De: Bug Sep 1998
James Lavelle talks with De: Bug magazine about the making of UNKLE's Psyence Fiction album.
Transcript from De: Bug website. Translated from German into English by Google Translate.
UNKLE or what is a finished product? by Gregor Wildermann firstname.lastname@example.org
At first you don't hear anything. Then a soft beep that gets louder and louder. Finally a dark voice: ãSomewhere in space, this maybe all be happening right now! ” This is the beginning of one of the most extraordinary albums of this year and shoots itself into orbit of the mother ship Earth. What James Lavelle and Josh Davies aka DJ Shadow let follow these first seconds could be described as gathering-of-the-tribes and even that doesn't capture the blockbuster character of these 11 pieces, which of course need an intro and an outro. Four years of production resulted in a puzzle of collaborations and alliances, sometimes planned and sometimes accidentally merging the most diverse talents, with Lavelle only transferring production responsibility to Shadow in August '96. Just his skills made it von Lavell contacted musicians and singers such as Mark Hollis (Talk Talk), Thom Yorke (Radiohead), Jason Newstead (Metallica), Mike D. (Beastie Boys), Richard Ashcroft (The Verve) or Damon Gough aka Badly Drawn Boy (Twisted Nerve Label) under this proverbial sonic hat, whereby Shadow then brought in the rapper Kool G Rap. This collection of constellations alone provides days of stories and anecdotes from the singers Alice Temple or Atlantique Khan find their place in every column, no matter how small: One was a former BMX champion and the French are told that she was here for the first time in Sang English. Wow.
In general, all these stories have been said hundreds of times and written by the dozen up to this minute, and only the journalist who can even name Mike D's preferred beer brand, may shine a little cool light on his head. Certainly this media invasion could be a deterrent, but anyone who listens to songs like "Lonely Soul", in which Richard Ashcroft turns his inside out, will quickly forget unnecessary propaganda. There it smells of napalm and blood-smeared bodybags and the strings of Wil Malone (he had also worked on "Unfinished Sympathy") create goosebumps on corners of the body that you couldn't even name. Lavelle himself, at 24 years of age, is certainly a master of empty phrases and standard sentences, somewhere a fashion victim and trend nerd who always has to have the latest and hippest without leaving behind a really personal identity. New G-Force Toys, The Doctor-64 and at home are of course two rare arcade versions of TRON and Star Wars. Few seem to have internalized the Star Wars as much as he does, and yet he has to admit that he only subscribes to the latest toys. He also knows nothing about the unofficial Troops film on the Internet and has only heard of it like that ”.
His name does not appear once in the author credits on the Record sleeve either. But that doesn't change anything about the many extraordinary Mo'Wax records like those by Attica Blues, DJ Krush or Luke Vibert's last LP ãBig Soup ”. His almost insane Headz sampler, the remixes of the Carl Craig classic "Bug in the bassbin" or artists like Deborah Anderson or Andrea Parker all belong in this one universe from which he regularly escapes to Japan because this is his ãmy sanctury, my escape ”is! So we give the monkey sugar and talk about slashes, his label, the internet and Llyla-Blue… ..
De: Bug: For an album with four years of working time it is certainly not easy to find a title. How did you come to an agreement on ãPsyence Fiction 'in the end?
JL: We experimented with different titles and we were never really happy. We both came up with Psyence Fiction, but in its normal spelling it would have been too obviously associated with my preferences for sci-fi stuff. DJ Shadow then came up with the psy notation and expanded this with psy-slash-ence, but I didn't like this slash. That was too intellectual for me, although the title of the album should already be on the level of Stanley Kubrick's "2001". For me this is science fiction and not necessarily wild “Independence Day” shootouts! It could be a record now here, but it could be hopefully in the future or in the past!
De.Bug: If you look back on ãPsyence Fiction '- what is the picture of the finished product?
JL: I'm sure you always panic that something won't work out or that the whole project will go down the drain. But it turned out the way I wanted it to be years ago and Shadow is no different. Without a certain amount of chaos, you can't create anything special and you learn a lesson from each new chaos!
De: Bug: One of the most important pieces of information is the production time. Is it even possible to put that into perspective after these years?
JL: On the one hand, you say to yourself: Yes, it could have been faster, but on the other hand it was a logistically very difficult project and all the musicians involved had their own projects, which of course had priority. It was very difficult for Mike D. to spare some time and the musically most complicated track was the one with Richard Ashcroft.
