An extended conversation with the man from Mo'Wax and Unkle.
Working in the music industry is an existence in which heaven and hell are both possible states, with dreams regularly being made and destroyed. That's the takeaway you might get from The Man From Mo'Wax, the recent documentary from director Matthew Jones that tells the story of the English label owner and artist James Lavelle. And what a story (and soundtrack) it is. Lavelle's career has been marked by impossible highs and lows, beginning in the early '90s when he cofounded Mo'Wax, the highly influential label that became known as the home of trip-hop but released vital electronic music from across the spectrum.
The film deals with the enormous success of Mo'Wax releases like DJ Shadow's Entroducing..... and Unkle's Psyence Fiction, the later collapse of the label as it was chewed up by the major label system, and Lavelle's ongoing quest to achieve greatness through his main musical project, Unkle. But it's the film's uncommon candidness that makes it essential viewing. We see Lavelle dealing with the breakdown of creative and personal relationships, drug abuse and serious financial difficulties, all while attempting to realise his grandest ambitions. The ten-year process of making the film has taken something of a personal toll on Lavelle, which is where we began this extended conversation, recorded at his home in South London earlier this month.