This Fourth of July, as our friends across the pond celebrate Independence Day I've decided to honour a different kind of independents... Independent Record Labels.
As our musical landscape becomes increasingly homogenised and mainstream (with risk averse major labels less willing than ever to throw their energies and cheque books behind artists that are seen as left-field or unlikely to be "profitable"), it's all the more important to celebrate those labels born out of a genuine passion for the music itself and a desire to share it with the world.
Created by mavericks, dare devils and music lovers with impeccable taste, the founders of indie labels risked (and sometimes lost) it all in their singular quest to bring innovative, varied and deserving music to the forefront, and for that I will always be grateful to them.
Without labels such as Mute Records, Creation, Domino Records and Rough Trade we may never have heard the likes of Oasis, The Smiths, The Kills, My Bloody Valentine or The Libertines. We may never have seen Arctic Monkeys headline Glastonbury, danced around on a Friday night to The Strokes, or sung along in one big chorus to "and after aaaaaall, you're my Wonderwaaaaall" (wedding parties, i'm looking at you).
My radio show on Xfm is a testament to how loved and important these artists have become and so, this fourth of July... I want to declare "Independents Day" and share the stories of four of the world's best loved indie labels.
Mute Records, Rough Trade, Creation and Domino Records were each founded by people with tenacity, imagination, bravery, a DIY ethos and a devil-may care attitude. Their names are Daniel Miller, Geoff Travis, Alan McGee and Laurence Bell, and they were all kind enough to share their stories with us, alongside many of the artists they signed: Nick Cave, The Strokes, The Libertines, Arctic Monkeys, Erasure, Franz Ferdinand, The Kills, Primal Scream, The Charlatans and many more.
Their stories are as varied as the music they put out, but each share one common desire, to have the world hear the music they believe in.
The first episode focuses on Mute Records (which brought us Depeche Mode, Yazoo, Grinderman, Mody, Goldfrapp, Erasure and many more) and includes special guest interviews with Nick Cave and Erasure. A new episode/story will follow every Friday for the next month and I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed making them.
And this fourth of July, if you are at an Independence Day party, remember to take a moment to doff your cap to those other "independents" who risked it all to all to bring us the music you may well be dancing around to.