BASEMENT JAXX – ATTENTION AND ENERGY

So how’s 2017 been for you so far?

I’m going to get married in the summer. So, that’s really exciting. So, besides that, I don’t know. I feel there’s a positivity in the air. I think people got a bit wrapped up in the world and people were dying and stuff. They’re always dying. Stars have always been dying. It’s no big deal. Things are just carrying on as they always have. Yes, if there are politicians that you don’t like or things you don’t like then lobby your MPs, make changes, make a world you do like. To me, it all seems quite simple. But it’s almost fashionable to be part of some ‘oh, we’re all doomed’ mindset, which to me seems like a very small minded mindset.

LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 25: (L-R) Simon Ratcliffe and Felix Buxton of Basement Jaxx backstage at the Red Bull Music Academy Sound System at Notting Hill Carnival at Notting Hill on August 25, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Tristan Fewings/Getty Images for Red Bull)

The tail end of last year was all a bit doom and gloom coming from everyone, wasn’t it?

Yeah. But the thing is, there was other stuff happening as well. I was speaking to a friend of mine recently who said actually last year, he had a really good year. While everyone was worrying about what certain people were saying, he was getting on with his life. Which I think we should all be doing. If you look at Trump and stuff like that, we’ve given him so much fuel and attention, he must feel like a million dollars. If we just concentrated on people we did care about rather than giving him airtime, I don’t know. People seem to get things back to front. I don’t understand why we put so much energy into things that we don’t like. Why don’t we put energy into things that we like and that we think are good? Because when you give things attention and energy, they grow. And then we create the world that we want to have. So, it’s quite a simple mathematical solution. Where energy goes, energy flows. And that’s science.

What have you been doing since your last album, as a summary of what you’ve been up to?

We finished doing the live shows at the end of Christmas before last. And last summer, we were just DJing and both doing individual projects. Simon’s working with a blues guitarist and an album for him. I work with Simon. We produced some Canadian new artist that’s coming out with her album next year. I can’t remember what her name is which is not very good promotion, is it? But that’s good. It’s called ‘Strange Heart’ because she has actually got a strange heart. She’s got some holes in her heart. And she’s been married three times. She’s quite young. She’s definitely got quite a strange heart. She’s really cool. Just various things. I’m itching to get on with writing musicals, which I’ve been talking about for years and not doing. So, I’ve really got to stop talking about it and get on with the doing. Talk is cheap.

You’re really good at having an eclectic sound and bringing in new vocalists and that sort of thing. How do you come across these interesting new people that you work with?

Living in the world really. We’re exposed to so much now. It’s amazing how boring pop music is and how everyone’s doing the same thing. It seems a bit ridiculous because there’s such a rich variety of music in the world, which we can actually find now and experience. But still, people keep on doing the same X Factor girl hitting the high note and some kind of derivative, a bit dancey pop music, don’t they? Most people do the same thing. The lyrics are all a bit sickly, made up – I don’t know. They just seem contrived by an advertising team. And that’s what pop music’s become. To me, I have no interest in that whatsoever. But anything that’s authentic in the world. I suppose I’ve always been interested in different forms of music and different forms of culture. I love meeting different people from different countries. I find that interesting. It makes your world wider and also challenges some of your viewpoints. It opens up your perspectives. Anything that does that is good and we should encourage and embrace that because I think that’s part of what being human is about. I think it’s experiencing what it is to be alive and actually realise that none of us know what’s going on. We get a bit wrapped up in the media culture of someone says this particular thing is particularly important when really, it’s just something that we’re all focusing on for a moment. Music’s the same. If music touches you then that should be enough and it adds something to your life. We get very wrapped up in the details of is this the kind of thing that I want to see myself listening to? Which is a ridiculous vanity. When you’re old and grey, you’ll think ‘why was I so worried about this small-minded attitude?’ Everything’s moving forward and it always will. Things will keep changing. Also, I think now, with Trump and Brexit, everything’s getting shaken up a bit. I think we might start to get a bit of art and people caring about stuff coming into culture. Musical culture’s been very bland for the last ten years really. That’s why people are so upset about Prince and George Michael and whoever else dying. There’s always been people dying and often they die very young. Amy Winehouse was very young. I think a lot of those people did very well and produced a lot of stuff. I’ve gone off on a tangent now. I don’t know where I was going. But I just started looking because it’s really started snowing properly now.

You’ve got all these eclectic things going on and you get to travel quite a lot due to your job, where would you say is one of the most exotic or weirdest places that you’ve ever had to go and play in?

I think probably of places I’ve travelled, the most interesting places have been not where I’ve played but where I went out to afterwards. In Japan, the last time I was there, I went to Kyoto before and actually looking out the window now, it reminds me. I wanted to discover a bit more of the spiritual Japan. I was sitting on the top of Mount Kurama, in an onsen, like an outdoor bath with steam coming up, naked, and then it was snowing. That was amazing. I feel so lucky and blessed to have been able to have had that opportunity. A lot of cities are very similar. A lot of cities have a McDonalds and all of these kinds of things. A lot of that stuff doesn’t really excite me. You have the history, I’m interested in that, the architecture. But I’m more excited about the glorious nature of the world and real people’s culture. Everywhere has different things to offer and curious foods that you can’t get in other places. But more and more, a lot of places are becoming very similar with this homogenised global culture in the cities and often the places where you play. Actually, I did a tour by myself, of India. That’s probably one of the most enjoyable things I’ve done. That was basically because they’d never had a white guy play at any of their things before. So, that was quite interesting. And it wasn’t as evolved, the culture. So, there was this real, fresh excitement. It wasn’t all advertising and expensive entry fees and people being herded around. It was actually really free and exciting. And you could play any music you wanted because there were no rules. I was the guy from abroad so, that wasn’t – which was a lot more liberating and free and interesting probably.

Whereabouts did you get to in India?

I was in New Delhi, Goa, Tuni and Pune. I think my favourite one was Tuni. I ended up just playing the local discotheque on Saturday night, which was workers and secretaries and people who’d just finished work on the Friday night or whatever. They probably didn’t know any of the music that I knew. What a challenge. To these people, all what I know about various cultures, they hadn’t got any of these benchmarks. So, I have to play them music that touches them and makes them want to dance. I thought that was great because as a DJ, that’s when you become properly alive. It’s not based on what people are thinking about as a good record to play, it’s about a primal connection.

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