James Lavelle's guide to Meltdown

The man in charge talks us through some of this year's festival highlights

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  • UNKLE

    Friday June 13. Royal Festival Hall

    As well as having founded the influential Mo’Wax label, Lavelle leads genre-hopping electronic group UNKLE. They open Meltdown, with guest appearances by other artists playing the series.

    ‘UNKLE kinda went off on a rock ’n’ roll band thing for a while and that was great, but I see this show as bringing it back to something really cerebral and joyous. I’m working with a really great arranger and musician called Mara Carlyle. It’s a classically led show, with a 40-piece choir. Mark Lanegan will be singing, as well as others like Rosie Lowe, Leila Moss [from The Duke Spirit], Keaton Henson and myself. The London Contemporary Orchestra will also be performing with us, and we’ve done a load of new visual content too. I’ve just got my fingers crossed that everything will be all right.’

    Read more about UNKLE at Meltdown

  • Keton Henson

    Monday June 16. Queen Elizabeth Hall

    Despite suffering near-crippling stage fright, singer-songwriter Henson is playing Meltdown to a sell-out crowd of 900.

    ‘I just think he’s amazing – he just has one of those voices. It’s so beautiful and his performances are done with such feeling. I think it’s quite frightening for him because it’s not something he gravitates towards. I actually thought it was going to be a lot more complicated to persuade him to do it.’

    Read more about Keaton Henson at Meltdown

  • DJ Harvey

    Thursday June 19. London Wonderground

    ‘He’s a DJ’s DJ, in the sense that he’s somebody who’s always discovering records and is brilliant at playing long eclectic sets. He did remixes for Mo’Wax and a lot of the clubs that we were doing. At one point I actually tried to get his ex-wife Heidi to run Mo’Wax! I think what’s interesting with him as well is how contemporary he is for a lot of young people. He’s a bit of an east London hero, really. He’s a DJ of legend and mythology!’

    Read more about DJ Harvey at Meltdown

  • Goldie/ The Heritage Orchestra

    Saturday June 21. Royal Festival Hall

    The gold-toothed drum ’n’ bass supremo has enlisted an orchestra for the first ever full live performance of his seminal album ‘Timeless’.

    ‘I’ve found it interesting with Meltdown that I’ve ended up working with certain people I never thought I’d work with. Having Goldie involved is a great honour. It signifies more than just his music but about his influence as someone I aspired to be when I was a young. As a kid our bible was [seminal 1987 graffiti book] ‘Spraycan Art’. Goldie and 3D [from Massive Attack] were the only two British writers in there. That’s what we read in art lessons at school, to the disdain of the teacher. They were our heroes.’

    Read more about Goldie at Meltdown

  • Benji B

    Friday June 20. Queen Elizabeth Hall

    For his show ‘Deviation Strings’, the Radio 1 DJ (and Kanye West collaborator) combines DJing and live orchestral arrangements.

    ‘He reminds me of myself, when I first started doing [long-running Soho club night] That’s How It Is with Gilles Peterson. His show, his taste, his involvement with Kanye is all pretty amazing. He grew up going to the Southbank, so was really keen to use the opportunity to give this project its London debut there.’

    Read more about Benji B at Meltdown

  • Bugged Out v Mo'Wax

    Saturday June 14. Fire

    Lavelle and DJ Shadow take to the decks at Vauxhall club Fire.

    ‘It’s the first time that the Southbank have worked on an external club night like this. I wanted to do it with Bugged Out because I’ve worked with them for years, and Shadow and I have been talking for years about doing a set like this, but it’s taken a long time. Due to practicality, not from an emotional point of view.’

    Read more about Bugged Out v Mo'Wax

  • Nick Zinner: 41 Strings

    Friday June 20. Royal Festival Hall

    ‘I’m a big fan of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and I think he’s a really interesting character. His piece is written for 41 string instruments and it’s really beautiful. Romy from The XX is one of the people playing it, as well as Gemma from Savages and Seye and Jeff Wooten, who play with Damon Albarn. He hasn’t done it in London yet, but it felt like something befitting the Royal Festival Hall.’

    Read more about Nick Zinner at Meltdown

  • Sunday Come Down

    Sunday June 22. Festival Terrace, Riverside Terrace and Foyer Spaces

    ‘It’s an afternoon where myself, Horse Meat Disco, Don Letts and others are playing records outside. We’ve got Jeremy Deller’s Acid Brass band coming down as well. It’s more about family fun – people can come for free and hang out for a kinda carnival vibe.’

    Read more about Sunday Come Down

UNKLE

Friday June 13. Royal Festival Hall

As well as having founded the influential Mo’Wax label, Lavelle leads genre-hopping electronic group UNKLE. They open Meltdown, with guest appearances by other artists playing the series.

‘UNKLE kinda went off on a rock ’n’ roll band thing for a while and that was great, but I see this show as bringing it back to something really cerebral and joyous. I’m working with a really great arranger and musician called Mara Carlyle. It’s a classically led show, with a 40-piece choir. Mark Lanegan will be singing, as well as others like Rosie Lowe, Leila Moss [from The Duke Spirit], Keaton Henson and myself. The London Contemporary Orchestra will also be performing with us, and we’ve done a load of new visual content too. I’ve just got my fingers crossed that everything will be all right.’

Read more about UNKLE at Meltdown



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