with a live band made up of artists who recorded the album. Drumtech-trained Nathan 'Tugg' Curran was on drums for Glastonbury and has remained a constant performer.
2006–10: Crazy Itch Radio and Scars
Their fourth studio album, Crazy Itch Radio, was released on 4 September 2006 in the UK, simultaneously with its first single, "Hush Boy". The album featured guest vocals by Martina Sorbara (credited as "Martina Bang"), Lily Allen, and Robyn. In 2006, Basement Jaxx were also one of the support acts for Robbie Williams on his 'Close Encounters' tour. For Cyndi Lauper's Bring Ya to the Brink in 2008, they produced and wrote the track "Rocking Chair". They also released a series of releases over this period of new material, entitled Planet.
They went on tour with Robbie Williams in 2006.
In 2009, Buxton revealed in a BBC Radio 1 broadcast that Basement Jaxx's forthcoming album Scars was completed and being mastered. Buxton stated that the tracks include guest appearances by Yoko Ono, Santigold, Lightspeed Champion, and Yo! Majesty. The band was also interested in getting Grace Jones to add vocals to the new album. The album was released in September 2009. The first single "Raindrops" preceded it in June 2009. The band recorded at the Bizspace centre in Coldharbour Lane, in Loughborough Junction.
Also in 2009, Zephyr was released
In 2010, the duo released the non-album single "Dracula".
2011–present: Attack the Block and Junto
In November 2011, Simon revealed the pair were working on a new album – hinting that some tracks were already appearing in their DJ sets. At their first live show for several years at Chiswick House Festival in July 2012, the band performed some new material from their forthcoming album including the song "Diamonds". The album is being recorded in their new studio in Kings Cross, London. Possible tracks that were predicted to appear on the album according to Pitchfork include "Make.Believe", "Let's Rock this Road Together", "Back 2 the Wild", "We R Not Alone", "Galactical", "Power 2 The People", "Mermaid of Salinas", "People of Planet Earth" and "What a Difference Your Love Makes". The band ran a contest through graphic design firm JDO, where the band will use the graphic identity (including the album and single artwork designs) that the winner created for their upcoming album and consequent promotional items.
"Back 2 the Wild" was released as a single on 12 April 2013, with an accompanying video co-directed by Matt Maitland and Natalia Stuyk being uploaded to their YouTube account on 16 April, though the single ultimately did not appear on the upcoming album.
"What a Difference Your Love Makes" was released as a single on 30 September 2013. The single's accompanying video was released on Vevo on 7 August 2013. It was directed by Damian Weilers and shot in South Africa. On 1 May 2014, Basement Jaxx released a new song for the album called "Unicorn" on SoundCloud.
On 19 May 2014, Basement Jaxx officially announced their seventh album, Junto, which was released on 25 August 2014 through Atlantic Jaxx and PIAS. In July, the duo released the first lead single off the album, "Never Say Never". The music video, directed by Saman Kesh, is about the development of a "twerking" robot that is intended to save humanity from a world without dancing.
In addition to their own work, Basement Jaxx have become in-demand remixers. Their more prominent work includes remixes of "4 My People" by Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott, "Everyman… Everywoman…" by Yoko Ono, "Like I Love You" by Justin Timberlake, and "She Wants to Move" by N.E.R.D, which was included as a B-side on the follow-up single "Maybe." They also collaborated with Janet Jackson on unreleased songs for her Damita Jo album. Sophie Ellis-Bextor, as well as The Botz and Garold Marks, have stated they are fans and would like to collaborate with Basement Jaxx in the future.
The duo were invited to write an exclusive piece of music to accompany a work of art they admired in London's Tate Modern museum, Karel Appel's "Hip, Hip, Hoorah!". The work was initially not available for sale, but later appeared on the album Zephr. In 2007, their track "Close Your Eyes", sung by Linda Lewis, was featured in the Japanese CGI anime movie Vexille.
In the past, Buxton's father didn't let him watch Top of the Pops and played his children Austrian music and Japanese music instead. "He was always very proud of that we didn't watch Top of the Pops. [...] He thought that made me hungry and want it more," he said. He was a big fan of American house music, which was difficult to get hold of in his hometown at the time. "I used to listen to Choice FM where the legends of the scene could be heard and went to Blackmarket Records in London’s Soho to try and find the sounds I was looking for."
Growing up in the Netherlands due to his father's job as a chemical engineer, Ratcliffe went to went to an American international school, where he was influenced by American rock music by the likes of Neil Young, Ted Nugent, Deep Purple, Crosby, Stills & Nash, and followed by the Bee Gees, David Bowie and Gary Numan.
Basement Jaxx's music has been described variously as house and big beat over the course of their career. Prince's influence has also been found on their music. "I remember when we first came to America, they had to work out which radio stations we could go to," Buxton says. "They said that in a way we were a bit for urban stations, we were a bit for pop stations. They didn’t know where to place us and things were very segregated back then."
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- Kish Kash (2003)
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- Scars (2009)
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- Junto (2014)
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