The Man from Mo'Wax (2016) - full transcript

A pulsating documentary charting the extraordinary life and career of underground DJ icon, music producer and global trip hop mogul, James Lavelle. Starring DJ Shadow, 3D of Massive Attack, Futura, Ian Brown, Grandmaster Flash and Josh Homme.

The thing that I've learnt most,
and I would...

I would always recommend to anybody
starting out in this business

is total and utter control.

And to be able to retain
as much control as you humanly can

is the... the...
the greatest power that you have.






Good Evening citizens of Earth,

or any other planet in the Solar System.

Tonight on your telescreen,
we will see and hear, first-hand,

one of man's
most momentous space adventures...


...a boy will go to the moon.

JAMES: I got everything
you could ever dream of.


Probably made a million
by the time I was 21.

You don't ever think
it's gonna end.

I'd love to sell a hundred million records.

I was always a pushy motherfucker.

MUSIC: "Return Of The Original Art Form"
by Major Force

# Come on. Let's do it! #

# Alright! Hey hey hey hey, hey hey! #

# Ready ready, ready ready, ready #

# Ready to roll! #

# Ready ready, re... re... #

MUSIC: "The Planets, Op. 32,
Venus, The Bringer Of Peace" by Gustav Holst

JAMES: I grew up in Oxford,
and I've always been surrounded by music.

My grandfather was a singer
on Radio Two.

My father played with The Dubliners,

which are a very influential
Irish folk band.

My grandmother was the first woman
to be in the Irish Philharmonic.

She taught me to play the Cello...

and then I broke her heart
by getting into Kung Fu.


JINI: The friends that he went
to primary school with

didn't seem to carry on as the friends
that he had in secondary school.

He was too...

He was too sort of unusual.

He was very unusual.

I think that happens.

They got in an educational psychologist
to do tests on him.

On the imaginative artistic score,
he was actually off the chart

because he was so high.

Reasoning and logic,
he wasn't doing very well on that.

I mean REALLY wasn't doing
very well on that,

but this complete imbalance.

His dad went off.

James probably saw it as very abrupt.

JAMES: They... They got divorced
and it was horrific.

It was like a war.

He was absolutely distraught.

JAMES: I remember seeing
this mad other universe.

MUSIC: "Check Yo Self"
remix by The Message

The first record I bought was The Message.

# It's like a jungle sometimes
It makes me wonder #

# How I keep from going under #

Seeing hip hop,

it was like seeing something alien,
you know.

It was science fiction.

# A child is born with no state of mind #

# Blind to the ways of mankind #

# God is smiling on you
but he's frowning too #

# Because only God knows
what you gon' do #

JAMES: I was bunking off school
to go and hang out,

to play tapes with my friends.

It was trying to find a family identity
because your family had broken.

PRESENTER: Grandmaster Flash,
why do they call you Flash?

What it is, is the way that I mix,
I mix a little faster than the average DJ.

Hip hop is poetry to the beat of music.

We used to isolate the particular section,
for example, the drummer's solo.


That's been the template,
turntable science,

what I came up with in the early seventies.

Said yeah.

Alright! Yeah!

JAMES: The whole sound system thing
was what I was really into.

The Wild Bunch...


They were my idols.

3D the graffiti artist,
the collaborations, the design.

They were just the coolest


# It's the Massive Attack
You're on the right track #

JAMES: The Wild Bunch,
which then became Massive Attack.

Massive Attack,

it was so influential for me
they way that they were as a band.

I wanted to be like that.

Telling your Mum that you
wanted to be a DJ...


...was, "DJ? No".

He asked me if he could have all of his...
his pocket money for a year.

Don't ask me why I said OK,
but he went to buy these turn tables,

then he started having gigs in pubs.

He was 14.

How did he get to work in pubs
at that age? I mean...

JAMES: At 15, 16,
basically just spent most of the time

skiving off school to just go into London
to get records, you know.

All your life was about
was buying tunes, that was it.

He'd had enough.

He left and finished,
and said to me "I'm going to London".

JAMES: I attempted to study
some business studies

but just left college
to work in a record store.

I started getting a reputation
for selling certain DJs' records.

CHARLIE: I'm hearing
about this amazing record shop,

and then I'm hearing, like,
there's a guy in there called James.

He's into hip hop, jazz...

He's collecting records.

He's into obscure,
kind of, Japanese hip hop.

So I'm gonna go to this place
and I'm gonna see who this dude is.

As I walk in, there's this kid there
with the glasses on,

and I'm just like, yo.
This is James Lavelle, yeah?

I was just like, this is the kid?
Of course it's him!

You know, and so, you know,
we bonded over music,

and we just kind of developed
this relationship from buying records.

JAMES: There was a scene going on
and I gotta infiltrate that,

trying to get in there somehow,
trying to make your own mark.

# You dig? #

CAMERAMAN: Give me a word.
- A word.

PAUL: Straight No Chaser
was a magazine of world jazz and jive,

and what was emerging
out of the underground.

It provided a hub around which
a global community evolved.

James came in and had a chat,

and he was this 17-year-old kid
who was hip hop "style-y."

He said, "You need me".

And Swifty, who was sat
working next to me,

turned round after he'd gone
and said "Get him in".

SWIFTY: And so James came in
to say you need me

because you need a column with new music,

and you could tell he wasn't, you know...
He... He wasn't a fly-by.

PAUL: We just chucked him in
at the deep end basically,

and gave him a column,
which was Mo' Wax.

# Sing it! Sing it! #

PAUL: The column was really good
for him, actually

because, basically, it was a vehicle

which was gonna go out to a lot
of different DJs around the world.

"Talkin' Loud" by Incognito

GILLES: I was getting
a little bit of a name for myself

as a sort of, you know,
musical, kind of, archaeologist,

pulling out the tunes
for that new generation.

# Talkin' loud #

# And saying somethin' #

# 'bout the way we live our lives today #

I DJ at a place called Dingwalls,

doing a club, Talkin' Loud,

which included everybody
who was into house music

and had been raving the night before
or who was just into jazz tunes.

The greatest thing about that club,
it really brought everybody together.

# There's a new generation
taking up the challenge #

There was people like James Lavelle,

coming through with a new spirit.

I really wanted to kind of
hook up with him

and to start something fresh and new,

and that's really how the club,
That's How It Is, appeared.

# That, That, Th-that's how it is! #

PAUL: James sharing the turntables
with Gilles,

that was quite a big step for him.

It was a barometer
of how things would change,

finding what were the links
between different genres of music.

GILLES: You know, joining the dots,
connecting things.

You know, everyone used to go.
It was a real mad mix of people.

GILLES: That was a test for him,
and he came through it really well,

and it was an amazing time.

You know, all these records were getting
their first rinse in that club,

anywhere in the world.

JAMES: I spent a lot of time
travelling up and down the motorway

and playing the UK
and playing other countries, DJing abroad.

He was just relentless.

In those days, only very few people
had these vast record collections,

comprehensive discographies of labels,
where it's like all of it.


PAUL: He was obviously
a very good hustler,

being the first person to hear
whatever people are doing,

making contacts,
building a community with all his heroes.


JAMES: I suddenly just started realising
there was this crew of people

that wanted to change things, you know.

Maybe the best thing to do
was to try and set up my own label.

DJs had their labels.

If you were a cool DJ,
you had your own record label.

He'd heard this track by Repercussions.

He went over to New York on a mission:

to get a license for it.

I borrowed a thousand pounds.

I went to New York.

I gave a thousand pounds to the manager.

I got the DATs.

Came back with the license
and the master tapes.

He'd asked me to design the logo.

I got a deal with a distributor

and pressed the record.

My name's James Lavelle,

and I run a record label in the UK
called Mo'Wax recordings.

Urn, and that's kind of what I do,

is my "styl-o".

That is my shit, Mo'Wax, baby.

At that time,

the music industry and DJ culture
was locked down by the old guards.

It was just like a closed door, you know.

I always really admired his kind of,
"I'm gonna get this done

regardless of how many obstacles
are in my way",

and he's given me the opportunity
to make records.

I literally had a conversation,
got signed to Mo'Wax,

made a record, it came out.

I never made demos.

The Psychonauts, we were just DJ kids.

We had got signed to Mo'Wax.

You know, I was this kid that grew up
being into Star Wars,

then started scratching records
and collecting hip hop.

You know, I was a dreamer,
where I came from,

looking at James, like...
James was God, you know.

James turned everything into gold.

You know, going through
your teenage years is hard enough.

Trying to run a business?
Must have been really hard for him.

I mean, you've got to always
remind yourself he was a teenager.

JAMES: It was very hypothetical.
It was a bit of a mad dream.

It wasn't even like work.
It was just like non-stop mucking about.

I don't even know what work we did.

I can't even remember.

James did make it up as he went along
because he was really young.

You know, none of us had done it before.

JAMES: If anything went wrong,
it was always down to you being young.

Now when you're successful,

it's like, "You're really young.
Wow, you've done really well".

So, it kind of...

I think people take it seriously
and people don't, you know.

I don't know.
I don't really have that problem.

I think if you're good
at what you do, you're good.

I was very much on my own.

It was just kind of me and Swifty,
who did all the graphics.

"Coast To Coast" by Mistura

And I wanted to set up something
which was like a fast record label,

releasing records just, bang.
Ching, ching, ching. Just like, on point.

