Catching Up With Basement Jaxx
By Alex Panisch
Junto, the Spanish meaning "to unite," is also the name of Basement Jaxx’s seventh studio album. The title works on two levels: it doesn’t only describe the LP’s eclectic take on deep house, but also the mission behind the record to unite people of disparate backgrounds.
“We wanted to do something positive and something that connected with people,” Basement Jaxx’s Felix Buxton explains. “If we come together, we can do something amazing.”
It’s been over a decade since the Brixton-based electronic duo put out their ground-breaking first album, Remedy.” Since then, dance music hasn’t only gone global (and finally found popularity in America), it’s gone mainstream—at least for the time being. Stadium-filling EDM acts like Avicii and Calvin Harris now break the Top 10 on the Billboard charts and find radio play on pop stations.
“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.”
With Junto, Basement Jaxx are returning to a place they helped to settle. Along with acts like Daft Punk and Fatboy Slim, Basement Jaxx added some pop flourishes to dance music. A decade and a half on, overlap between the two genres—and their fans—is a common occurrence. This idea of a positive unity, not only in styles but in listeners, works as Junto’s underpinning.
“That’s why we started Basement Jaxx and I think that’s something that’s gotten swept up by what we were doing…maybe we were taking ourselves too seriously,” Felix says. “But for me, Remedy was always about togetherness, which is the appeal of house music. You may be black; you may be white; you may be Jew; you may be gentile. It doesn’t matter in our house.”
Drawing more on the theme of unity and the desire foster more of it, Basement Jaxx has created PowertothePeople.fm. Fans from all around the world perform versions of the Junto track “Power to the People” and upload their contributions to the site. Once enough versions and renditions of the song have been created, users will be able to mix and match various elements to create their own unique mix.
“We’ve got versions of ‘Power to the People’ in different languages and styles, so you can mix the different languages together,” Buxton explains. “There are four parts to the music, so maybe the verse can be in Turkish and the chorus could be sung in Indian and the music could be beat could be from a drum used there and the strings could be from an old violin form Paraguay.” The goal of the project is to create and put out a global version of the track World Peace Day on September 21.
Junto is out now from Atlantic Jaxx/Pias