Orchestral Basement Jaxx show hits Islington
In the blue corner – one of dance music’s biggest acts, who have sold more than three million records and DJ all over the world.
In the red corner – a maverick classical composer and orchestrator who is currently guest conductor of a Dutch orchestra.
Unlike the recent David Haye fight, the outcome of Basement Jaxx Vs Jules Buckley and the Metropole Orkest at the Barbican tonight and tomorrow (July 14 and 15) will be less than certain.
The project, which has been 18 months in the making, comprises orchestral versions of Basement Jaxx songs played by a 70-piece orchestra, a 40-strong choir from Crouch End and a selection of guest vocalists.
It all started when the composer approached Felix Buxton, one half of Basement Jaxx, about a possible meeting of minds.
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He said: “Jules said to us that he had heard our music and the melodies and layers would lend themselves really well to an orchestral arrangement.
“I was all for it, but Simon [Ratcliffe – the other member of Basement Jaxx] was a bit more sceptical. We went for it, though, and the whole thing came together. It was a pretty painless process - Jules was great to work with.”
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The marriage of classical and commercial music can be an unusual courtship however, bearing unloved offspring, a situation both sides were keen to avoid.
“I have heard some orchestral version of pop acts and they sound a bit like a rubbish TV version,” said Felix.
“Then we talked about putting some dirty beats behind the music, but that can sound a bit naff as well– some beautiful strings with a breakbeat behind it. It’s all a bit dated.”
Jules Buckley agrees. He said: “We realised early on that dance beats over orchestra is a bit cliched, so we went for a different approach.
“For example on Raindrops, we decided to make it sound as massive and as anthemic as possible, but with no beats at all – letting the melodies speak for themselves.”
The formula seemed to work in the debut performance and the team are hoping to repeat the success at the Barbican.
“The gig in Einhoven was the only time we have done it so far. We had no idea what people would think, or even who would come, but it pretty much sold out and there was quite a lot of young people. Now we want to take that vibe and put it in the Barbican.”
Jules is also hopeful of a happy homecoming.
“In London, people can be a bit more cynical,” he said. “I think there will be a lot of Basement Jaxx fans there and when they hear these unusual takes, I think they will like it. But if they don’t, that’s fine as well.”