Bang. Ching, ching, ching.
Ching, ching, ching.

More wax, more records, more music.

You gotta credit James Lavelle

with being the first person
outside of our crew

who really believed in us
and believed in our sound, genuinely,

and was able to give us a shot
and put our music out,

so, you know,
shout out to James Lavelle.

The thing that was dope about James
is that he just had a vision.

The Mo'Wax sound, to me,
was one of just forward movement.

I'll credit him with being
one of the truly great A&R men

of the nineties.

At the moment,
people that are signed to Mo'Wax are:


HIP HOP MUSIC: # A dooby and a skin,
funky break beats and rhyme #

...Attica Blues...


...Dr. Octagon...

# Dr. Octagon paramedic foetus of the east #

...La Funk Mob...



"Flow" by RPM

...The Psychonauts...


...DJ Krush...


The Mo'Wax office,

there's so many people
coming and going all the time.

It was like a meeting ground
for all these different types of music

and from all over the world.

What's the secret of your success?

If you send me a cheque...

with a large sum of money
to 167 Caledonian Road, London,

I'll tell all of you.

No, um, the secret of my success
is a very strong identity.

FUTURA: I basically
was a famous graffiti artist when I was 18.

You know, if you ask people like,
"Have you ever heard of Futura?"

Like, "Oh shit. He's... He's dope".

I was recognised. I had no success.

I mean, I had no... I was broke.

And then turns out James
knew a lot about our culture.

We just started talking
about what we could do together.

James had tracked Futura down,

and he was working
in a photocopy shop in New York.

We went out and bought
hundreds of aerosols.

Futura arrived off the plane,

and we set him up in a broom cupboard,
and he just painted in there.

He was just like handing us artwork.

I mean, it was incredible.

FUTURA: James was delivering this kind of
complete thing to his audience.

He was really a pioneer.

I was always like, you know,
if my label fell apart tomorrow,

I'd rather have a load of nice looking
records at home.

Also, I brought in people like 3D,
from Massive Attack.

PAUL: Everyone was completely
mesmerised by their artwork.

It was a boutique label

before people even knew
what a boutique label was.

Rob... Rob...

James has wasted a lot of my money
basically, over the years, um...

and a lot of my time, as well,
to be honest.

- It's been a...

difficult relationship but, well,
you know...

but, you know, I'm sticking with it
for another couple of years at least.

PABLO: Mo'Wax was the label
that really spoke to everyone,

like techno, drum and bass,
hip hop and acid jazz.

Mo'Wax was the label
that brought them people back together.

It was doing what hadn't been done.

CHARLIE: This guy's
doing something different.

All these other people
just trying to follow

what's happening in... in New York,

and at some point,
we're all gonna wake up and realise

that we are not from the Bronx.

I'm living in South London,
I don't have a gold chain,

I don't have a firearm,
I don't have a Jeep,

urn, I don't have cash in my...
I... I'm overdrawn.

Like, I don't have any of the trappings

that any of these hip hop records
that I'm so obsessed with

are talking about.

You know, I need something new.

Expect from Mo'Wax that we are a,
inverted commas,

trip hop instrumental hip hop label.

# Rock died out and then came pop #

# Now you're living in the world
of trip hop. #

SWIFTY: What people call trip hop:
the hip hop, soul, reggae vibe,

the slowing down of the beats,
for the head nodders, for the stoners.

It would be very easy for us
to just kind of commercialise on the...

on the trip hop thing and just be like,
that's... that's our shit,

but it doesn't help your artists,
'cos everybody sounds the same.

Nobody's gonna break out the pack.

I'd rather have a label
full of individual people.



I'd rather not go into it anymore.

Just leave it, that question,
if it's alright

cos I... I just kind of feel now that,
you know.

There are a couple of particularly
famous acts around at the moment,

that one was heavily involved in.

You're an independent with, you know,
that can give them a grand.

It doesn't work.

For me the only way
that I could feel comfortable

in what I was doing
was to team up with a major

and have that financial backing,

that the next time
an act that I wanted came along,

I didn't have to worry about it.
I could just be like...

There. Let's just go.

OSMAN: A&M records
was one of the great independent labels,

and the idea was to tap
an existing artistic community

that was making great music.

Mo'Wax was the first on our list.

James was thinking really, really big.

He really thought like
great record moguls.

We offered him a great home
at A&M records.


Pioneering trip hop label, Mo'Wax,

is the brainchild of a young man
barely into his twenties,

called James Lavelle.

He's recently signed the label over
for a small fortune to A&M.

INTERVIEWER: Are you rich?
- Am I rich? Am I rich?

Do I look rich?

Ask my accountant.

INTERVIEWER: I thought you would be.
- I can't say things like that.

Tax man's watching MTV all the time.


Couple of hundred grand,

which I suppose if you're 21,
lot of money, huh?

Looked really good on paper, mate.

They had a lot of freedom
to build an independent label

within the structure of a major,

which was quite mad at the time.

I guess, like anything,

when you start something
to rebel against the system,

eventually what happens
is you become successful,

and then the system comes to find you.

And then the system says,
"You're doing really good now.

Do you wanna come and eat at the table?"
And you always say "Yes"

because you only rebelled
against the system

because the system wouldn't allow you in,
in the first place.

So, the deal comes with A&M.

He hired a guy to manage it all
called Steve Finan.

Clearly, he was a different breed,
quite ruthless.

I quickly sussed out
that that was the end for me.

The thing that annoyed me

was that James didn't really
have the bottle to tell me to my face.

He got Finan to do his dirty work for him.

Major label,
deal with the bullshit, the money.

Everybody's happy.

I get on with doing the music.

No problem.

STEVE: I think Swifty was a bit aggrieved,
but at the same time...

It can be stressful, you know,
it can be stressful working with James,

because he's always looking
for the next thing

that people are gonna think is cool.

That doesn't mean to say

that Swifty's not the best thing
since sliced bread.

SWIFTY: It did kind of piss me off
that I lost a friend rather than a client.

We were his friends, yeah.

Well, we thought we were his friends.

CHARLIE: You know,
I came into Mo'Wax as James' friend.

Now I can't get hold of you?

It's not a handshake and a spliff anymore,
you know what I mean?

Those days are over.

Those are the beginnings
of the music industry changing.

Labels were merging.

STEVE: James was prepared
to put himself on the line without fear.

It was remarkable
what James achieved at an early age.

It is just about keeping your ear
to the ground constantly, you know,

test the barriers of music
and create something new.

"Best Foot Forward" by DJ Shadow

MAN: # Oh hold up, before we get started #

WOMAN: # Guess who's coming. #
- Urn...

WOMAN: # Guess who's coming.#
- JAMES: Urn...

# It's... #
- DJ Shadow...

DJ Shadow.


VOICE BOOMS: # DJ Shadow #

Does it say record?

I met DJ Shadow,

and that revolutionised
and changed the sound now.

MUSIC: "Rivers Of My Fathers"
by Gil Scott Heron

JAMES: DJ Shadow's like an instrumental,
progressive hip hop thing.

This is our shit and nobody can...
You know, this is...

Suddenly, you...
You know, you find your own thing,

and it's so much more important to you.

It's so much more special
because that's your shit.

Do you know what I mean?

STEVE: James, if he wanted something,
he would go and get it.

He would get on a plane
and go and knock on Shadow's door.


DJ Shadow.

James came out to San Francisco.

JAMES: This is my first, like,
major video footage.

It's been christened
in Josh's home of beats.

MUSIC: "See And Don't See"
by Marie "Queenie" Lyons

# The only way #

JAMES: Aw, look at that.
- # How to get through to you #

Man, you've been buying a lot of records.

DJ SHADOW: The par/our of mystery.
- CHIEF XCEL: The par/our of mystery.

This is dope, you know.

We could, like, record this shit

and you can download it
onto fucking Internet shit.

We were so similar,

our absolute obsession
of collecting records.

We'd go to San Francisco
every other month,

and we'd go record shopping.

I just wanna shoot this.
This is so dope, you know.

It's crazy this place.

It's so amazing.

This is classic.

I was very close to Shadow.

I mean, I... You know,
he was my brother, and I loved him.

You know, I loved... I loved...
Loved everything he did,

and uh, it was a beautiful time,

and it was an innocent time,
and anything was possible.

I'm gonna leave my water there.

JAMES: So you know where it is.
The water marks the last spot discovered.

Another day, another batch of samples,
you know.

DJ SHADOW: My way of working,
everything's from a record.

I'd find something I thought
had interesting qualities as a loop.

I had to kind of sample
each word or phrase

and just play with it within the MPC

to get it to all line up
the way I wanted it.

It was time consuming.

Music's changed.

You don't have to have had ten years
practising a guitar and playing the piano

to be able to make a record.

Kids can just get on a sampler
and do the same thing.

DJ SHADOW: James' mandate to me was just:
"I want that out there" stuff.

Everybody else was telling me
to dumb it down.

As an artist you need somebody to be like,
you know, go with your strength.

I needed that.

MUSIC: "Edge Of Time"
by The Growing Concern

JAMES: Fed-Ex package comes,
got the DATs,

and I sat down and played the album,

and it was just one of those moments
where you were like,

fuck. This is a masterpiece.

Do you wanna listen?

"Organ Donor" by DJ Shadow

STEVE: As a piece of art,
Entroducing was incredibly important,

and you know you've...
you've got something special.

