Pioneering UK Indie?

This week, in the run-up to the AIM Independent Music Awards this November I was asked to nominate the most pioneering UK Indie label founder and most inspirational Uk indie artist of all time.

Before choosing it seemed wise to take soundings from my friends on Twitter and I duly threw out the question. There were so many excellent suggestions that I’ve posted the whole thread here so as to open up the debate. If you feel strongly about any of these nominations please feel post a comment below…

Like Twitter, this is in reverse chronological order so to follow the conversation open the full post and start from the bottom of the page…

Rough Trade

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BloodyWilliam William Bloody
YES. >>> RT @ninguna Who else could it be? Tony Wilson and Joy Division.
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stupjr Stuart Pierre Jr.
Label founders Steve Beckett, Rob Mitchell, Robert Gordon: Warp Records Artist: Joy Division/New Order
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adamczuk James Adamczuk
what about Roisin Murphy, Let Me Know from her Overpowered album on Echo Records, massively underrated! Indie classic
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iblametheparent Martin Brimicombe
possibly missed but Small Wonder. And Some Bizzare. And my own I Blame The Parents Records while I’m bloody at it!
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freshnet Tom Robinson
@marycigarettes re Rhymin Simon & Bob Zim – ahem – candidates need to be UK based as well as inspirational. Erm, also on UK indie label :-)
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marycigarettes mary cigarettes
a great example of an indie artist on a major label is paul simon.he’s in charge.signed his publishing to HIMSELF from day one
there have been many ones on indie labels who were anything but indie minded….mel and kim…..rick astley.
i’d say bob dylan,inspite of him being on a major label for a whole lifetime is the embodiment of the independent artist.
i’d say in essence he IS an independent artist.he’s less beholden to folk that most. the core of independence is a frame of mind.
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RaleghLong Ralegh Long
@danieljcampbell He was actually indie for you are the quarry (attackcdooo1)
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danieljcampbell Daniel Campbell
In hindsight I’d have to agree – he’s not quite the embodiment of the true ‘independent’ ideal as he once was, quiff or no quiff.
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freshnet Tom Robinson
@RaleghLong @danieljcampbell Moz is so unsigned he’ll HAVE to become indie!
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RaleghLong Ralegh Long
@danieljcampbell He’s so indie he can’t get signed!
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LothiansKen Ken O’Neill
Nope, you’re not wrong. Plus he’s a tax dodger as well.
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freshnet Tom Robinson
Not what you’d really call an Indie artist anymore – or am i wrong? RT @danieljcampbell: Steven Patrick Morrissey, surely
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danieljcampbell Daniel Campbell
Steven Patrick Morrissey, surely?
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BloodyWilliam William Bloody
would Tony Wilson of Factory Records count?RT Suggeststions pls – who would YOU nominate as most pioneering UK Indie label founder
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Roblex Robin Hart-Jones
If it aint Stiff it aint worth a f*ck!
23 hours
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VonPip VonPipMusicalExpress
Facebook page for @BBC6Music music show we contibute to.where the online community shape the playlist. http://tinyurl.com/44hu9h8 @freshnet
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vacuouspop ady vpop/grmpy bstrd
and on another Scottish tip, Rock Action too Tom!
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emmalsegal Emma Segal
noone mentioned mr bell at domino? Shocking!
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BroknHeadphones Mick Collins
At first I was gonna say Stiff, but then I realised the answer was Mute for label. For artist, The Sex Pistols.
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ghostocain alun phillips
Crass for both
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rougeit Steve Messam
Ivo Watts Russell. 4AD – whole catalogue hangs together so well both audibly & visually.
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ChrisPJMartin Chris Martin
Just found out @back_beat_ were on last night. iPlayer-ing that bad boy as we speak! … http://tmi.me/dv7Co
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Rich_W27 Richard Weir
Pioneering? Sarah records had that DIY ethos and attitude- The Field Mice and The Orchids were fab too.
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TopDuffer John Burden
Anyone else mention Daniel Miller of Mute?
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killroccorecs Kill Rocco Records
around the world in Blackburn for a true indie knowing what they’re doing. Be it without guitars X
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Declaniom Declan IOM
Island, Trojan, 2-Tone, Rough Trade, Mute, 4AD, Warp, Creation, Stiff, Radar, New Hormones, Postcard, Ninja Tune, Fat Cat, Go Disc
