The Herald Sun 12 February 2004

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The Herald Sun

James Lavelle is interviewed on page 109 of the Hit section of the Australian newspaper The Herald Sun on 12 February 2004. He discusses the latest UNKLE album, Never Never Land and his plans for another album and possibly setting up a new record label.


man from UNKLE, by Cyclone Wehner

The DJ who remixed Metallica is contemplating a new indie label, writes CYCLONE WEHNER

THE UK's James Lavelle created an albatross with his production vehicle UNKLE.

The London DJ had already established himself as one of dance music's youngest and most successful entrepreneurs with the cutting-edge label Mo' Wax when he started touting the album project.

Lavelle wanted to stretch himself.

He formed a production partnership with California's DJ Shadow (Josh Davis), who masterminded the classic Endtroducing LP on Mo' Wax -- and they completed the groundbreaking Psyence Fiction.

The album pre-empted Radiohead's fusion of electronic music and cool progressive rock, albeit with a hip-hop twist. UNKLE roped in guests like Radiohead's Thom Yorke, Richard Ashcroft and Beastie Boy Mike D. But critics didn't know what to think of it.

Shadow quit UNKLE after Psyence Fiction to resume his solo endeavours and Lavelle recast him. The Brit united with longtime DJ buddy Richard File. The two played Melbourne at the 2002 Livid fest.

Last year UNKLE issued the well received Never, Never, Land album with cred input from Brian Eno. The album lost the baggage which hampered the underrated Psyence Fiction.

"We're not a trendy young cool band any more, which is fine," Lavelle says breezily.

Still, UNKLE have lately become the first dance producers to remix Metallica -- turning their hand to Frantic.

For Lavelle, working with File is different to Shadow -- they're in the same city for a start.

"It is different because Josh works in a much more isolated sense and working with Rich, it's a very traditional dynamic of working in the studio," he says.

"That's why I suppose making this record (Never . . .) was a slightly more enjoyable process. You're focused in London, you live near each other, you're spending every day together just going through ideas, going into the studio -- it's very spontaneous. It's much more of an organic way to make a record and that's really how I feel this record was -- it's a much more organic record than the last one. It's not so conceptual. We've been best friends for years, we know our reference points very well. It just worked. It's an easy way to work in the studio. He's got a lot more of a confident swagger about him than me, Rich, and he's a very positive person, so he's always pushing in that way, whereas I'm a bit darker and a little bit more moody and kinda get my head into a tizz quite a lot. So that dynamic works very much to create the sound that we do."

Lavelle, who took time out after Psyence Fiction to re-evaluate his career, is not sure what UNKLE will do next. There will be a third LP but not on Island Records. Lavelle is contemplating starting a new indie label.

"I'd say at the moment I'm probably in the biggest transition point in my life," he says. "I've actually just taken the last two months off. I'm not working with Island any more. I'm in a really unusual space at the moment where I'm totally free of everything. But it's good."

Never, Never, Land (Universal) out now. UNKLE, Forum, Sat, $56.40, Ticketek.

Copyright 2004 / Herald Sun