# I have just recently cleared up #

MUSIC: "Building Steam
With A Grain Of Salt" by DJ Shadow

PAUL: The use of sampling in Shadow's work
was completely mind blowing.

It was a complete headfuck, you know.
People were going, "What?!"

JAMES: That was a record
that most people told me

was not gonna work,
and that was the turning point for Mo'Wax.

You suddenly think, well you know,
I'm just gonna do what I wanna do.

If I don't challenge myself
and try the next level of things,

where does it all go?
It just gets a bit boring after a while.

# U.N.K, U.N.K, L.E #

Most bands start from hypothetical dreams.

SAMPLED VOICE: Put aside the everyday world

and come with us
into the realm of imagination.

I'm not your father Luke: I'm in UNKLE.

UNKLE, which is my project,

and we worked
with various different people.

I was beginning to work on UNKLE.

Here we are in the studios,
and um...

that, I need to do
just exactly what it is that I do.

James' genius was connecting the dots,

convincing people
that he has a really good idea.

STEVE: Shadow's doing all the music.
James' role is more editorial.

When James first used the two characters,

he was like,
"Wow. That could be the identity

for this group I'm trying to do", and...

the world of my characters
took on the persona of them.

MUSIC: "Lonely Soul"
by UNKLE feat. Richard Ashcroft

I had this concept.

I wanted to make a record
which was like a film.

I was heavily inspired by 2001,
Star Wars and Blade Runner.

CRACKLY VOICE: Science Fiction.

JAMES: What I was desperately pushing for
was to have my heroes.

OSMAN: James, he had, kind of,
epic fantasies about big albums,

an unbelievable idea of a sonic journey
that combined art and music.

We'd hooked up with Richard Ashcroft.

"Great. Let's do some music together."

# God knows you're lonely souls #

# Yeah, yeah #

That song, I think we're both
pretty proud of, um...

Like the bench... It was...

For us, it was definitely
a benchmark thing for the record

because it set the record up,
to know that we...

could... That we could poss...

We could achieve possibly
what we set out to do.

PAUL: Suddenly, there's
a slightly different league of people

that he is working with.

"Guns Blazing" by UNKLE

SAMPLED VOICE: # Somewhere in space,
this may all be happening right now #

MAN (RADIO): # Technical surveillance,
this is U.N.K.L.E. 77 #

# I'm requesting permission to land.
Do you copy? #

# Roger that. You're clear for landing. #

KOOL G RAP: # Styles like Al Pacino,
Reno until the Borsellino #

# The mad Dino with the bambino,
the Gambino #

JAMES: Alright, Guns Blazin'
features Kool G Rap.

His voice, his timing, what he's saying,
I always really admired him.

# You got the smoking section
First-class tickets to resurrection #

# Forever destined to a place where...
Never restin' #

MUSIC: "Nursery Rhyme/Breather"

They were really struggling
with the project

'cos it was so big and they said
would I do it,

and I was like right
at the start of my career,

and I said I'd give it a go.

# Does it mean I never let you know?
Each time I turn inside #

# When I fully grow, I'll outsize you #

STEVE: When the Badly Drawn Boy's
recordings going on, James is bored.

James phones Osmond, middle of the night,
crying on the phone to him.

Osmond gives him his credit card.

We never saw him again.

Just gone.

Parties every night by then.

Every night you were out.

There was just that whole sort of
party scene that was going on,

musicians and artists
and everybody.

It was like the explosion
of youth culture,

and we were right there
in the middle of it, you know.

You know, it was just
really fucking exciting, but fucking messy.

I can't remember a lot
to be honest with you.

There was a cocaine epidemic.

You've hung out with a fair few
excessive types in your time, James.

Isn't it the Gallaghers and stuff?
JAMES: Oh right, OK. Here we go.

Is that right?

Tell... Tell me if I'm wrong. Have...
Have you been down the path of excess?

I've had good times
and I've had bad times.

I dunno, man.
It's all rock and roll, isn't it?


CHARLIE: You've got everything
you've ever wanted.

All your heroes, basically...
Being the guy that everyone wants to know.

You've got a chance
of hanging out with me

or hanging out with Kate Moss.

Alright, cool.
You're gonna go hang out with Kate Moss.

His whole spectre of people
that he's hanging out with

starts to change,
and we weren't part of that.

- Leave me alone.

Just go away. I'm tired.


DJ SHADOW: Throw a tantrum.
I wanna get a tantrum on tape.

Josh, it's not funny.

DJ SHADOW: Nobody likes when I film.
Why is that?

James did the drugs, the partying...

Shadow never drank,
never smoked, never partied.

Completely polar opposites as characters.

DJ SHADOW: I think everybody
felt like they were out on a limb.

JAMES: We just wait another month
for Thom Yorke.

You know,
I'll get hold of Mike D eventually.

I knew that Josh
was really going a bit mad about it.

CHARLIE: James is like, "OK,
I wanna do a tune with the Beastie Boys",

and we're like, "Yeah, of course you do

because they're like
the biggest hip hop band in the world,

and you, with your obscure self...

Yeah, of course they are".

And he's like, "I'm gonna call them up".
And we're like, "What do you mean?"

He's like,
"I'm gonna call the Beastie Boys up".

And he did it. This is a serious dude.

That was really inspiring to watch.

MUSIC: "The Knock" by UNKLE feat. Mike D
# Check it out #

# I got a little story to tell #

# With DJ Shadow and James Lavelle #

# It starts right now in history#

# And I am known as the rapper Mike D #

JAMES: We started working
on some demos for Mike D.

# UNKLE style #

# UNKLE style #

# Come on. Break it... down. #

# Lavelle be getting down with no delay #

JAMES: The only way to get Thom Yorke
was that he was touring America.

He was gonna be in San Francisco
for two days.

Book a studio.
He'll do it the day before his show.

THOM: James Lavelle,
a good friend of ours,

has a sort of outfit called UNKLE.

We'd talked about it for ages,

and, uh, Shadow is sort of a genius,

and one of my heroes.

So to get to work with him is...
is a big kick.

We did it in San Francisco
and did it in George Lucas' place:

Skywalker Ranch.

So dope, this place.

It's crazy though, isn't it?

It's just like you've...
you've just invented your own...

your own world.

I think I was at a certain level,

where I really needed to work
with someone in a real close way,

and it did feel good to work
with other people in...

In that, you know, some of my best work
could come from that.

In that time in the mid-nineties,

this was before you had a lot of those,
kind of, rook-electronic collaborations,

and there was no formula.

Nobody quite knew how to deal with it.

There was no road map.



MUSIC: "Rabbit In Your Headlights"
by UNKLE feat. Thorn Yorke

# Fat bloody fingers #

# Are sucking your soul... away#

# Away #

# Away #

# Away... #

It was the first time that I felt like,

OK, James, I think I see
where you're going with this.


# I'm a rabbit in your headlights #

# Christian suburbanite #

# Washed down the toilet #

# Money to burn #

JAMES: Films in general influence me
when I make music,

when you lose yourself in things
and you're taken on a ride,

this mad journey.

It just leaves so much
to the imagination.

That's to me what it's all about,
it's kind of dreams

and going into another world,
another space.

Nice coat, pal.

# Caught between stations #

# I'm losing my patience #

JAMES: MTV banned the video
because he looked too real,

and it was just like, "OK".

This is James all over, right,

it's... It's the most award winning video,

but when you're trying to have a hit record,
a video that cannot be shown...

It's like, no one's gonna play it.

JAMES: Suddenly it was like
managers kicking off.

Richard Ashcroft was signed to Virgin.

Why would they allow us
to put a single out on our label?

It was just never gonna happen.

So many people involved,
and so many managers involved,

and so many labels involved,

and lawyers involved.

Here he is,

the man with the plan.


Do you wanna get a drink
or something upstairs?

- Yeah?

DJ SHADOW: Um, I could tell everybody
was dancing around something,

but I didn't know what.

And um, basically,
I was sat down in Finan's office,

James entered the room
and they got down to brass tacks about...

you know, so what are the writers' splits
gonna be between you and James.

I was standing up for myself
not so tactfully,

"You're not touching my writer credits".

It was all my idea.

The people involved in that record
and everything about it.

I was the one that had brought
all this together.

The bottom line, it's the ideas.

It was a concept record.

DJ SHADOW: I didn't think
it was going to be as controversial

as it was for James.

Showing up at a studio
and kind of checking in once in a while

and going, "How's it all going?"

is not the same as sitting down
and making a beat.

Most A&R men don't get writer credit.

JAMES: That process from beginning to end
was like a two year process.

Quite an amazing feat
that we got that record done, I think.

UNKLE (Main Title Theme) by UNKLE

SAMPLE: # An adventure
unlike anything on your planet #

Welcome back. Now even
by the standards of the music industry,

the advance notices for 'Psyence Fiction'
have been extraordinary.

Only just out and the critical buzz

over UNKLE's 'Psyence Fiction' album

has been a music executive's dream.

If the UNKLE release
can unite rock and dance fans

in enough numbers,

it'll make Lavelle millions

and open up a huge
new market of consumers for Mo'Wax.

Last night, at least, they seemed happy.


SAMPLE: # You are the first
human beings to ever travel so far #

# All people of the solar system
congratulate you #

MAN: James Levelle
was this force of nature.

MAN 2:
Epic and defining the nineties.

PRESENTER: UNKLE special tonight.
- NEWS READER: Five star review.

