Dizzee Rascal cuts a remarkably fresh figure as he saunters across the car park of the Camden film studio on this nippy October morning. Looking sharp, despite zero sleep and a head full of skunk, he enters the vast acid green room and scans the chaos.
Roasting under hot white lights he sees a voluptuous belly dancer, a buxom cheerleader straddling an invisible rocket, two guardsmen, a dancing younger version of himself (Mini-Dizzee), some more jiving kids, and a phalanx of production assistants madly conducting the surreal melee.
This bizzare scene is the filming of the video for the new Basement Jaxx single, ‘Lucky Star‘, on which Dizzee Rascal guests. Or, as Mini-Dizzee – 12-year-old Sheldon from Walthamstow – onto whose body Dizzee’s head will later be digitally grafted, chirps, “It’s a strange space party at the end of universe!”
“I ain’t seen nothing like this before,” says Dizzee, who’s amazed the doubters on set by arriving on time and will patiently deliver his line to camera with perky professionalism. “It’s good to spit on something totally different, go nothing like that anywhere else, so it’s an experience for me. And being in the studio with them (the Jaxx), they got mad doing crazy stuff. They get you enjoying being in the studio again, more creative, get your juices flowing again.”
While peers like the Chemical Brothers, The Prodigy and Underworld lumber on oblivious to their general irrelevance, Basement Jaxx have developed into a staggeringly versatile outfit. Where once they were perceived as strictly disco, now, with ‘Kish Kash‘, they’ve produced a record that’s as rock-raw as The White Stripes’ ‘Elephant‘, as peculiarly English as The Streets’ ‘Original Pirate Material‘, as deliciously modern as the latest Neptunes joint, and as instantly addictive as any Richard X pop pile-up.
Aside from Dizzee Rascal, who barked atop the rough rave of ‘Lucky Star‘ before he’d even signed to XL recording, third album ‘Kish Kash‘ features vocal contribution from evergreen punk heroine Siouxsie Sioux. ‘NSync’s JC Chasez and The Bellray‘ Lisa Kekaula – a diverse selection that complements the LP’s pick’n’mix sonic agenda. More so than ‘Remedy‘ and its massively successful 2001 follow-up ‘Rooty‘, ‘Kish Kash‘ deftly eludes futile genre classification and posits the Jaxx right back where they started, in 1994, back in their own crazy Brixton milieu.
“We did go off into our own little world this time,” says Simon Ratcliffe over a fry-up in an upmarket Camden caff. “We always felt we had contemporaries but for this album we felt, ‘Well, what are we now?’ We had nothing to compare ourselves with.”