Published Jul 30, 2014Legendary UK party starters Basement Jaxx are set to release their first studio album in almost five years on August 26 via Atlantic Jaxx/PIAS. Coming complete with energetic and accessible house anthems, Junto will be welcome territory for fans of the duo, who have been busy these past few years with soundtrack work, amongst other things.
Named Junto, meaning "together" in Spanish, the album is marked by Basement Jaxx's trademark upbeat positivity and features over 50 minutes of new material, including songs with titles such as "Power to the People," "We Are Not Alone" and the uplifting "Never Say Never" — thankfully not a cover of the Justin Bieber song — which features vocals from a young British singer named ETML.
"We wanted a title to sum up the spirit of the album," the duo's Simon Ratcliffe tells Exclaim! "And in English all the words we came up with seemed really kind of dull or insipid."
Felix Buxton adds, "It's good that's it's not in English. It makes people think a bit further and togetherness is about putting yourself 'over there' and seeing how it could be from a different position."
One notable aspect of Junto, and the work of Basement Jaxx in general, is how their work stands in direct contrast to the current UK electronic music scene, which is currently fixated on broodiness and arty experimentation, as opposed to the straight-up, joyous house anthems of Junto.
"England is obsessed with cynicism and the idea of 'what's hot and what's not', which is a nonsense," Buxton offers. "Culturally we're obsessed with this idea, and I think we need to move on from it as it's a very narrow perspective. We use it as a way of feeling superior over someone else, and it's as bad as any old-fashioned snobbery. I think it's time to get over our cynicism and strip away the layers of cultural bullshit, the way Obama's doing with government in the U.S."
Uplifting music is one way to break the prevalent cycle of cynicism and ironic detachment, explains Buxton. "I think the album is making a positive stand and that's where we were with our first album, Remedy. It was always about that mindset, which basically came from the beginning of house music. We're all struggling, we're all suffering and we all want to be happy. It can sound fluffy but it's true — it's about getting over ego basically."
As per Basement Jaxx tradition, almost all of the vocalists on the album are rising acts that the duo have plucked from obscurity, one notable exception being NYC rapper/performance artist Mykki Blanco. By far the darkest composition on the album, "Buffalo" was also the only track where the vocalist wasn't physically present for recording in the duo's London studio.
"That was through a friend of ours who was working with Mykki in L.A.," says Buxton, "and he never actually finished the song. He was meant to do a second verse but he disappeared into the desert, which seemed appropriately spiritual!"
Other guests on the album include UK writer/actor/singer Shakka — on "Rock This Road" — and Canadian fans will also be curious about the song "Sneakin' Toronto," which is named for Toronto resident DJ Sneak who appears on the track.
This summer, Basement Jaxx are busy with select live dates, as well as a monthly DJ residency in Ibiza, after which they hope to bring the Junto live show to North America but no dates are set as yet. You can see all their currently scheduled dates here.