Today, James Lavelle's UNKLE return with the uplifting new track, ‘Do Yourself Some Good’. The single, which premiered last night on Mary Anne Hobbs show on BBC 6Music, is taken from the forthcoming mixtape, ‘Rōnin I’ set for a March 26th release on Studio: UNKLE.
When the lockdown started in Spring 2020, it was assumed that Summer shows would just be postponed by a few months. UNKLE had a busy schedule of touring planned, which was going to be based around a more dance-orientated show that had premiered at Fabric for their 20th-anniversary celebrations. What was initially a return to the studio to remix tracks from 'The Road' albums for the scheduled tour, soon evolved into a pair of full-length releases, featuring new tracks alongside the reimagined ones. The two forthcoming 'Rōnin’ mixtapes are rooted in the club culture that James Lavelle comes from.
“ ‘Rōnin’ was an idea that started in lockdown back in June 2020 where Steven (Weston) and I started doing some remixes for a new set we thought we would be playing later in the year. As the lockdown continued and any hope of live shows disappeared, we decided to work on it as a mixtape where we could create an hours worth of new remixes and incorporate brand new tracks in the spirit of a new live show, but give it a proper release due to the circumstances.”, James says.
“I wanted to take a look at my work across ‘The Road’ period and create club versions of particular tracks, reflecting the mood of where we are, but to also take it into an optimistic uplifting place. To create a mix that felt like both letting go and coming together - the best things that club music can do to take you on a journey through all the eclectic elements of a set I love to play. I looked at certain songs where I felt the lyrics were in feeling with the current world we are living in. Most of the songs were recorded before Covid-19 hit, there was a lot of struggle, uncertainty and political change and unrest at that time. The pandemic has just amplified that, so I felt the songs still resonated with today’s situation giving them a new lease of life.”
Compiling the series of mixes, James was inspired by his 'That’s How It Is' night, (which he ran with Gilles Peterson at London’s Bar Rumba,) digging in the crates and returning to the tracks played there (as well as at the ‘Dusted’ sessions at the Blue Note). “I also used the opportunity to work on some new music. Each record contains two brand new recordings where I got to break some habits and experiment with ideas that I had been thinking of for a while.”
The tracks from these studio sessions take the energy from that period in club culture, as well as James' consistent relationship with contemporary dance music, from his residency at Fabric through to his seminal Global Underground and UNKLE: Sounds mixes. They are rooted in classic Mo’ Wax spirit and given a contemporary twist through the use of modern production techniques. ”The record is meant to be like a night out at a party or club from the beginning of the night to the end, or a new UNKLE: Sounds show.” explains Lavelle, “It’s the set I dream of playing out in a festival or club when we finally get to come together and dance again!”
‘Rōnin I’ was produced in collaboration with Steven Weston, the long time musical director of the UNKLE: Live show and a former Grammy nominee. Part II will see Lavelle working with West London multi-instrumentalist Miink, who has featured on a number of UNKLE tracks over the past five years, amongst others. But that’s another story...