Urban Archaeology: 30 years of Mo’ Wax Records.
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Mo' Wax confirmed itself as a hotbed of interdisciplinary artists and springboard for future icons, globally recognized for being at the forefront of trip hop, turntablism and alternative hip hop during the mid-1990s.

The iconic record label celebrates Its anniversary with a once-in-a-lifetime collab with PLEASURES.

It’s 1992 and Britain is the center of the music scene.

Brit Pop teaches how to be in the world, what to listen to, how to dress, and even what attitude to have in public; James Lavelle is a 24-year-old record enthusiast from Oxford, precocious and ambitious, eager to break through as an underground artist in a landscape saturated with indie rock.

James founds a label, Mo’ Wax Records, discovers an overweight nerd from San Francisco named Joshua Paul Davis, who will become known to the world under the pseudonym DJ Shadow, and with him forms a band destined to make music history, to rewrite its contours and mechanics, eventually creating a new musical subgenre somewhere between industrial hip hop, garage, house, dub, techno: trip hop.

Their U.N.K.L.E. project is ambitious: a super band involving key figures in British alternative rock such as Thom Yorke of Radiohead, Robert Del Naja of Massive Attack, Jarvis Cocker of Pulp, and other illustrious and occasional collaborators who contribute to the project’s success even before it begins.

The first two records are well-received, but something is changing: money management and drug taking threaten the band’s future. In the meantime, Mo’ Wax Records gathers around it a lineup of pretty good artists, including DJ Krush, DJ Shadow, Blackalicious, AIR, David Axelrod and Money Mark. At the core of Mo’ Wax‘s sound is trip hop, but also a lot of experimentation: the idea is to release record after record, in a continuous turnover of releases, at a time in history when records are selling like hotcakes.

Mo’ Wax Records and Futura 2000.

In Berlin, in 1993, James met a New York-based artist named Leonard McGurr, better known as Futura 2000, or simply Futura: he became fascinated by his futuristic android characters, shrouded in sinister color halos, are the graphic representation of Mo’ Wax’s sounds.

Lavelle commissioned the graffiti artist to produce artworks for several of his label’s covers, among them, several U.N.K.L.E. albums – from the early 1990s to the mid-2000s.

Thanks to Mo’ Wax, Futura 2000’s name and his pointman characters circulate in Europe through covers of albums such as DJ Shadow’s Lost And Found, UNKLE’s EP The Time Has Come (to name a few) making them known to audiences on the old continent.

Mo’ Wax confirmed itself as a hotbed of interdisciplinary artists and springboard for future icons, globally recognized for being at the forefront of trip hop, turntablism and alternative hip hop during the mid-1990s.

Although nurtured deep inside, its history would last only 10 years: in 1996 Lavelle would sell it to A&M Records – now part of Universal Music Group which would take over the entire catalog of artists discovered and launched by him, then close for good in 2002. In 2014 Lavelle himself would organize a monumental exhibition for the label’s 21st anniversary, “Urban Archaeology: 21 years of Mo’ Wax Records,” and after six years, on the occasion of its 30th anniversary, the former founder wanted to celebrate with an extraordinary collaboration, involving Roland Lifestyle, Pleasures and artist Eric Haze.

The Mo’ Wax x UNKLE x PLEASURES capsule collection features eye-catching designs, features hoodies, T-shirts with typically “Pleasures”-style patterns and prints that replace the brand’s L.A. logo, Lavelle’s band name, UNKLE; co-branded caps, references to the Roland Boutique TB-03 line.

Discover the Limited Edition Capsule Collection, HERE.

 

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