The Age 4 September 1998
In September 4 1998's The Age newspaper, James Lavelle was interviewed about the forthcoming UNKLE album and Mo' Wax. A photo of James Lavelle and DJ Shadow was included with the caption "Wonder Boy James Lavelle and his friend DJ Shadow: they're the heart of the UNKLE project."
Wax in your ear by Eli Greenblat.
AMES Lavelle, the 24 year-old DJ and record label owner, reels off a wide-ranging list of the music he is listening to: "Right now on my table there is DJ Magic Mike, the Beastie Boys' Hello Nasty cassette" next to Cornelius, Marvin Gaye and a disco-funk hardcore band, he says.
It's Lavelle's ability to combine seemingly unmixable music that has characterised his label Mo Wax, and one of the most eagerly anticipated releases of the year - the UNKLE album project.
Mo Wax, meaning more vinyl, reflects the culture in which Lavelle grew up. Since its creation in 1992 the label has quickly established a reputation for fusing genres as rich and diverse as jazz, instrumental hiphop, electro, techno and African-influenced drum and bass beats.
The UNKLE album was three years in the making, and its list of contributors reads like a musical Who's Who of the 1990s. They include the Verve's Richard Ashcroft, Thom Yorke from Radiohead, the Beastie Boys' Money Mark plus DJ Shadow, Sukia, DJ Krush, Atlantique Khanh, Kool G Rap and Metallica's Jason Newstead.
"I've always wanted to bring together the different types of music that I've grown up on, to entwine them to create something that people my age can get into", he says from his London home.
The talent drawn to Mo Wax is a testament to the respect with which Lavelle is regarded in the industry after nearly 10 years on the London DJ scene.
Lavelle started spinning records in an Oxford club at the age of 14. Only four years later he borrowed 1000 pounds from his boss at Honest Jon's Records to set up Mo Wax.
At the heart of Lavelle's label pumps the desire to see vinyl throw off the "endangered species" tag and make a comeback as the best way to listen to contemporary music.
"Vinyl is just a beautiful thing, really. It captures the whole world I come from as a DJ. I like to be able to hold and feel and really touch things and vinyl is great for that."
Although his style has been called jungle and trip-hop, Lavelle adopts a scattergun approach when asked to describe it.
"I don't know myself really how to describe it, because each artist comes from a different background and the label really just represents contemporary music.
"Mo Wax is a pretty non-genre-specific label in the sense that Money Mark is kind of low-fi pop, DJ Shadow is hop-hop, Andrea Parker is essentially from a techno background, Sukia from an alternative background."
The quality of artists associated with the UNKLE album reflects Lavelle's ability to identify and attract talent, and when signing up bands he looks for a wide spectrum of qualities.
"For me, it is about the spirit of an artist or band. Ultimately, it's about creativity, it's about innovation and their personal stance and attitude towards music."
'Psyence Fiction' is out through Polydor. Is it worthy of the hype? See Patrick Donovan's review, page 8.
For info on the Australian Dj Championships plus clubbing and dance news, turn to page 15