Simon Ratcliffe on Basement Jaxx’s Australian return & future music projects

Basement Jaxx are currently in Australia for the Electric Gardens Festival, which has been taking the British duo around the country to some large festival crowds. It’s been a prime opportunity for Simon Ratcliffe and Felix Buxton to reconnect with Australian audiences after some time away and even though they haven’t released a studio album since 2014’s Junto, their house DJ sets have been riling up large numbers of punters brilliantly.

Along with the festival sets, Basement Jaxx have been fitting in some exclusive club sets in Australia, hitting Adelaide first and now, eyeing up one last one in Sydney (also set to be their final show on the tour). Speaking with Ratcliffe when they touched down in Sydney ahead of the weekend, he describes their shows in Australia – and NZ – so far.

“It was great,” he remembers of Adelaide. “We were both just off that plane for that gig but it was great. The audience was rocking and it was awesome. It is really gratifying when that happens and you can connect with people. It feels like you’ve done your job, really. You’re getting paid to do a job and you want to make people happy; you want to come away thinking, ‘We’ve done it, that’s great’. When we played in Auckland it was pouring down with rain because they had a storm and people were either going to just leave or stay – foruntately they stayed. They all got drenched but they were drunk enough to stay and have a wicked time, that was awesome. So far, so good!”

Returning to the stage with a DJ show as opposed to the full blown production many fans would have been used to over the years, Basement Jaxx have been able to further indulge in their love for house music and establishing a club vibe for crowds to properly sink their teeth into.

“The live show we did for many years and we put that to bed for a little while,” Ratcliffe explains. “We didn’t want to overexpose it, in a way, and we didn’t want to lose enthusiasm for it. If you do something too much, you lose enthusiasm for it, so we parked that for a while have [since] been DJing. We’ve also been getting on with our lives, you know? I’ve got a daughter and Felix is getting married this summer. We’re working on different projects; I’ve got a blues singer who I’m working with called Geraint Watkins and I’m writing and producing with him. Felix is working too.”

While a new Basement Jaxx album isn’t on the cards for now, Ratcliffe remains excited about the year ahead for the duo. A residency in Ibiza, plus more unique opportunities await. He speaks of the club Mecca of Ibiza particularly fondly.

“There’s no abating with Ibiza, it just keeps going!” he says. “I think there’s more Americans going there now; I love Americans and I love America, so I don’t want to be disparaging about Americans, but there is an element…you don’t want it to become like Vegas, you know? You don’t want it to become like, ‘Fuck yeah man, EDM!’, you know? It’s always had its own world and it’s massive, it’s absolutely huge. It involves tonnes of money and lots of business. Like everything all over the world, it’s expanding and expanding. I hope Ibiza keeps its vibe because it is nice that it’s its own little scene. It’s a privilege that ‘going to the office’ for us, sometimes involves going on a plane and going to Ibiza, it’s such a lovely place to go to. I take things as they come; I just give thanks and appreciate and enjoy it.”

Current and future music projects are keeping both Felix and Simon involved in different realms of the creative side of the industry, though their dynamic when they come together as Basement Jaxx remains tight and in sync as ever. Having been touring and making music for as long as they have now, that’s a relationship not going anywhere.

“We both have varied musical tastes and we’ve done a bit of everything,” Ratcliffe says. “We’ve worked with orchestras, we’ve done film scores, we’ve done art projects, we’ve done underground stuff, we’ve done pop productions…now I’m working with a jazz trio from Prague. I’m also working with this other guy I mentioned before, he’s like an old blues singer; he used to sing with Van Morrison and Paul McCartney. I’m indulging myself in some of that and trying to bring some modern production to what he’s doing. I’m having a go. I don’t know, nobody might ever hear it, but I hope they do. At the same time, I get to go and DJ house music.”

“It’s good to keep things varied,” he adds. “You don’t want things to get to stale, you want to keep yourselves enthusiastic and keep surprising yourself and other people and somehow lead a normal life as well. We’ve all got home lives; I think Felix and I have always had reasonably sensible heads on our shoulders, you know? We’ve not lost ourselves to the world of ego and being excited by all of that. We’ve got our feet on the ground and we see things for what they are; we just make the most of what comes our way.”

Basement Jaxx play their final show in Sydney at Darlinghurst venue Café Del Mar on February 5th as part of their third birthday celebrations. For more information and tickets, head here.