James Lavelle has been tinkering behind the decks under the UNKLE moniker for over a decade now, but on the project’s third album, War Stories, the soft-spoken Englishman and Mo’Wax label founder gives it up — Lavelle lends vocals to a host of tracks and earlier this month, he and a full band traveled stateside for UNKLE’s first ever U.S. tour. Minus Richard File on vocals, and joined by cast of musicians including South’s Joel Cadbury and Gavin Clark of British electronica act Clayhill, UNKLE capped the six-date jaunt in the Glitter Gulch.
During their near-90 minute performance, UNKLE offered Psyence Fiction faves like “Lonely Soul” and “Rabbit in Your Headlights” but certainly one of the fest’s biggest surprises was when Chicago-born MC and UNKLE fan Lupe Fiasco, who performed his own Vegoose show on Saturday afternoon, stuck around an extra day to deliver “Hello/Goodbye” as a show closer. The Fiasco-penned tune finds the rapper dropping rhymes and new melodies over the War tune “Chemistry,” and will be featured on Fiasco’s forthcoming LP in the New Year.
Here, the collaboration-savvy mastermind Lavelle chats a bit about who he’d like to work with next, UNKLE’s future plans as a band, and his recent nuptials in the Entertainment Capital of the World. INTERVIEW BY MACKENZIE WILSON / FILMED AND EDITED BY ERIC NOWELS