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Jaxx Scratch Back with 'Crazy Itch Radio'

Twelve years ago, Britain's Basement Jaxx couldn't get a record label interested in releasing the group's first EP. Fast forward to 2005, when their Singles CD sold more than 800,000 copies worldwide.

Now Felix Buxton and Simon Ratcliffe, the producers and artists behind the Jaxx sound, are back with a new CD, Crazy Itch Radio.

Once upon a time, music was made by real bands playing actual instruments and the producer was a shadowy, behind-the-scenes knob twiddler. But now that computers can re-create the sound of just about any instrument, producers are taking center stage -- and taking over the music world.

"There's definitely a whole breed of new music," says Buxton. "In America, you've got people like Kanye West and the Neptunes, OutKast -- they're all artists in their own right, but they're also all producers."

Compared with traditional songwriting, the Basement Jaxx approach to creating music might appear to work backward. For example, on "Hush Boy," the album's first single, Buxton and Ratcliffe teamed up with vocalist Vula Malinga to create the song's melody over a basic track.

Once it was recorded, the Basement Jaxx kept only Vula's vocal and rebuilt all the music under her voice from scratch. The band says this approach allows for a tremendous amount of freedom to explore different sounds.

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Christian Bordal
Christian Bordal is a Norwegian-American (via Australia) musician, radio producer, and freelance music journalist who contributes regularly to Day to Day. He's very good at making faces and making a fool of himself, and he once impressed his NPR editors with a drunken recitation of the gibberish poem "Jabberwocky." He briefly considered launching a career performing at children's parties, but he finds his own children to be trouble enough. In addition to this list of remarkable professional accomplishments, he is a producer at member station KCRW in Los Angeles.