Basement Jaxx's new single "Red Alert" might be their first single for Astralwerks/XL Recordings, but Felix Buxton and Simon Ratcliffe have been honing their unique brand of punk garage? for more than five years.
Basement Jaxx first started as an ideal, as an attempt to get back to the roots of house, to the original jack-your-body all night long abandon of the Chicago loft parties. Even before they released their first EP in 1994, Felix and Simon had thrown the first illegal Basement Jaxx parties in a dodgy Mexican restaurant in pre-gentrified Brixton, London. The dubious attentions both of the police and the local crack dealers soon put a stop to that, but by then the pair were ensconced in Simon's (then literally) bedroom studio, cooking up a mix of New York house with London club attitude.
That was four years ago. When they started out, it might have been out of a desire to emulate their Stateside heroes, but Felix and Simon have long since left any comparisons behind. Basement Jaxx aren't boasting but merely restating the facts when they admit that now, there are no boundaries to break but their own. Their contemporary Thomas Bangalter, one of the driving forces behind both Daft Punk and Stardust, said recently that Basement Jaxx was the only new music he could be bothered to listen to.
So far, Felix and Simon are best known for creating club classics like the top 20 ragga-house hit "Flylife" and the Ibiza anthem "Samba Magic", as well as kick-starting the career of British garage diva Corinna Joseph. But these achievements tell only part of a story that has been fully documented by a welter of independent releases, remixes, white labels and dubplates that runs roughshod over persnickety genre definitions, subjecting hardcore ragga, heady salsa and everything in between to the vigorous Basement Jaxx treatment.
That unique Basement Jaxx sound was forged in the furnace of their club, a monthly mash-up that's gone from attracting a few misguided mates, to London's most oversubscribed lock-out. The Jaxx regulars, who've followed them through the pubs, clubs and warehouse spaces of South London, have always been a demanding but devoted testing ground for the pair's latest acetates, as well as giving an open-minded welcome to a series of improbable club anthems dredged from the depths of their record collections. Anyone up for Beenie Man, followed by Public Enemy, followed by "Love Is In The Air" ? And while their DJing skills have propelled them across the world to Japan, Australia, California and New York, the vibe they deliver has remained pure South London.
While the much-vaunted British "nu-house" boom foundered through sheer lack of ambition, Basement Jaxx have always been upfront about their impatience with trainspotting. Their music comes from the soul, but, like the Chemical Brothers or Underworld, it's also about pogoing around the dancefloor and having the time of your life rather than keeping a trainspotter's eye on the BPM counter. They appeal as much to the big beat boozers as they do to the man in the street and their most fanatical fans in Tokyo or Toronto.
Four years down the line, Basement Jaxx have triumphantly emerged as the missing link between Daft Punk and Timbaland. They are the perfect musical fusion for the end of the century party.
1999 is set to be the year we all move to the Basement. Hold tight - are you ready to Jaxx?