James Lavelle is a pretty busy man these days. And in looking back at what he's achieved or been involved in, it makes you think that he's been pretty busy ever since he started. There's his Mo Wax label (DJ Shadow, Air, South, DJ Krush, Sexy Beast) and lot's and lots of toys and sneakers. He's remixed artists like Massive Attack, Radiohead, Beck, Blur, Oasis and the Dead Prez. But now he's back with a third UNKLE studio album, a live US band tour and a performance as a lead singer.
He's an experimentalist and an auteur of music, fashion and design. He's a world famous DJ with residencies in Europe, Japan and the US. He's been critically acclaimed and been noted for his brilliance but he's also been creatively slighted since the departure of Shadow. What is true is that he has bought something more to the table than he is generally recognized for. He's responsible for releasing DJ Shadow into the world and has constantly pushed live guitars and real rock drums into electronic music. He's a genius at playing with pop culture and has an eye for talent and producing records. Rolling Stone has called him a Warholian figure, but luck has definitely played a deft hand for Mr. Lavelle. For nearly two decades he's been re-interpreting, re-mixing, re-creating, and re-purposing his way as an artist through music.
At his show at the Echoplex in LA last week, he was curled over the microphone and wearing shades as the front man on some of his new tracks. And he's not bad. With his vocal coach praised like a spiritual guide during the show - it seems Lavelle has made the jump from the back to the front. A live UNKLE show is a brave thing. That sound and those haunting collaborations are something pretty hard to live up to. In an age of studio collaborations it's tough to take this show on the road. But UNKLE manage it and there wasn't a turntable in sight for this world class DJ music pusher. What strikes you at a live UNKLE performance is the sheer number of tracks that have been created and that have permeated your consciousness. Reign, Rabbits In A Headlight, Burn My Shadow, Eye 4 An Eye, Lonely Soul and In A State. All of them sweeping and epic creations that represent a pretty big and diverse body of work. Now they're performing live with nine people in the band.
We caught up with Lavelle to discuss his future plans and his continued assault on the world of music, film and TV