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1997 Tokion-2.png
Issue 2, March 1997

In issues #2 of Tokion magazine Nigo began interviewing his friends, with the first interview being with James Lavelle. The issue was published March 1997.[1]


General Talk Ape Shall Never Kill Ape #1: Mo' Wax's James LaVelle

Welcome to the Nigo interview. A space where, Bathing Apes Designer Nigo San interviews the people that he admires. The first guest in the Nigo Interview series is James Lavelle (Mo' Wax Founder). At only 22 years of Age James has created one of the largest and most influential alternative labels in the world. James sees record making not only as creating good sounds, but a total system, where design, culture and art blend into a single idea.

text: Nigo photo: Hanayuki Higashi NIGO: What's happened to Mo Wax records in 1996?

James Lavelle : It's been the most important year for us because of the Shadow record (an instrumental hip-hop record). It defined the style of music that Mo Wax has become famous for since its beginning in 1992. The Shadow record kind of let's us move on, it's like we've finally gotten what we've been talking about for so long out of our system and put it all into a single record. It's been a crazy year, perhaps the maddest one I've ever had as far as releasing records go, hopefully next year it will slow down again.

NIGO: What do you think about the spray can artist Futura? And what kind of projects have you done together?

JAMES: The idea of Mo' Wax is about culture and lifestyle, I think in the same way as Apes. Apes is a clothing company but it gets involved in all sorts of things related to music: events, design and live shows in this aspect Mo Wax is also very similar. When I grew up hip-hop was about graffiti, the way you looked and talked and in the late 80s and 90s these things got lost. But when I started a label I wanted to bring these things back, not by redoing the same thing, but by bringing back the idea of these things I remembered from the past. I really like art, especially abstract art, and I love spray can art. And to me Futura is the greatest! To me Futura's art and attitude are very complementary to the Mo Wax label.

NIGO: Can you talk a bit about fashion? What do you think of Ape?

JAMES: Terrible! The worse! (laughing). No, I think it's great. I think around the world there's a few people that do different things (e.g. music, art, fashion) but have very similar attitudes. Japan for me is Nigo and in America it's Mike D.. Everywhere you go there's somebody young, but their in a position where their changing things. What Ape does is similar to what we do; you take things you like, you re-put it together and you bring it back out. To me Ape is the most interesting street clothing label, you want things that are subtle, but the details are just a little different. What I like most is just the attitude of Ape.

NIGO: I'm a Planet of the Apes collector and James I know you're a Star Wars collector. What sort of items do you have in your collection?

JAMES: When I was a kid I used to have fucken every Star Wars toy. By the time I was 13 I wanted to start buying records and really got into records and I sold all my Star Wars toys in order to buy records. Then when I made money from the record label I wanted to start buying the Star Wars back. I just like getting the most interesting things you can. I've got some custom toys, that are just one offs, like of the Cantina Band. I've also got stuff made in Prague, Italy, Spain and France. I just bought the Huffy Speeder Bike which is from return of the Jedi; they only made like a 100 of them.

NIGO'S Friend: Do you ride it?

JAMES: No (laughing)

NIGO: We started the interview with Mo Wax 1996. In conclusion what do you think of Mo Wax 1997 and how will you approach the Japanese market?

JAMES: Most people just want to market it as a dance record label, but it's not a dance record label. No one took any attention to packaging or details or setting up interesting events. When I first came here I hooked up with DJ Krush, Takemura, UFO, Mondo Grosso, and all these bands that are signed to labels. So because, of their success, I'm in a position to do what I really want to do with Mo Wax in Japan. I want to work with more alternative Japanese artists and bring them into Mo Wax. I like people like the Boredoms, Takagi Kan, Yang Tomita Music is the biggest cultural force there is, and their are a lot of big English and American bands, but their aren't very many big Japanese bands, if I could bring some good bands back to England it would be a great chance to educate people.


External Links

Interview on Tokion Website (Archived)

Tokion #2 contents on Tokion Website (Archived)