Basement Jaxx Shakes Up Dancefloors On 'Rooty'

Since forming in the mid-'90s, the photogenic British duo Basement Jaxx -- Felix Buxton and Simon Ratcliffe -- has prided itself on bucking the status quo of contemporary clubland. Whether producing/r

Since forming in the mid-'90s, the photogenic British duo Basement Jaxx -- Felix Buxton and Simon Ratcliffe -- has prided itself on bucking the status quo of contemporary clubland. Whether producing/remixing for others, manning the turntables in clubs around the world, or creating its own sonic blasts, Basement Jaxx has never relied on one sound or genre to make its case.

"Too many people simply do what's been done before," Ratcliffe explains. "We like to shake things up. Isn't that what pop music's supposed to be about? For us, it's always been about doing something fresh."

And "funky," Buxton interjects. "Dance music has become so linear-which is why we make the kind of music we do. It should be about opening your mind, not closing it."

On its sophomore album -- the scintillatingly sassy "Rooty," which follows in the feisty footwork of 1999's "Remedy" -- Basement Jaxx continues to reinvent house music as it redefines its own sound. Due June 26 on XL Recordings/Astralwerks, "Rooty" overflows with elements of soul, dancehall, funk, hip-hop, gospel, disco, '80s pop, punk, 2-step, electro, and Latin.

On such infectious tracks as "Breakaway," "Jus 1 Kiss," "Broken Dreams," "Where's Your Head At," and "Do Your Thing," the duo seamlessly nicks bits and pieces from such far-flung sources as Chic; Earth, Wind & Fire; Felix de Ypacarai y Sus Paraguayos; Gary Numan; and jazzer Kenny Barron, respectively.

Though decidedly more pop and a tad less influenced by Latin rhythms than its predecessor, "Rooty" is also grittier and more experimental. "When we made the first album, we were questioning every part of the process," Buxton recalls. "This time, we did less questioning. We were confident with who we are and what we wanted to express musically."

Another key difference between the two albums was the recording process, specifically the hours kept in their Brixton-based recording studio in London. "The new album found us working during daylight hours, as opposed to pulling all-nighters like we did for 'Remedy,'" Ratcliffe notes with a laugh. Buxton adds, "Creating music during the daytime definitely affects the overall outcome, with the music alone holding your imagination and feeding your mind."

The critically praised Remedy spawned a trio of No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart -- "Red Alert," "Rendez-Vu," and "Bingo Bango" -- on its way to selling 135,000 units in the U.S., according to SoundScan.

The commercial single for "Romeo," complete with remixes and two non-album bonus tracks ("Bongoloid" and "Camberwell Skies"), is scheduled to arrive June 12. A video for the cut was recently shot in Bombay, India, by director Andy Hutch; it will be sent to MTV, MTV2, local video shows, and Internet outlets later this month.

On the Internet, XLrecordings.com and Astralwerks.com will offer exclusive Basement Jaxx content, news updates, and music streaming.

Throughout June and July, Buxton and Ratcliffe will DJ at clubs and outdoor festivals in the U.S. and Europe. A proper U.S. tour is in the works for the fall, with a "full-on band, audiovisual extravaganzas, and dancers," according to Astralwerks product manager Lawrence Lui. These shows should be a treat, he adds, "since the Jaxx have never done their full, pull-all-the-stops live show in the U.S. before."