Twinkle Rock Festival kicked off last night with Smashing Pumpkins, but an even more interesting line-up unfolds tonight at the Taipei World Trade Center II (台北世貿二館). Nelly Furtado leads the bill and she is supported by British electronic dance music duo, Basement Jaxx.
Basement Jaxx is widely known for their chart-topping music, which dates back to the 90s with songs like Red Alert, Where’s Your Head At and Rendez-Vu. Tonight, however, the group is booked to play a DJ set.
“It’s definitely more unusual for people to hear us DJ,” said Felix Buxton, who is one half of Basement Jaxx, in a telephone interview with the Taipei Times. “I think we are creators and deejaying comes as a part of that umbrella,” he said.
Still, Basement Jaxx’ Taipei stop is an opportunity for concertgoers to experience some genuine London flavor.
“We’re there to make people dance in the way we like to make people dance, and hopefully that meets Taiwanese approval. We play around the world and we play our take on what’s happening in the electronic scene and in modern music, with an emphasis to move the spirit and move the body,” Buxton said.
Although Basement Jaxx got their start deejaying, it’s really not their musical focus today. “I’ve always found it a bit embarrassing to call myself a DJ,” he said, adding, “and sometimes the DJ culture seems small-minded.”
Buxton said he prefers to encompass a wider range of music beyond deejaying, and their musical spectrum reflects that. Their collaborations have run the gamut of different musical acts, from Dizzee Rascal to Vampire Weekend, as well as concerts with a full orchestra and classical compositions of their work with jazz, waltz and opera.
Their scope may be broad, but Basement Jaxx are very meticulous about the music they listen to and the sounds they produce. “Music is an art of trying to move people in a world where there are so many things to distract us and shout at us for attention. And the trick of living in a modern world is learning how to deal with all that noise — and try and create good noise.”
Buxton is unmoved by most contemporary music because of what he sees is its unoriginal and manufactured sound. “Everything sounds the same; it’s kind of like this Euro cheese, hip-hop, pop, rock with about 20 writers on to construct a song and I don’t feel anything. It seems like corporate entertainment and doesn’t really speak to my soul very much.”
While he applauds technology for letting him do in a few minutes what once took him ages, he feels that the spirit of music is lost.
“With technology, that’s all well and good, you can be wowed and dazzled by techniques. But at the end of the day, we’re humans with hearts so we need to be touched.”
Even with so many chart-topping singles under his belt, Buxton prefers the sound of carefully crafted, underground electronic music over anything that might top the charts. He thinks artists like Adele and Little Dragon are some of the few cool artists that have emerged recently, and it’s only a matter of time before dubstep is exploited to its full potential.
Basement Jaxx’s new album is expected out at the end of the year and they’re looking to connect with some interesting local singers or musicians to record samples with while they are in Asia.
But they’re excited about their stay in Taiwan, and have even arrived early to enjoy the city. “It’s going to be really exciting to learn about your world, your culture, and what’s going on and bring our music over,” Buxton said.