MAN 3: Big landmark release.
- MAN 2: The next big thing.


JAMES: The media coverage was crazy
on that record.

Elsewhere in pop world,
a new sort of group called UNKLE

has just released,
well, not an album exactly,

this is the sort of record
that longs to be called a project.

The record was recorded as a...
As a 60-minute experience,

rather than just an individual,
single-based project.

James Lavelle is the talkative one
and Josh Davies is the guy

who appears to have spent
way to much time in the studio with him.

During the 'Hello Nasty' sort of recording,

we used to have this bet
who's gonna finish the album first.

OK, now we have...
Now we know we can achieve something here.

And we've got a benchmark
to base everything else,

so, you know, to base around,
you know, what...

what else we need to achieve.

They won.

Money's in the post mate.

The men from UNKLE...


PRESENTER: Featuring Ian Brown
and DJ Shadow, it's UNKLE.

VOICE OVER RADIO: # U.N.K.L.E requesting
permission to land. Do you copy? #

I was in Stone Roses.

Stone Roses finished, and, uh,

James said
he was putting together a record.

So we took the track
called 'Unreal' from the album,

uh, put lyrics on it
and made it into 'Be There'

and released that as a single.

Next thing we were on Top of the Pops.

JAMES: Top of the Pops,
you grow up with these things as a kid,

you're like, wow, you know.

DJ SHADOW: There became the issue of,
well, what's James gonna do?

And I said, "Well, why don't you play
a few notes on the Mellotron then?"

And it was just three notes, if I recall,

but at least he'd be up there
with an instrument and doing that.

JAMES: The idea was
that we were both gonna DJ,

but Josh wouldn't have it that I DJ,
and, uh, you know,

Shadow's view of me being
just an A&R man and not an artist,

and I had to then play the Mellotron.

That was very degrading for me.

# You don't want to go there #

# Let me lead you by the hand #

# You don't want to be there #

# Over the sea and onto land #

# As I look into your eyes
I pay no mind #

# I found the way to get inside you #

# I'd give you peace of mind #

It was a top ten single,

and it was one of the most
played records that year.

I went against everybody and I won.

Bang. Ching, ching, ching.

Ching, ching, ching. Ching, ching, ching.

Psyence Fiction time...

it was...

He wants to do clothes.

CHARLIE: Now everyone has a collaboration
with a brand.

In those days, people didn't do it.
You didn't even know how to do it.

You know, his trainer game was on point.

Next thing we're making toys.

"Unreal" by UNKLE

Did I ever think that Mo'Wax
were gonna start making toys? No.

Was I surprised that it happened?

Most definitely not,
because that was the culture at the time.

He started when he was very young.

There is something teenage
about the whole thing.

He kind of made a career
out of being a perpetual adolescent.

You've got a problem
if the owner of the label,

wants to be the main artist on the label.

You got other people going, "Well, hang on.
Where's he gonna put the money?

On your record or his own record?"

My artist versus commerce problem.

Urn... I'm working
on the future of my life.

PAUL: This conflict
between how far does your vision go

in relation to the people
who actually make your vision a reality.

DJ SHADOW: James really wanted
to be like his artists.

The more he wanted to,
kind of, be a rock star,

the more that alienated
a lot of his artists.

I find it kind of strange that the man
who's fronting this record

is essentially an A&R man
and a record label boss

and not a musician.

And so the actual creative input
that he's had on this record

is actually getting people to be on it,

and that is seen
as some kind of giant artistic effort,

which strikes me as kind of weird.


JO: James?

Really pathetic that a magazine
like the NME can sit there,

the way they'll have
Robbie Williams and the Spice Girls

on the front cover of these magazines,

yet the whole idea of these magazines

is that they're there
to support new alternative.

No. I don't appreciate that.

JO: I was just gonna say
the NME, and Q, and...

JAMES: It started off
as this amazing fanfare of:

"it defines the nineties",
and then suddenly it was like,

they fucking hated me,

and the review of Psyence Fiction was,

who the fuck
does James Lavelle think he is?

And this is the worst collaborative record
of all time.

They were hyping this record

for years and years... and years
and years and years before it came out,

and all of it was like
a million years in the making.

They'd built this album out
to be so much.

It was putting a lot of pressure
on himself.

I think what's tricky for James

is the fact that he was super successful
as a young guy.

There's a lot of jealousy here.

I think most of them would prefer
to see him fall than see him go up.

PABLO: Before he got to enjoy the fruits
of being young and having some success,

everybody had fucking destroyed it.

ECHOING: # U.N.K, U.N.K, L.E #

JAMES: Osman pulled
the whole company together,

and he's like,
"James, I wanna play Lonely Soul".


"Lonely Soul" by UNKLE

It... It... It was a dark moment

because PolyGram, financially,
was under a lot of pressure.

I heard about A&M
and Island being merged.

They felt that two art house labels
could be one.

That's when I thought
it was the beginning of the end.

JAMES: Osman did this speech
about why fucking A&M's getting shut down.



# I'm a lonely soul #

That deal...

ended, and the deal with A&M ended,

uh, so A&M got folded into Island.

This structure that we'd had
didn't exist anymore.

We'd always had Mo'Wax
trademarked in our name,

so we had the name,
but as far as any catalogue

or anything like that, we had nothing.

Uh, all the people
that were signed to Mo'Wax,

now they were signed to Island,
same with UNKLE.

Same with UNKLE.

We didn't really have a label
at that point.

Starting again was...


The industry was destroying everyone.

The whole PolyGram merger
was the first big bang

that knocked the music scene.

It was horrible...

uh, total shit storm.

I can't see how that album came together

and James walked away
with no writing credit.

He wouldn't earn a penny.

James was naive...

but that was one of his assets, I think...


JAMES: All this stuff happening
and you were going from a young kid

to suddenly you're like a fucking adult.

I was 24,
the end of everybody being together.

# A ticket to nothingness #

Hopefully, yeah.

It's not between me and Mo'Wax.
It's between Mo'Wax and PolyGram.

DJ SHADOW: We were bound by contract
to a bigger label than Mo'Wax.

James was upset
about losing all his artists.

He made it out in his head
that everybody was against him

and that all his artists left him.

Right after Entroducing',
I went right into UNKLE.


I'm taking a break.

UNKLE had to tour.

I wasn't interested in touring
as part of UNKLE,

so I wasn't involved.

JAMES: He wiped his hands clean of it,
which was just mad, you know,

after all this work and everything.

He just fucking disappeared, you know.

It was like everybody just
wiped their hands clean of it, you know.

DJ SHADOW: James and mine relationship
had changed. I could feel it.

It... It just was really complicated

JAMES: It was the height
of mine and Josh's relationship,

and then the...

the end of it really.

They were gonna do
an album launch in L.A.,

and James rings The Psychonauts up
two days, three days before,

and Josh didn't turn up,

and he didn't come back.

And he flew us out, and we played
the Psyence Fiction album launch party.

I think that was pretty unfair on James.

OSMAN: That split changed
the course of that movement,

because James was like the brain
and DJ Shadow was like the heart.

Psyence Fiction being
the great masterpiece,

but also the end point of an era.

JAMES: Being in... in a musical
relationship when you're young,

there's an idea that,
you know, that first kind of love

and you... you have a dream,
and it would've been nice

to have been able
to see that dream to the end.

"Lonely Soul" by UNKLE

We have lost contact with U.N.K.L.E.

Is anybody out there, copy?

MUSIC: "Napalm Brain/ Scatter Brain"
by DJ Shadow

JAMES: I had this romance,
which was just like perfect.

You know, I'd met
the woman of my dreams, Janet.

Absolutely blindly in love.

We were engaged within three months.


You're so annoying, I really want some.

Now's my time. Now's my time.

JINI LAVELLE: I think having Lyla
at the beginning was extremely difficult.

In a very profound relationship,

you have a kid, and you're still so young,

and you're trying to create a career
and be a businessman.

To push... as... as far as you can.

How... How... How do you do all of that?


JAMES: Every day you're in a nightclub,
or in... You're in a studio.

It's... it's a total way of life,

but there are obviously other things
that are really important in life, as well,

and I think that...


trying to find that balance
is kind of my greatest struggle really.

You get knocked down
and you pick yourself up

and at the end, you know, hope...

You know, hopefully you walk away
and you win in some way.

Steve Finan got him a home
at Beggars Banquet,

and their flagship label, XL.

When we started working with Mo'Wax,

XL could bring
a kind of paternalistic independence,

if you like, to Mo'Wax

in a way that would allow it
to be reborn and flourish.

It was really down to James
to repopulate the A&R

with a new generation of artists.

It was business as usual really.

Got a nice new office in Notting Hill,

bought his expensive furniture again.

He always had his toys
and everything round it.



this is off-road mission control #

We met about eight years ago.

Over the years I worked with Mo'Wax.
We just hit it off.

UNKLE sounds,
our DJ outfit come out of that,

through us living together.
It was fun, you know...

INTERVIEWER: You lived in the same house
and didn't get into fights at all?

RICH: Yeah, loads.

It was a good time, and um, it was fun.

James enabled people that he saw

had the potential to be creative,
to be creative,

who potentially...
Who might not have had the opportunity

had it not been for his trust.

JAMES: I love Rich, you know.
He was my best friend.

He was such an amazing

This would be great:
Rich could sing.

He could become somebody in the band
that, sort of, nobody knows.

