James Lavelle and His Family of Artists

James Gaunt
3 min readJul 7, 2019

James Lavelle, of Mo’ Wax Records and UNKLE fame, was not the first member of his family to enter the music industry and in fact followed in the footsteps of his father and father’s father in his devotion to music, and the families appreciation of art.

Gabriel Lavelle

Born Anthony Joseph Gabriel Lavelle, in Galway Ireland on 19 March 1895, Gabriel Lavelle had originally qualified as a civil engineer and took up singing as a hobby. While working construction at Birmingham Town Hall, Gabriel’s humming was overheard by Birmingham’s Music Director and an audition followed. This led Gabriel to consider singing as a career, and in 1930 he travelled to Vienna to study “German Lieder,” according to his son Micheal. Gabriel toured Ireland and England, and appeared regularly on BBC Radio. He can be in seen in 1937 singing The Garden where the Praties Grow:

Dorothy Clifton

Born in Dublin, Ireland in 1913 as Margaret Dorothea but better known as Dorothy, she attended the Royal Irish Academy of Music, playing both the cello and piano and later played principle cello with Radio Eireann. Dorothy and Gabriel Lavelle met when she was playing cello in a concert he was singing in and they married in Dublin in 1945 before moving to England. They had two sons, Gabriel in 1946 followed by Micheal in 1947.

On 28 March 1960 her husband Gabriel died at the age of 65 and Dorothy returned to music, becoming a cello teacher to make ends meet, teaching at the Dragon School located in Oxford where she also moved her family. On October 19 2010, Dorothy died at the age of 97.

Gabriel J C Lavelle

Born in 1946, Gabriel studied Classics at Trinity College, Oxford while his brother Micheal followed him at Trinity to study Medicine. Gabriel played multiple instruments and began playing in music groups, from Folk, Classical, and Jazz. For a short time he joined the Irish Folk group The Dubliners but retired from music to become a lawyer to better support his family.

In July 1970 Gabriel married Jennifer Smith-Parr, a Psychotherapist, Dance Teacher, and practising Stencil Artist. They had three children together, James, Henry, and Aidan, but in 1986, when James was 12 years old, his parents separated and Gabriel Lavelle moved out. Gabriel later became a sponsor of the American pianist Rosalyn Tureck in the later years of her life before she died in 2003. He considered her to be the greatest player of Bach.

James Gabriel Leo Lavelle

Born in 1974 James started Mo’ Wax Records in 1992 and released albums by DJ Shadow, Nigo, Money Mark, and his own UNKLE group. Outside of music James Lavelle has also collaborated frequently with the fashion world, including BAPE, Nike, and Supreme, and in 2003 started his own clothing line Surrender with Earn Chen in Singapore.

Henry Julius Theo Lavelle

Born 1977, Henry worked for Mo’ Wax in the 1990’s in various roles, from tour manager to creating innovative packaging. Henry co-founded Mo’ Wax Arts which was responsible for toys and exhibitions for Mo’ Wax. This was later reborn as Surrender Arts, as part of James Lavelle’s new Surrender All record label, and Surrender clothing line, and Henry continued working with the company.

In 1998 Henry started his own company, Modo Productions, which focused on innovative packaging for groups such as Sigur Ros and Coldplay, while also working with Mo’ Wax and other record labels. Following Modo’s acquisition in 2016 Henry founded a new company 88Create which continues his interest in innovative packaging, and the group recently worked on UNKLE’s 2019 album The Road Part II.

Aidan Patrick Augustine Lavelle

Born 1979, from a young age Aidan was taught piano by his Grandmother Dorothy. This early introduction to music continued through his school years where he completed a Degree in Commercial Music at Westminster University. During his final year at University Aidan was signed to Parlophone Records and remixed the Gorillaz Film Music in 2002. He would next remix UNKLE’s Eye For An Eye in 2003 before joining UNKLE and contributing to four of their albums, several remixes, advertising, and film soundtracks, including the end titles for X Files — I Want To Believe.

Aidan released a handful of solo releases under the moniker Mode and Ficta before releasing a solo album under his own name in 2012.



James Gaunt

An Australian writer with a passion for research. James edits music fanzine The Shadow Knows and writes regularly about Mo’ Wax Records. www.jamesgaunt.com