It’s been a long time between beats for Basement Jaxx’s Australian fans. Last on our shores for a series of DJ sets with Cricket Australia in 2013, the duo’s talk of returning for a live show in 2014 and industry rumours of them headlining Future Musical Festival 2015 came to nought.
The drought is now over however, with Basement Jaxx’s maestros – Simon Ratcliffe and Felix Buxton – set to return down under as special guests at Electric Gardens Festival.
Their inclusion on the line-up continues the pair’s globe-circling run of DJ gigs, which the pair currently favour over live shows. “We’ve put [live shows] to sleep for a while because both Felix and I, we’re happy just DJing at the moment,” Simon says. “With DJing, we can change it up a bit more, you know. There’s more flexibility.
“Depending on the crowd, we could play all our own music all night, or we could play other people’s music all night, or a mix of the two. We could play old, we could play new: it depends on who the audience are really, what the venue is like and what the whole vibe is of the place, which makes it fun.
"And it’s just me and Felix, and often where you go depends on what the other guy’s just put on. You sort of steer each other left and then right, and then left and then right.”
The art of DJing has transformed immensely since Basement Jaxx first surfaced from the underground house music scene in the mid '90s. Turntables and records have been replaced by multi-channel controllers and jog wheels, an advancement that for Simon provides greater artistic freedom. “Before, you had two pieces of vinyl that you had to synchronise and get to stay in time.
“Records are beautiful things, but it’s a lot more of a craft mixing records, not only to be creative with it but to be able to stay in time in a nice way and to complement each other as they [the records] blend from one to the other. And records jump.
“Now with all the technology, you don’t have to worry about mixing which is good because you can then put your energy and more attention into how things mix.
"You don’t have to worry about the mechanics of things staying in time. You can be a lot more creative and you can have three or four things going on at the same time, and on a good night you’re composing on the spot which is amazing. And your selection of course is very, very important.”
Discussing the sounds and artists that are currently inspiring Basement Jaxx’s DJ sets, Simon sounds almost spoilt for choice. “We were just doing a gig with Roger Sanchez who’s one of the originals – he was around before we were – and we were both reflecting and saying how, in a good way, the music at the moment, or for a while actually, is very reminiscent of the music from years ago.
"The production standards have evolved and changed obviously, but the vibe is very much the same vibe that it would have been in the early '80s probably, or when this music began.
“So it’s a very strong form of music I think. When we started it was something quite fresh and new on the block, and now it’s an accepted form of music so it’s great. It's strong, it’s got legs and it moves people. It’s soulful.”
Before joining fellow main acts Eric Prydz, Jamie Jones and Sasha at Electric Gardens Festival, Basement Jaxx are scheduled to perform a club set in Adelaide. “I’m looking forward to playing a club in Adelaide. We’ve played the Big Day Out there several times… but I don’t know what a club in Adelaide is going to be like. I imagine it’s going to be really awesome.
“It’ll be great to come back. The Aussies, they know their music, they love their music and they’re always a really good crowd. And we hope we make them happy. We’re going to do our best.”
Basement Jaxx Electric Gardens Festival Shows
Thu 26 Jan - Moonee Valley Racecourse (Melbourne)Sat 28 Jan - Centennial Park (Sydney)Sat 29 Jan - The Riverstage (Brisbane)Sat 4 Feb - Red Hill Auditorium (Perth)Basement Jaxx also play a solo club set a Fat Controller (Adelaide) 20 January.