# The awesome... Return. UNKLE! #

"Morning Rage" by UNKLE

# What was it all about #

# Something's turned me inside out #

JAMES: It's about giving people freedom
to be creative,

working with people
that have a voice and say something,

and it's about giving those people
that space to do that.

That is wicked, man!

That is amazing!

That was mental, mate.

ANTONY: That was vibe central.
- RICH: Sweet.

RICH: That's not something
that happens every day,

Jarvis Cooker and Brian Eno turning up.

Doctors' Cooker and Eno surgery:

I thought he has big beautiful eyes,

and then he took his glasses off
and I realised they were that small.

Shall we, ya know, rock and roll?

He goes, "I sent you a song,

and I want you to take a look at it
and see if we can collaborate, you know",

and the song went:
bom-bom-bom-bom, bu-bom,

born, bu-bom-bom-bom-bom,

for three minutes.

And I was like,
"Hey James I got news for ya:

that ain't a goddamn song yet",
you know what I mean.

But he was, like, adamant.
He was like, "Yeah. It is".

That sort of excitement and possibility,
to me that's the essence of DJ culture.

You may not have made this sample,

you may not have made those drums
or sang that,

but when you put 'em together,
they're something new,

and there's an artistry to that.

Don't get me wrong,
most DJs are fucking retarded...


...but the great DJs
are a real fucking thing,

the great combiner of things.

"Safe in Mind" by UNKLE

# Don't you go #

# To turn around #

JAMES: Wrote the song in half hour,
sung in one take, and there you have it.

# Someone's found a way #

# To break into my mind #

RICH: James had recently met Antony Genn,
who co-produced the record.

ANTONY: You know, he wants me
to be involved in a record. Great.

And then we got into the studio
and started working

and, obviously,
it was very clear that, um...

as brilliant as James is at some things,

writing music wouldn't be one of them.

I got to do pretty much what I wanted.

So we'll just do
a couple of takes of this,

for like, three or four minutes
of a go, yeah?

Would that be OK with you?

It just sort of all came together,

a snowball that starts really small
and just keeps going round

and picking up more, and more,
and more, and more,

and by the end, it's out of control.

The way that I like working.

# No pain, no gain #

MUSIC: "No Pain, No Gain"
by UNKLE feat. Keith Flint

# No gain #

# No pain... #

No Pain, no Gain with Keith Flint,

the fucking fire starter,

and uh, he came in the studio.
We had a right laugh.

It was wicked.

It doesn't always go that easy.

That voom, voom thing.

that's the best bit in the tune.

JAMES: You think so?
- ANTONY: What, you don't like that bit?

JAMES: It's just one of those things...
I do and I don't.

I'm finding it really hard,
it kind of...

I'm worried about it just being
too cheesy.


JAMES: I don't want it to suddenly
sort of be like a Limp Bizkit record,

which is what it kind of
starts reminding me of

when I hear that beginning.
That scares me.




JAMES: Urn, there was a lot of pain
in the creative process.

You know, there was a lot of beauty
from that,

but they were tough records to make.

"Reign" by UNKLE

# And if you could have said it all #

# I know you would have said it all #

# I am the rain #


"Back And Forth" by UNKLE

VOICE ECHOING: # Never, never land #


I don't think it was a bad record,
but as a follow up to Psyence Fiction,

I don't think it cut it.

Psyence Fiction, it wasn't something
that I ever wanted to compete against.

INTERVIEWER: DJ Shadow's not
on this album, uh, how come?

JAMES: Um, he's just got his own things,
you know, doing his own things.

RICH: The Keith Flint song,
there was an instant buzz around it,

and the record company were super excited
about the smell of commercial success.

ANTONY: James didn't wanna put it
on the record.

He said "It's cheesy".

This was a record
that was costing a lot of money.

This is a business.

You've gotta turn something on.
You need something to hang it on.

Maybe they could've had a hit.

RICH: The record label were very upset
as a result of us pulling that song.

We did start rehearsing
to play the record live,

but the record label,
they'd lost interest in us,

so we were left with no way
of playing live.

The budget that we were offered
wasn't gonna do that.

So I feel like the record
could only go so far

in terms of who it connected with.

Uh, you know, Island dropped us.

I ended up going nearly bankrupt
because I went way beyond the advance.

PABLO: At that point,
you're at the beginning of piracy.

Vinyl Mo'Wax,
people weren't really buying wax anymore.

The MP3 was killing us all.

MARTIN: James had nailed
the, kind of, record as an artefact.

Um, and obviously the artefact
doesn't really exist in the digital world.

JAMES: Everybody had picked up
on the Mo'Wax success.

Anything that I tried to sign,
everybody else tried to sign.

Mo'Wax was in debt.

PABLO: James was still spending
huge amounts of money, you know.

I mean...

He signed South.

They spent over a quarter
of a million pounds on South,

and this is a band that nobody knows
or nobody's heard of.

JAMES: When I went into XL,
they weren't records which were hitting.

The records weren't selling.

It was a failure.

Slowly, but surely,

the decisions were being made
without his consent,

or even without his knowledge.

MARTIN: Uh, James
is a very difficult character to manage

because he's such an individual.

He's, you know, all over the place, and...
Which is what makes him great.

He... He wouldn't be unemployable
as a creative genius maverick,

if there was a role within a company
for that,

but maybe those... those, uh...

those existences have to be
outside the mainstream.

He wanted to be the artist,

so the label just became dormant
and he was on his own.

JAMES: The... The death of Mo'Wax
was a very, urn, sad, traumatic experience.

I just walked away
'cos I couldn't deal with it.

James Lavelle is defined by Mo'Wax records,

and bringing together
that magic moment of synergy and zeitgeist.

The Psyence Fiction success,

what a wonderful thing to have happened.

What a terrible burden to wake up
the next year and make new work.

If you'd shone so bright
at such an early age,

I think to try and sustain that,
to reinvent that,

it's really difficult.

It's not that easy.
It's... It's almost impossible.

PAUL: When you suddenly realise
you're not gonna get paid

for something you've invested
a whole chunk of your life in,

then you have to re-evaluate
how you get paid.

DOM: In the early nineties,
he was more known

as playing downbeat stuff.

He totally reinvented himself
as a house DJ -

that's where the money is -
but did it in a very cool Lavelle way.

# Pure energy #

We spent a hell of a lot of time
at Fabric in those days.

JAMES: I was a resident for five years
at Fabric, every Friday night.

It was a very good time,
but it was a very long five year weekend.

Escapism, this Peter Pan thing
where you always wanna stay young

and have a certain freedom,

Always parties. It was just non-stop.

I did used to get quite excited.

One time, a bouncer stopped me
killing myself.

JAMES: It can't always just be
up all the time.

When reality kicks in,
coming down is always the problem.

I mean he's lucky he's alive.


Drugs, drink, everything.


JAMES: You're trying to be a Dad,
but you're fucking that up.

I mean I just... You know,
I left home, living in hotels.

I... I... I cheated on her
and I... I started burning my soul, really.

She wanted to change. I didn't.

Broken up with my...
my daughter's mother.

And it was a very sad period of my life.

Why did this break up happen?
Why did I end up in bed with this person?

Why did I do the drugs at this time?

Whatever, you know,
those are the war stories, you know.

What is the biggest war you've fought then?



INTERVIEWER: And have you won the war?
- No.

INTERVIEWER: Still in it?
- I doubt it'll end till you die.

James would always get himself
into financial trouble

because he would always spend
everything that he had.

JAMES: I walked out with a ?270,000 bill,
in tax and other debts.

James and I met at a time when,

you know,
there was definitely fracture in his life,

use of substances.

I mean, I buried six of my friends
who subscribed to the same philosophy.

I don't want to be
at James Lavelle's funeral.

Hi, daddy.

I'm not wearing these.


I find it very difficult to know
when James has been most happy.

He adores his daughter.

We are chillin' and illin'.

Let's run away, shall we run away?
- No.


Great artists have always been able
to go through these challenges,

and then rise above it.

I'd introduced him to Chris Goss.

CHRIS: When I met James,
it seemed like that fire had passed

and all the trees
were burnt down around him

and he was, like, still standing.

Just coming out of that vortex
of confusion.

Chris Goss is a producer, he's a singer,
he's an amazing guitarist.

Through him we were able to record
at Rancho de la Luna studio in Joshua Tree.

# Burn my shadow away #

Good enough for now.

On Burn My Shadow, it was just fortuitous
that I would use the word "shadow",

and that was certainly
no reference to DJ Shadow, whatsoever,

but it was a reference
to, kind of, James' past.

Yeah, it's dark.

You stay with it,
you'll come out the other side.

# And burn my shadow away #

# Oh, how I loved you#

We done?

Fucking sorted.

Welcome, and what did you think of that?

I left my wizard hat here last night.

And I want it back.

I was in a tough time myself...
at that time,

you know, where my head was at.

James, you know,
he and I have apexed at dark moments

with striking similarity in time.

If you're going
to collaborate with someone,

the more vulnerable you are,
the better it is.

I don't know if they have
the game Twister in England or not,

but he always starts
by having right hand blue, left leg green,

like he starts, like,

"Hi, are you interested in getting
into this game with me?"

And... And you look at him and you go,
"Well, that's all fucked up...

I could give it a go".

I like insurmountable odds,

and he can't tell when he's in one.

