One of the most iconic names in house music of the past 25 years, Basement Jaxx, returns to Dubai for a headline gig at Beach Club of the Year, Zero Gravity, on Friday October 19.
Ahead of their beachfront gig this weekend we caught up Felix Buxton, with one half of the duo, to chat about Dubai, the resurgence of their early hits, new music, and coming tongue slapped by a camel…
Having performed at Inner City Zoo for New Year’s Eve 2017/2018, and also some of the city’s top nightlife destinations of yesteryear, like Nasimi Beach, what keeps them coming back year in, year out?
“We keep coming back because they keep asking us to come!” jokes Buxton. “Our summer has just finished, and the season in Ibiza goes later and later every year, so it’s now time to catch up with friends and family. We were DJing at a lot of festivals and Ibiza, people seemed to be enjoying themselves, and it was all good.”
Buxton says Basement Jaxx have been seeing a resurgence in the popularity of their oldest, and arguably most popular, hits. With truly epic dance anthems like Red Alert, Good Luck, Rendezvous and, of course, Where’s Your Head At forming the backbone of their early success, 2018’s audiences (both young and old) are seeing these classic tracks returning to dancefloors across the world.
“It’s quite weird because we were doing all that back in 1995, 1999, 2000 etcetera, but it doesn’t seem to have moved on at all,” says Buxton. “Well, it has, but it seems to have moved back to those early days again.”
So how do these veterans of the scene look at those classic tracks? Dusty old records, or works of art?
“I’m happy that it can bring joy to people and connect with people, and that it still feels relevant to them, then it’s brilliant,” says Buxton. “We’re seeing 18 year olds reacting to this the same way as guys and girls in their mid-40s. It’s great because it means it’s passed the test of time.”
Does that mean we’ll be treated to a bunch of the classics on Friday night on the beach at Zero Gravity?
“You’re always looking to make that connection with the audience, and every gig comes differently to a certain extent, and the fact that the world changes every day, the weather changes, moods change and people change and shift. So I suppose when you’re playing music you go with those tides.”
Slightly vague answer, but the general vibe Buxton emits suggests that if the crowd is calling for it, Basement Jaxx will deliver… in their own way.
“We want to give people a deeper insight into what music is, and being human in essence – that’s all DJs are, people who give perspective on what music is. Sometimes they have to listen a bit longer before getting to the punchline.”
From that, we’re expecting a night crammed with the big hits, but in varying forms – some blended into other tunes, some teased for a while, and hopefully a couple of bangers just spontaneously dropped. Will there be any new stuff on show in Dubai?
Unlikely, but there could be some new offerings on the way soon, Buxton hints.
“We’re working on a couple of new ideas, which we haven’t done for a while,” he teases.
Ideas for Basement Jaxx? Could it be a return to the dizzying heights of 2000-2004, when the duo took their live act to top of the bill on both the Main Stage and the Other Stage of Glastonbury on two occasions?
“Yes, they will be new ideas for Basement Jaxx,” Buxton says while we struggle to contain our bubbling excitement. “Since everything seems to be back where we started, we’d like anything new we do to relate to our original music – Junto [the band’s 2014 release] was a bit softer and a bit new age, but with this we’ll do some new tracks that are just a bit more straight-forward. But we’ll see what happens, we want it to be meaningful.”
For now, we’ll have to make do with what’s lining up to be an epic set on the Dubai coast this Friday, taking place at Zero Gravity.
But before we leave Buxton to, as it turns out, leave to discuss said plans for new music with co-Jaxxer Simon Ratcliffe, we play a quick game about his experiences in Dubai to date.
Kite Beach or Ski Dubai?
“It depends what time of year! I was shocked the third time I came Dubai, and I came at a very hot time of year. I remember very clearly being excited about running into the sea, and feeling like it was a hot bath. Both in a day probably – skiing in the morning, then go to the beach. The ying and the yang.”
Shawarma or falafel?
“Falafel. Straight away. Love them.”
Stand-up paddleboarding or flyboarding?
“I’d have to try flyboarding [water jetpacks]. Yeah, that sounds amazing.”
Friday brunch or a night brunch?
“You know what, probably neither. I think gorging one’s self is actually a bit distasteful to be honest [laughs], so I’d spend the day going round the old souks. I’m not really into those big eating and drinking things!”
Dune bashing or a camel ride?
“I’ve not been out to the desert properly, I love the romance of the deep desert. The last time I was in Dubai I met a camel. I’ve heard their noses are very soft, so I stroked his nose and thought ‘ah, this is lovely’, so I went in for a nuzzle, then its huge tongue with saliva all over it whipped me across the face and it absolutely stank! I’d probably rather go and take a camel for a meal to be honest!” [laughs]
Desert Safari or dinner at At.mosphere?
“Desert Safari, understanding the culture of places like Dubai really fascinates me."
Skydive Dubai or XLine in Dubai Marina?
“It would have to be a skydive. I’ve done it before in Australia, and I love it because really you’re embracing death. When you’re stood on the edge of the plane it’s an absolutely incredible moment, and it’s a good thing to go through really. I could experience that again, especially as the last time I did it I saw a circular rainbow – which was a real moment – so I could do that again.”
Basement Jaxx live at Zero Gravity. Fri Oct 19 8pm-3am. Skydive Dubai Drop Zone, Dubai Marina (04 399 0009).