De: Bug: Has the order or basic idea of Mo'Wax as a label changed for you over the years!
JL: It was always a kind of 'school of thought'! A home for a certain kind of musician. Over the years I have learned a lesson with the label: you should always try to achieve your goal and not make any compromises musically. For Mo'Wax it has meanwhile become more important to further establish the artists who were new at the time and to consolidate their development with more and more records. At some point a label can no longer just sign new artists and that's why it seems like a standstill in places, although that is of course not true.
De: Bug: Many labels react to different styles with a sub-label? What advantages or disadvantages do you see in this?
JL: There was the Excursions series, but we then focused on the main label and its artists, as it would have been a definite disadvantage to distract attention from Mo'wax with other names. Within the next year, however, a lot will change at the label, but I can't reveal anything about that, because otherwise we will be copied again.
De: Bug: You yourself have always pointed out the conceptual connection between the structure of films and this album. What would this UNKLE film look like?
JL: The album is already structured like a film and in places also relates directly to certain films and scenes. I've never made a film myself, so I can only imagine how this will be implemented in reality. For this album you have to imagine the following division of work: I am the director and DJ Shadow writes the film music. Then there are the actors, in this case the participating musicians and an artwork department with an affiliated merchandising company. I take care of all the elements and compose them into a whole.
De: Bug: DJ Shadow lives in California and you in London. How is the work between you and Shadow going?
JL: We both focus on important cornerstones - musically, locally, historically and visually. We talk about records all the time that we always liked or about certain techniques that I would like to use. We're talking about movie scenes and how to turn the mood of those scenes into music. For example when Luke (Skywalker) looks over the desert in "Star Wars" or when Darth Vader boards the diplomatic spaceship. Scenes like this move us and I insisted on some samples that they should be used.
De: Bug: Especially in the cover artwork of Mo'Wax, special things like the visual sampler, the new UNKLE characters or a gallery exhibition for the last Popkomm, you can find your love of detail or other forms of presentation. How do you feel about the internet?
JL: We are currently working on a site.
De: Bug: And the address?
JL: Most likely unkle-dot-com. And for MoWax probably http://www.mo-wax.com.
De: Bug: Is it deceptive or is it difficult to keep your enthusiasm within limits?
JL: I like the internet, but I'm not that keen on it either. I don't want to give everything away on my site and I also think it's better if there are still things to discover on the record. It should be as interactive as possible and that's why we take more time with this website. I also always find it very boring when tons of information are waiting on a site and nothing else happens. For us, the motto: "Hidden Shit, Weird Shit" would apply!
De: Bug: In the press you are often portrayed as a bon vivant who is flying to Tokyo today for some gimmick and who will be playing a haute couture show in Paris tomorrow. What is your daily business like!
JL: Gimmicks are cool! My job consists largely of a lot of phone calls, tapping contacts and chasing things. Kickin'Shit back and forth! Make sense out of the chaos! At the moment 12-15 people work for Mo'Wax in England and some in other countries like Japan or France. But I really have to say that I'm not a boss type. I'm not even very good at running a record company, and that's really not my goal in life.
De: Bug: At the age of 24, are you already in a kind of rewind phase?
JL: It's just not that easy anymore. Somewhere Mo'Wax is my life's work, a kind of identity and something like a baby. At the same time, I'm now a father and want to spend more time with my daughter Llyla-Blue. I also went to clubs for 10 years and staying at home is kind of strange because you were just used to it. But I've also got tired of always having to go to clubs and at the moment I really need a break. On the other hand, the whole business belongs to what you are now, although I'm really not a millionaire or have countless sports cars in the garage. I'm not driven by money, but the reality is this: If you don't ask a certain price for a service within the industry, you are looked down on and you are dismissed as a small label. The success of Mo'Wax has proven that even with the help of a major, independence does not have to be lost and the label continues to exist! although I'm really not a millionaire or have countless sports cars in the garage. I am not driven by money, but the reality is this: If you don't ask a certain price for a service within the industry, you are looked down on and you are dismissed as a small label. The success of Mo'Wax has proven, however, that even with the help of a major, independence does not have to be lost and the label continues to exist! I'm really not a millionaire or have countless sports cars in the garage. I am not driven by money, but the reality is this: If you don't ask a certain price for a service within the industry, you are looked down on and you are dismissed as a small label. The success of Mo'Wax has proven that even with the help of a major, independence does not have to be lost and the label continues to exist!
Transcript on De: Bug website (German)