# Well I'm all restless but I don't care #

# You don't like me much, well me either #

# You're on me #

# Hold my hand #

# I need you now #

JAMES: Chris Goss, he just made us feel
that it was OK to just let it out.

# Are your drugs healing? #


He became a songwriter and a singer.

The press pointing the finger at James

and saying, "Oh, what do you do?
You're just the... The A&R man".

At least now he could be a voice
and Rich didn't like that.

# The highs that they were seeking #

CHRIS: He did his first vocal,
and it made the record.

"Hold My Hand" by UNKLE

War Stories.

I was surprised when I heard
he was the singer, I have to say.

James Lavelle, the lead singer of UNKLE.

It's not a fucking rock record, man.

You know, it's...
It's an UNKLE record, you know.

INTERVIEWER: And this record actually
is much more of a rock record.

Has this always been in your mind?

JAMES: I'd spoken to 3D from Massive Attack
about doing the art work.

3D: Futura had done a lot of artwork,
obviously, for UNKLE,

so it was a kind of a tough act to follow.

Basically changed our direction

to give us a new image.

INTERVIEWER: So what do you think of James
setting up a brand new record label?

I think it was naive to be honest, but...
- Do you?

We haven't really set up a record label
in the way what I did for Mo'Wax.

It's a label where we can put
out our own records.

So this opportunity came along.
I'd set up a label with Rob.

Rob put a lot of money in.

It was called 'Surrender All'.

We were independent.

It felt like a new beginning.

But I had acquired a lot of debt.

I hadn't been DJing.

I didn't really have any income
because I wasn't getting a wage,

so I borrowed money from Rob,
and there was a lot of money flying around.

PABLO: And Rob spent on War Stories
probably close to half a million.

That's a lot of money
when everybody's downloading your albums

on MP3s for nothing.

JAMES: Physical sales
they get smaller and smaller at the moment.

Most people make money from touring.

People weren't buying records.

Well, the only way you're gonna make money
out of music is you gotta go live.

"Morning Rage" by UNKLE

# What was it all about? #

# Something's turned me inside out #

# Some put myself around #

# You should pull me in and turn me out #


Sell-out crowds everywhere we went.

It's not a bad way to start a live career.



Cheers, big ears.

I love you.
- WOMAN: I love you.

Before I even met James,

somebody told me
James Lavelle's a nightmare to work with.

You know, he made Richard File's
hair fall out with alopecia through stress.


But he kind of just swept me off my feet.


Some things in life need to stay private.

"In A State" by UNKLE

# My mind is in a state #

RICH: On tour,
all hell could potentially break loose.

I can't remember much of it.

# Cos all I seem to do is tempt my fate #

PABLO: Rich and James' relationship
was already kind of frayed.

They were constantly drinking,
got wasted and partying.

I mean that takes a toll,
you know, a massive toll.

JAMES: Something which is part of the fun
can then become the destructive element.


"Price You Pay" by UNKLE

# I don't care #

# It's the price you pay #

James only works with his friends.

You know, Rich was his friend.

The problem is, if you're in business
with your friend,

you know it's gonna...
It's gonna get tough.

People used UNKLE to achieve things

that they couldn't normally do
in their own situation.

INTERVIEWER: So you felt used maybe?
- Yeah.

INTERVIEWER: And you didn't use them?
JAMES: Did I use them? Um...

No, I just thought
it was the best thing for the music.

RICH: It was clear that me and James
wouldn't make another record,

and that was the end.

There wouldn't be any more.

JAMES: It's just another loss
of something which was really special.

I've lost half of my best friends:
Shadow, Rich, my daughter's mother.

Is it really worth it?
You know, for what? To make music?

I used to imagine that the older you got,
the more experience you got

and you would fail less,
but that's not the case.

Inherent in the creative process
is it not working out.

That's why
it's such a brave thing to do.

Who would make music, hey?


Gotta be an easier way to make a living.


Why does that fucking do that?

JAMES: Pablo Clements used to be
in the Psychonauts.

We started working in a studio
that we set up.

"Hot Blood" by The Psychonauts

Me and James were really close
for twenty years,

and we did really hit it off
because every time he'd say something,

I... We knew what we were talking about.

You go through relationships

to eventually find the person
that hopefully you're gonna stay with.

Pablo's one of those people you trust.

I think with my fucking history, it's...
It's really important to have that around.

JAMES: We're a self-sufficient band
in the fact that we have our own label.

We did achieve
a lot of what I set out to do.

We were doing great collaborations.
There was amazing video stuff being done.

I borrowed money from Rob,

and I didn't realise the interest
on my debt was ridiculous.

Everything that I did
was to pay back this debt.

Ching, ching, ching.

PABLO: War Stories had its own debt.
- JAMES: Ching.

PABLO: UNKLE live was creating a huge debt.
- JAMES: Ching.

JAMES: You're having to support
all of these people.

Everybody was getting paid wages. I wasn't.

He had art shows.

He had the remix department.

I started a clothing company.

James thinks really big.
That comes at a price, you know.

JAMES: Suddenly everybody realised
that the way to make money

was to license records to advertising,
films or television.

We did 150 tracks
in five years or something.

It descended into a factory.

I'm on a complete hamster wheel.

All of this creative world
that we were trying to create was going,

and it was just literally
about knocking out tracks.

I was really in debt.

The only way of making a living was DJing.

James Lavelle!

DJing is a wonderful thing,
but it's a very lonely experience.


I'm fucked? Everybody's fucked.

When you live a nocturnal lifestyle,

you're tired,
you take drugs to keep you awake.

I'd like to think that he will stop.
He will find his happiness.

He says he wants to give up the drugs,
and it's like, prove it.

# Are you really living? #

# Are you happy being? #

I'm fed up with it.
It's great being creative,

and it's great, you know,
putting records out and all that stuff,

but there's a point
where if things don't change in a year,

I don't know, man.

I don't know.

The only way that I could be myself
and get back my life,

was to make another record.

I wanted to be an artist.

We're going to sell millions and millions
and millions and millions,

take over the world,
and be the biggest band in the world.

PABLO: He still wants to make
the biggest album in the world

and sell millions of records.

He still believes he can do it. I don't.




PABLO: Everything was not making money,
so budgets were cut and time was cut.

They wanted the album finished,
and we were given

six months.

Urn, gives us...

It's the first now...

Three and a half weeks
and they have to finish,

ROB: For them to finish.
- MARCIE: Finish.


JAMES: We've been working on loads of demos
to send to potential collaborators.

Any collaborative record,

you're only really as big
as the collaborators you use.

That's proven
by all of UNKLE's records, and...

No one was coming back
and we were just kind of panicking that...

we'd just written crap music.

How we gonna get guitars done?

How we gonna get
all the vocals done properly?

We need somebody to do that,

otherwise we're just
not gonna make a good enough record.

Vocals, songs, it's not what we're good at.

# Oh, Oh #

# Oh #

# Oh #

Oh, fuck me.

Chris is only over for three weeks,

and it's a big thing
for anybody to look at.

You should have your songs
first and then record,

but because of the tight schedules,
we haven't had that chance to do that,

so it's... it's been a bit weird.

# We've seen things they won't believe #

# We crossed into oblivion #

How about throwing
"This is where it all begins" in there?

JAMES: This is where it all begins?
- Yeah.

JAMES: We crossed into oblivion?
- Yeah.

# So far gone, the edge I'm on,
I see it now #

# Oblivion #

What I really need is what track they're...
or track stroke tracks

that they're interested in working on.

What I did was ring Marcie.

I said we could turn it into another track,

and she was just like, we haven't got time
to turn things into another track.

What, James is gonna tell us that
we're gonna need more time?

We can't. We don't have more time.
We haven't got a company.

She went right into one
like that with me.

I was kind of like, "woah".

JAMES: I know. It's not fair though, man.
- CHRIS: Absolutely. Fuck 'em.

We're gonna make it in spite of it,
so who cares right?

And the record will be fucking finished.
I don't give a fuck.

I was thinking just for the ending,

you know, it's like...

No, it's, um...

If we had the collaborations
which we thought we would,

by this point, we would be
in a very different situation.

It's not anybody's fault.



Musically we're way behind.

We've got like another ten tracks to do
in two days or something,

deadlines and stuff,
it's a bit of a joke really.



Good approach.



Try it, like, as you wrote.

Alright, cool.


# Each day #

# Each day #

# In a clock #

JAMES: Don't understand,
why are you getting so angry with us?

Everybody's trying to do
the same thing here.

PABLO: Right, but I'm trying to tell you...
But I'm just saying...

JAMES: Why are you running away?
Why are you doing this?

PABLO: Because I'm fucking tired.
- JAMES: So is everybody.

PABLO: And... And do you know what?
I'm just pissed off with it at the moment.

You know what, just go away for a minute.
Go away for a minute.

# And my mistake's to make it better #

PABLO: We're not gonna have time to do it.
Why am I doing it?

We will have a solution.

Well then, there isn't a record. That's it.

There is nothing more that we can do.

JAMES: I still believe we can do it.
- PABLO: We can't.

GAVIN: # A dream of love #

# Has spread her wings #

# And flew forever #

# Each day #

# Each day #

# In a clock #


I'd like to get an update

on what the outstanding vocals are

that we 're still hoping
will come in from different places,

and I really need to hear
about the things that didn't work.


Nothing has moved on any further

than what existed previously
going into the studio.

