Baker's Dozen

Artists discuss the 13 records that shaped their lives

Irrepressible Discoveries: James Lavelle Of UNKLE’s 13 Favourite Albums

With a new album on the way and a much-anticipated set at Brighton's Attenborough Centre at the ready, James Lavelle, the man behind UNKLE and Mo' Wax, takes Elizabeth Aubrey through the 13 records that shaped him

One of the first labels in the UK to release trip hop was Mo’ Wax, founded by James Lavelle in his teens. Not only did it become one of the most influential record labels in the UK, making names for DJ Shadow and Krush amongst others, it was also the label where Lavelle launched his own DJ outfit UNKLE, now celebrating its 25th year in the industry. Bringing a new sound to clubs dominated by Northern Soul and acid, Mo’ Wax is still widely regarded as one of the most pioneering record labels for trip and hip hop in the UK.

Back with a new album, The Road: Part 1, James Lavelle and UNKLE have proven they are the masters of reinvention, going through several diverse incarnations and set ups over the years whilst losing none of the creativity and innovation that characterised their early Mo’ Wax releases. Whilst the record label ended, UNKLE continued a stratospheric rise, collaborating with the likes of Richard File, Josh Homme, Ian Astbury, Chris Goss and Pablo Clements and Radiohead to name a mere few.

Lavelle reveals he struggled narrowing his Baker’s Dozen choices down to just thirteen albums; for an artist which such a diverse and encyclopaedic knowledge of music, this is hardly surprising. “I was thinking, ‘what is the most important moment for you of discovery or something that you’ve heard that changed something for you?’ rather than just being like ‘yeah, I like that album or whatever!’ I could have easily put four Radiohead albums in there, three Public Enemy ones or three Massive Attack ones. Each one I felt needed to be the one that maybe meant the most to [me] or had most impact in my world.”

Lavelle’s choices reveal his extensive tastes, from hip hop to electronica, Motown to rock. They also reveal his sophisticated palate as a teenager with song choices that should have been way beyond his years. As well as revealing his favourite songs, Lavelle also tells us how he discovered them during his early days as a bootlegging DJ in Honest Jon’s and Fabric. Telling us stories of the DJs and artists he met and worked with along the way, Lavelle’s choices make for a fascinating insight into the history of UNKLE and the club scene in the UK.

James Lavelle presents UNKLE Sounds at Brighton’s Attenborough Centre For The Creative Arts on Friday 22 September as part of the Brighton Digital Festival. For tickets and more information, click here.

To begin reading his Baker’s Dozen, click the image below

First Record

The Quietus Digest

Sign up for our free Friday email newsletter.

Support The Quietus

Our journalism is funded by our readers. Become a subscriber today to help champion our writing, plus enjoy bonus essays, podcasts, playlists and music downloads.

Support & Subscribe Today