CULTURE

Father of trip-hop, big-beat to DJ at Ejekt on Saturday

A child prodigy at 15 and successful entrepreneur at 19, James Lavelle ranks as one of the most significant figures on the UK’s contemporary music circuit. A DJ, producer, songwriter, lyricist and musician, Lavelle has already gone down in music history as the «father of trip-hop and big-beat.» Just days ahead of his appearance at the Ejekt Festival in Athens, Lavelle shared his thoughts about various topics, including the music industry, the precarious situation in Iran, leading clubs around the world, as well as his greatest anxiety: being a musician and father at once. You’re a musician, songwriter and DJ, but to fans you’ll always be the «Boss at Mo’Wax,» the record company that changed the scene in electronic music and hip-hop in the UK. What qualities do you think a music industry producer must possess to be successful? He or she must love music with a passion, not lose enthusiasm and independence, fully sacrifice life for the job and always aim for unique musical products. These are half the necessary traits. Brightness and insight at an entrepreneurial level are also needed. I obviously didn’t possess these traits, as Mo’Wax shut down due to financial difficulties, despite the label’s artistic success. Is it possible for an independent label to survive in the year 2006? Of course it is. Take the most successful record label in the UK today, Domino, for example, which is an independent label. Conditions are favorable, which is why I’ve established a new label. What’s the reason for the existence of a band like UNKLE for a musician known for his individual work? That’s what my band was called when I was 16. I always like to hide behind various monikers… Rock elements were the dominant element in UNKLE’s work. After all, you have collaborated with Thom Yorke of Radiohead and 3D of Massive Attack… Our musical culture passes through country, heavy metal, punk, and acid house. At the studio, there’s a hard drive with about 10,000 albums, a great deal of which is psychedelic stuff and hip-hop. My father had a big collection, which is where my first listening experiences stemmed from – Stevie Wonder, Miles Davis, Deep Purple, Cream. He was a musician, and at one point played with the Dubliners. You put up a real battle with Massive Attack against the war in Iraq by staging concerts and organizing other events. Do you think there will be another war, this time in Iran? I’m totally against any invader of any country. You can’t change a people’s culture by force. People can change their lives themselves. But what’s the situation in Iran? We possess the technology for victory in the battlefield. Iran fears that, around it, Israel and India possess nuclear arms. Amid a field of specific and out-of-control rivalries, mad political establishments are feverishly contesting under the watchful eye of the maddest political establishment of all – that of the USA. And all this is happening at a time when we possess tremendous experience and knowledge about our world. Can the ordinary person offer any resistance against all this? It’s an obligation. After all, history is shaped by common people and the actions they take. We must have faith in our powers… A few years ago, I saw you play at a London club, Fabric. Which clubs do you prefer for your DJ appearances? Fabric, for sure, Tokyo’s Womb, without a doubt, and, finally, Zouk in Singapore. You’ve played a lot in Athens… Of course, to very enthusiastic crowds. Except for the most recent visit, at a club that was too rock-oriented, which made both me and the crowd feel kind of subdued. What do you think you’ll be remembered for 50 years from now? I’d like them to say that Lavelle changed certain things, and did it his own way, that he offered something to music and art. Above all, I want my daughter to say I was a good father. You don’t know how difficult it is to have a young child while always traveling in faraway places. More on Lavelle Born in Oxford in 1974, James Lavelle began working as a DJ at clubs around his hometown at the age of 15. Four years later, he had already made an impact as an entrepreneur with Mo’Wax, a pioneering record label behind the trip-hop and big-beat dance scenes. Lavelle also formed UNKLE and released an album titled «Psyense Fiction» in 1998, which included guest appearances from Ian Brown (Stone Roses) and Mike D (Beastie Boys). He continued DJing at major clubs around the world, while also producing and remixing for top-selling acts such as Garbage, Verve, and Massive Attack, and recording his own dance music. In 2003, UNKLE – with Massive Attack’s 3D and Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme on board – released an album titled «Never, Never, Land.» A new album, «The Future is Unwritten,» is expected from the act this summer. Lavelle will be appearing at the Ejekt festival’s Dance Stage as part of a bill which also includes Miss Kittin and French DJ Vitalic. The Rock Stage will feature the festival’s headline act, New Order, as well as Hooverphonic, Radio 4 and local band Film.