MANAGEMENT: Really that it seems like
it was a non event.

JAMES: When you've got
very specific deadlines, you know,

and it wasn't a very... you know,
so it made it a very... A very...

uncomfortable and depressing situation
in the end, to be perfectly honest.

Yep. Urn...

JAMES: If we could get like
one or two more days,

when we know exactly...
When we've like...

MACIE: No. There's no money
for recording left at all.

Well, we're gonna have to...
We're gonna need to...

MACIE: There is no money left.
- JAMES: Right.

MACIE: I mean, basically we're aiming
for the end of this month.

JAMES: To finish the album?
- MACIE: Yeah.

JAMES: You know, I think everybody
is gonna try their best.

"Oblivion" by UNKLE

# So far gone, I won't ever stop #

# For all that I am, for all that I'm not #

# So far gone the edge I'm on #

# I see it now #

# Oblivion #

# I see it now #

# Oblivion #

# Oblivion #

PAUL: Well, I...
I didn't even know about that album.

You know, I had no idea about that record.

No idea.

JAMES: Most bands
start from hypothetical dreams.

I don't know if you're ever
going to fulfil what you expect

because you kind of build
a big picture in your head of something,

and I don't know if you're ever
really able to fulfil that.

This has been fucking hell,
actually, for this one.

Really stressful.

I mean I have a family life
and I live in Brighton,

so Brighton's definitely nicer, you know.

Pablo's built a studio in Brighton,
hence the empty shelves here in London.

I mean, I'd love to do
Madison Square Gardens.

I'd love to do, you know, Wembley Stadium.
Who wouldn't?

I don't know if that will ever happen.

You know, I'd love to sell
millions of records.

I don't know if that opportunity has gone.

PABLO: I've created this studio
in Brighton.

Is that the nice way to say...
way to say it.

Rob's pulled the plug on Surrender.

Shouldn't say that.

Um, little bit worrying.

Um, the label, you know...

I'm... I'm not going to be doing
Surrender next year.

What happens with UNKLE,
we'll see what happens.

The Surrender All situation fell apart,

so I'm just sitting there, no studio,
nobody coming to London,

everybody doing it in Brighton.

Just sitting there,
just having to deal with this for a year.

Biggest feeling
like the biggest dickhead in the world.

And nobody gave a shit.

We... We tried to make it...
Make it... To make it work,

and, you know, it was tough.

It was really, really, really tough.

'Cos what I said is
"Let me go and do my thing,

you do your thing.

"No more UNKLE, for a while".

And then I'd start doing some remixes,
under my own name,

and they put it under UNKLE,
which was not contractually right.

Everybody starts freaking out.

I get a call from somebody telling me

that I'm gonna explain
how every record was made,

so people know that it wasn't you,

which is the biggest load
of fuckin' bullshit in the world.

You know, I think everybody had thought,
you know, UNKLE was everybody now

and records started getting made
by committee.

In most creativity, there's a leader,
a great singular point of view.

Once you get rid of that vision,
things tend to deteriorate.

NATHAN: The things that are really
important are ideas.

The idea is everything.

If you take my ideas
or want to silence me,

that's everything you're taking.

These things are too important to imagine
that you can rebuild the bridge.

I kind of rung James and, um,

you know,
I probably said a lot of truths,

I suppose, to James,
that he didn't wanna hear, and...

And actually in weird ways,
I, um, you know, regret a lot of that

'cos, you know,
he didn't deserve what...

some of the stuff that I said,
but he said a lot of horrible things back,

and I probably said a lot
of horrible things to him and...

And, yeah we...
We haven't really spoke since.

It's hard to keep loving each other,
you know.

It's his vision.

I think some people feel
uncomfortable with that,

that they're kind of servicing,

to the vision of this other dude.

People think,
why are we doing this for this guy

when we could be doing it for ourselves?

And they underestimate what he brings.

You know, the fact
that some people can't see it,

has been quite...
Has been quite damaging, I think, for him.

I really built this for me and James
to make music in,

and I wanted him to be a part of this,
you know.

We were a team,

and yeah, I miss him though, you know.

You know, 'cos we are friends.

I'm... I love James, you know. I really do.

I've known him for 20 years.

I'll never forget he is the guy

that gave the 21 year old dreamer
a chance, you know.


JAMES: The band had gone,
my DJing career had disappeared,

I'd lost a label that I loved,

I was heavily in debt,

I'd lost my confidence, my identity,
in many ways.

Everything I touched just failed, you know.


What changes do you wanna make?

Stop that sort of nocturnal, narcotic world
that I've lived in most of my life,

is the thing that is the biggest challenge
for me

and the thing that I'm trying to change.

LORNA: How long have you lived
that lifestyle for?

Twenty years.

LORNA: Do you think you can stop it?
- Yes.

LORNA: Really?
- I think that... yeah.

I mean, I... You know, things change,
don't they? Don't they?

And there are things
that are being lost.

There are too many things being lost.

LORNA: What have you lost?
- You.

I lost you.

SAD ROCK MUSIC: "Like Clockwork"
by Queens of the Stone Age

# Everyone it seems #

# Has somewhere to go #

JAMES: I kind of got here
and was definitely not in a good place.

My relationship's gone down the toilet
as usual.

I realise that I just kind of
constantly throw things away.

# And the faster the world spins #

# The shorter the lights will glow #

JAMES: Just had the last few days
to really go into myself in Sri Lanka.

To be honest with you,
I just got sick of hearing music, and...

the idea of even...

I had no idea of what a record
should be anymore, and I just...

suppose you just lose.

You lose the desire,
and you just don't end up...

You know,
I just didn't fucking care anymore, really.

In the past, relationships, failure,
has just been drowning me

and taking me down.

I need to find a bit of myself right now

and work out what it is that...

I wanna do in my life
and certainly not live this...

tragic roundabout anymore, really.

It's just been a vicious circle.

JAMES: I dunno, I was always like,
you know, if my label fell apart tomorrow,

I'd rather have a lot...
A load of nice looking records at home.

Toys, stickers...

um, trainers, clothes, photos,
paintings, cassettes.

DJ Shadow, DJ Shadow.

Where I met my daughter's mum.

And then I've got my record collection,
which sort of spans a lot of here,

and here, and here, and here, and here...

and here, and here.

A lot of great memories,
there's a lot of very, you know...

It's sad, you know.

Sad. It's sad, sad, sad.

Trying to store something like this
over 20 years, it's cost me a fortune.

Sometimes you think,

well, what, have I been mad
and spent money unwisely?

The sad thing with War Stories
and Where Did the Night Fall

is it's exactly the point
where dance music and electronic music

was really starting to take off
and in a big, big way,

and he went the other way.

And he missed the boat in a big way.

He does put his trust in a lot of people,

and sometimes people will take
until there's nothing left,

because they see James
as a path to something bigger

than where they're at in their lives.

Funny how certain things
just constantly reoccur.

When Mo'Wax finished,

I kind of just put everything into storage
and threw away the keys.

It's a beautiful collection of dreams,
what you can create.

What I'd like to do is to be able
to show that whole culture

with an exhibition and a book.

James and I had met each other,

and he was telling me
about all the projects he had coming up,

so the book, um, the plan
to do an exhibition of Mo'Wax.

We started talking about
whether we might work together.

Meltdown is our annual curated festival
at the Southbank centre.

We ask an artist to come

and basically free reign
across the 20 acre site

for them to choose their favourite artist
from music, dance, theatre.

We've worked with all sorts of people
in the past 20 years,

from Yoko Ono, Morrissey, Patti Smith,
John Peel, Lee Scratch Perry,

David Bowie, Nick Cave, um...

It became more and more apparent

that James was an interesting candidate
for the role.

I'd met with Jane and she was like,
"Why don't you curate Meltdown?"

"Oh my god. Really? Wow."

This was the greatest opportunity
to bring everything back together.

It was the greatest moment
you could imagine.

I mean, I was really...
I'm... I'm... I'm really, you know,

of course, I'm... I'm incredibly flattered
and I'm incredibly honoured.

Southbank, which is one of
the most important cultural landmarks

in England, in the world.

I'm back in it, you know.

Meltdown has given me a deadline, you know.
It's given a reason, you know.

Does anyone remember who I am?

When we said yes to Meltdown,

I just composed myself because how the fuck
are we gonna ever do this?

Wow, my first Filofax of all the people
that I used to work with.

James opened his very big black book

of previous collaborators,
friends, artists.

We all expected
everyone would jump at the chance,

and in all honesty not everyone did.

The same, you know, vulture
starts circling the head,

and the same resentment starts coming out

because the Mo'Wax fall out
was a painful period of time

for a lot of people.

I for one, felt like I'd lost a friend,
you know.

There are these people
that have got all this resentment.

They've never actually sat down with James
and been like,

"Let's hug it out and move forward".

There are too many unsaid conversations.

If every single relationship
that you have, creatively, breaks down

then you might wanna, you know,
take a look in that mirror

because the chances are...

you don't need to be Sigmund Freud
to work out that, you know,

it might be you that's the problem.


Massive Attack,
we thought was gonna be in the bag,

but it... it ended up not being in the bag

at the absolute eleventh hour.

It was a really scary moment
because we were really, really close

and there was what felt like
a gaping hole in the programme.

James was feeling
like he had disappointed people.

PAUL: There was a couple
of disappointments there,

in terms of people
he probably would've liked to have had on.

