Interview with

James Lavelle from Unkle

Everything James Lavelle has created and initiated has been driven by the same irrepressible sense of curiosity and an incor ruptible willingness to take risks. The music released today under the banner of UNKLE is very different from early UNKLE records. The spirit is the same. Unkle are a British musical outfit founded in 1994 by school friends James Lavelle and  Tim Goldsworthy. Originally categorised as trip hop, the group once included producer DJ Shadow and have employed a variety of guest artists and producers. The UNKLE crew has been populated by a bunch of serious players who have made a massive impact on the UK music scene and beyond. 2014 promises to be a land mark year for independent music svengali James Lavelle. Coinciding with his 40th birthday he will launch Mo’ Wax21: Urban Archaeology – a mind blowing Kickstarter resourced exhibition and a lavish Rizzoli published book to celebrate the 21st birthday of Mo’ Wax records, the label he launched as a teenager. It will also see him take on Meltdown on London’s South Bank. Joining a long list musical luminaries such as Yoko Ono, Ornette Coleman, Massive Attack, Nick Cave, John Peel, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, Patti Smith, amongst others, is according to James, “one of the proudest moments of my life in music so far.” 

Facts

1: We finished “Where Did The Night Fall” (UNKLE’s new record, out May 14), pressed it up, manufactured all the promos – and then decided we didn’t like it anymore and destroyed all the promos. I kept some of them, though. They’re locked up in a box.

2: We worked on about 30 songs for the record, and for every one of them we recorded an hour’s worth of drums.

3: Listen to the tracks “Nowhere” and “Heavy Drug” on the instrumental CD (part of the limited edition of “Where Did The Night Fall”) – they are completely different from the album versions.

Questions

What is the biggest inspiration for your music?
The emotional experience through life and the things that I see. Any of my records is always like a diary of a certain period of time. I’m also very visually inspired, whether it be arts or people. Specifically, in regard to my new record, my daughter becoming a teenager was a huge influence on my work.

How and when did you get into making music?
I got into making music when I was 18 and was working with Tim Goldsworthy (now of DFA’s). The first remix we ever did was for a Jazz/ HipHop group called Ronny Jordan. It wasn’t very good, so it never got released.

What are your 5 favourite albums of all time?
1. Massive Attack – “Blue Lines”
2. Beastie Boys – “Check Your Head”
3. The Stone Roses – “The Stone Roses”
4. Public Enemy – “Yo! Bum Rush the Show”
5. Vangelis – “Blade Runner” (OST)

What do you associate with Berlin?
Electronic music. Very classic albums by Iggy Pop, David Bowie, Depeche Mode, U2. I also very much associate it with the night.

What’s your favourite place in your town?
Hampstead in London. I love the architecture and the space. It’s like the countryside, but it is right in the city.

If there was no music in the world, what would you do instead?
I would still be an artist, something in the visual arts. Or I would be doing Kung-Fu.

What was the last record you bought?
Doves – “The Best Of Doves (The Places Between 2000 – 2010)”

Who would you most like to collaborate with?
Robert Plant. And Chris Isaak.

What was your best gig (as performer or spectator)?
DJing for the Beastie Boys’s comeback gig and at the Opening of the Womb club in Tokyo. One of the best live gigs I’ve ever seen was Radiohead during their “OK Computer” tour.

How important is technology to your creative process?
It is essential, but I like to use technology rather than technology use me.

Do you have siblings and how do they feel about your career?
I work with both of them. Henry, my middle brother, creates all the packaging of my releases. And my little brother Aidan works with me in the studio and does a lot of the classical arrangements.

Our Favourites: Heaven  | Natural selection |  Reign

Links: Soundcloud |  unkle.com

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