I think Massive Attack
should've been on the bill.

They embodied everything
that he wanted to do.

Urn, James realised
what a gargantuan thing he'd taken on.

INTERVIEWER: How is it, getting involved
in the whole Meltdown thing?

A lot of horse-trading...

JAMES: It's everything.
I've put my soul on the line for this shit.

It's a once in a lifetime opportunity and...

Absolutely everything
was at stake for James.

James Lavelle curating the 21st 'Meltdown'.

An honour really. Very, very proud of that.

Right, we're gonna talk about 'Meltdown'.

JAMES: I'm doing a Mo'Wax exhibition
as part of 'Meltdown'.

It's gonna be a wonderful ten days,
so enjoy.

Thanks very much.

Meltdown is a huge thing.
You know, it's a big deal.

The greats have curated there.

It's a real honour for James.

It's the musical equivalent of...
of being knighted.

It's a recognition
that you had an influence on the arts.

SWIFTY: When I heard
that James had got Meltdown,

I was... I was so chuffed.

He's not David Bowie,
he's not Yoko Ono,

but for the nineties generation
of music buyers,

he is as important.

The culture, the history,
the things that one has been involved with,

in many ways has been publicly validated.

The fact that James
did something called Meltdown.

That's already funny. That's...
You know what I mean?

I knew it meant a lot to him,
so it meant a lot to me 'cos we're friends.

I was in the middle of making
the most difficult thing I had made,

which is Like Clockwork.

James said, "Can we just do something?"

JAMES: Josh had been working
on his Queens of the Stone Age record,

so I went to L.A and recorded this song,

Like Clockwork, with Josh.

JOSH: In this collaboration,
James, in a way, he almost just drew

an outside shape in... in...
Of a colouring book and you colour in.

JAMES: Like Clockwork
became the title track for his album,

and had gone to number one in America,
so, fuck.

Number one in America
and then Meltdown.

Meltdown was the most successful Meltdown

that's ever happened,
in terms of ticket sales.

How the fuck did we pull this off?

INTERVIEWER: UNKLE at one point in time
was you and DJ Shadow.

JAMES: Lots of people have come
and worked on it over the years.

I'm doing my show,
the first UNKLE show in a while.

For somebody like James Lavelle

to still be doing UNKLE stuff,

committing to it and,
and playing all these songs live, as well,

it shows that he cares about it
and cared about it from the first day.

He sort of stands up as a, sort of,
one man music industry kind of machine,

you know, that's never played ball,
you know,

constantly, sort of, evolving.

OSMAN: Genius comes
in very temperamental vessels

and if he had rough edges

or if he thought himself
the centre of the universe

for a period of time,

makes no difference.

All that matters is the work
that he created.

"When Things Explode" by UNKLE

All is forgiven.

# We're standing here #

# At the edge of time #

MUSIC: "What Does Your Soul Look Like?"
(Part 2) by DJ Shadow

MUSIC: "Stem/Long Stem/ Transmission 2"
by DJ Shadow

Aw, look at that.

INTERVIEWER: Ok, shall we start
at the beginning?


Is it gonna be the James I remember,

or is it gonna be dark and tortured James?

He seemed healthier,
seems like he's kind of turned the page.

Doesn't matter whether
you're behind the mic

or what role you're playing,

I respect you as an artist.

This is for you and this is uh...

you know, a way for people
to be able to again, mobilise on his behalf

and try to achieve something
better than the sum of all the parts.

"Lead Me Home" by Luminous

Be still now.

I am with you.

I am deep within you.

You are at peace.

You cannot be harmed.

You will not suffer.

Breathe deeply.

Breathe in the healing love
of the universe.

And breathe out the sickness
which has taken you.

I am with you.

DJ SHADOW: This wasn't just something
that happens anytime,

I hadn't done any UNKLE material live
since we did Top of the Pops.

The music is still something
that I believe in, and...

we all wanna do our best for James,

and then for him to kinda bury the hatchet
with all these people from his past.

There was a lot
of positive energy around it.

J.P. DUNCAN: They're doing a show together.
They're doing two shows together.

They're DJing together,
which they haven't done

for a very, very long time.

DJ SHADOW: James is constantly
reaching for the stars, and I think,

it takes mad dreamers on both sides
to come together and make history.

He is an artist in his own right.

Where an artist may use a paintbrush,
James will use a person.

It's brave because a paintbrush
can't answer back.

If I was a tool in his artistic vision,
then it was a lot of fun.

NATHAN: Who is it that says
that you need to make music

in this way and not that way?

The architect has to physically
put the bricks on top of each other,

is this what we're saying?

That's a... That's a nonsense.

Imagine all music that was made
was written on a guitar.

That's a disaster.

CHARLIE: He gave me a chance,
and he gave lots of people chances,

lots of people who would never
have been given chances by anyone else.

I love James to bits and I always will.

The friendship
is what was important to me.

Friends he's fallen out with,

all of those kind of things,

I think they weigh
pretty heavily on you.

You enjoy something more

when you struggle to get it.

You learn, and you grow,
and you learn,

and get your blessings and your lessons,
and you learn and you grow

and you go from there.

Thank you very much.
Who says that dreams can't come true?

JAMES: You have to believe
in what you believe in,

and happier are those that dream dreams

and are willing to pay the price
to see those dreams come true.

I've had a lot of growing up to do.

I fucked up.

In many ways it's my fault.

It's been very lonely.

I've fallen out with people
that I really loved.

Time does heal.
Somethings it doesn't, unfortunately,

but I've seen what I wanna be,
what I don't wanna be.

It's like looking at yourself
in the biggest mirror you've ever seen.

ATMOSPHERIC VOICE: # You see things in life,
and you'd be surprised what you see #

# Life, your whole life, is changes #

# One second you got it made #

# Next second you're down in the dumps #

# And it goes back and forth
throughout your whole life #

# One second you got
the most beautiful girl in the world #

# Next second
you don't even have a girlfriend, no more #

# And it goes back and forth
and back and forth, you know #

# And this is life man. It's changes #

# This is what you gotta go through
throughout your whole lifetime #

JAMES: I feel like there's a lot of stuff
I can put behind me.

I see this as the beginning.

The great alien fortune teller
has wisdom for you.

"Your fortune:

Oh, how you love to whistle and sing

Oh how you love to dance and swing

Your future life with joy would ring

With all happiness it will bring

You have a very sympathetic nature.

You do devote a great many hours
to the welfare of others.

You have a very fine mind,

and if you cultivate it properly,
you'll be very successful.

You always walk as though
you know exactly where you're going.

People will respect you
for your determination.

You will endure some hardship
in the near future,

but eventually everything will turn out
for the best.

An unending happiness will be yours."

Play again?

"Alphabet Aerobics" by Blackalicious

# Now it's turn for our rap up #

# Let's give it everything we've got #

# Ready? Begin #

BLACKALICIOUS: # Artificial amateurs,
Aren't at all amazing #

# Analytically, I assault, animate things #

# Broken barriers bounded
by the bomb beat #

# Buildings are broken,
basically I'm bombarding #

# Casually create catastrophes,
casualties #

# Cancelling cats
got their canopies collapsing #

# Detonate a dime of dank daily
doin' dough #

# Demonstrations,
Don Dada on the down low #

# Eatin' other editors
with each and every energetic #

# Epileptic episode, elevated etiquette #

# Furious fat fabulous fantastic #

# Flurries of funk
felt feeding the fanatics #

# Gift got great
global goods gone glorious #

# Gettin' godly in his game
with the goriest #

# Hit 'em high, hella height, historical #

# Hey holocaust hints
hear 'em holler at your homeboy #

# imitators idolize, I intimidate #

# In a instant, I'll rise in a irate state #

# Juiced on my jams
like jheri curls jockin' joints #

# Justly, it's just me,
writin' my journals #

# Kindly I'm kindling
all kinds of ink on #

# Karate kick type brits in my kingdom #

# Let me live a long life,
lyrically lessons is #

# Learned lame louses
just lose to my livery #

# My mind makes marvellous moves,
masses #

# Marvel and move,
many mock what I've mastered #

# Niggas nap knowin' I'm nice naturally #

# Knack, never lack,
make noise nationally #

# Operation, opposition, off,
not optional #

# Out of sight, out of mind,
wide beaming opticals #

# Perfected poem, powerful punchlines #

# Pummelling petty powder puffs in my prime #

# Quite quaint quotes keep quiet,
it's Quannum #

# Quarrelers ain't got a quarter
of what we got uh #

# Really raw raps, risin up rapidly #

# Riding the rushing radioactivity #

# Super scientifical sound search sought #

# Silencing super fire saps
that are soft #

# Tales ten times talented, too tough #

# Take that, challengers, get a tune up #

# Universal, unique untouched #

# Unadulterated, the raw uncut #

# Verb vice lord victorious valid #

# Violate vibes that are vain
make 'em vanished #

# While I'm all well
would a wise wordsmith just #

# Weaving up words weeded up,
I'm a workshift #

# Xerox, my X-ray-diation holes
extra large #

# X-height letters, and Xylophone tones #

# Yellow back, yak mouth,
young ones yaws #

# Yesterday's lawn yardsale, I yawn #

# Zig zag zombies, zoomin to the zenith #

# Zero in zen thoughts,
overzealous rhyme ZEA-LOTS! #


# Good. Can you say it faster? #