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KarenAms Karen Amsden
Fence Collective and now the fab Mercury nom for King Cresote
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here_comes_B Mathew Heath
Tom-does this sway it any? From BU. “@bellaunion: @here_comes_B my vote goes to geoff travis.”
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createproducts John Smith
RT RT @Buzfuz: Fac, R Trade n Creation all good calls but don’t forget … ————————————————————
cerebralsalad Kalpesh Thankey
has no-one mentioned Warp Records yet and their diverse range of artists?
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eyeseaewe Tiffany Little
@ErasedTapes Record’s founder Robert Raths, without a doubt.
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Lachsantihoot Lach’s Antihoot
@oakelmash Jake and Stiff. My two cents American which is about a cent UK
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jimmydavisdavis Jimmy Davis
Nizlopi were a great independent duo and proved that the charts could be conquered independently
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marycigarettes mary cigarettes
and for house music,simon dunmore at defected.. fiercely independent after unfulfilling major label experience.
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paulfalzon Paul Falzon
it has to be Daniel Miller @ Mute but and band I would give to The Smiths (Rough Trade)
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marycigarettes mary cigarettes
then for classical, the naxos label..recording quality eastern europe orchestras and pricing cd’s for under a 5er during the boom.
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bufty65 Miss Vass
Artist : Blur (Damon) and LF: Fierce Panda
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andnowhearthis John Power
seriously though, Warp. have stayed relevant, have never shied away from upsetting fanbase, now have film co, bleep etc
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Buzfuz Joe Murphy
and of course Richard Boon and New Hormones!
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oharris69 Owen
Seeing Joe Boyd & Robyn Hitchcock bring “White Bicycles” to life in performance was amazing. Ditto re: Witchseason.
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blogibiza ade ibiza
i love this thing with Freshnet and “influential indie labels” – throwing up some right beauties and memory lane ;)
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Buzfuz Joe Murphy
Fac, R Trade n Creation all good calls but don’t forget Zoo and Fast Product
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blogibiza ade ibiza
slash records as well – is a sort of contender
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Hidden_Currents Hidden Currents
Definitely another vote for Steve Lawson (@solobasssteve) – we’re big fans of his and love how he does things :-)
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marycigarettes mary cigarettes
and what about heavenly for the magic numbers?
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Rhysbass Rhys Anslow
Small yet prominent? I nominate Steve Lawson. Pioneering, innovative & ethical in musical/business sense, a voice of reason
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MilkPressPR Milk Press PR
WARP?
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markjohnramsden MrRamsden
Was War Baby on an indie label? ’cause the majors hadn’t a clue? As usual? If we may blow our own horns…a fine yogic position
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vacuouspop ady vpop/grmpy bstrd
Chemikal Underground too!
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djwikiben DJ Wiki Ben
Wanted list to read Active v. Historic, but 140 chr limit. Factory = fav. of all time. 4AD/RT are still amazing today.
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TOBURYAGHOST TO BURY A GHOST
have always loved leaf label..always pushing amazing innovative new artists.. efterklang.. murcof..volcano..caribou.. David kosten
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thecitythesky matthew slater
factory records and xtc
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PrisonerTom Simon Porter
Alan McGee. My Bloody Valentine
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davorg Dave Cross
Getting annoyed now that Witchseason wasn’t a record label – otherwise Joe Boyd would be high on my list.
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blogibiza ade ibiza
good job tv comps dont really exist anymore or one of the majors tv divisions would already nicked the idea & doing a “indie” comp
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MikeDiver Mike Diver
Newer stables of awesomeness: Upset the Rhythm, Tri-Angle, Brainfeeder (US label, but still), Monotreme, Turnstile.
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freshnet Tom Robinson
Dave Robinson and Jake Riviera of course…
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Kaji Wendy Comeau
Or whoever founded Stiff…I always have Nick Lowe in my head.
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freshnet Tom Robinson
Dunno, that might be quite a small field :-(
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Rhysbass Rhys Anslow
Just to clarify – do you mean independent artist? As in totally independent from any form of contemporary music industry.
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here_comes_B Mathew Heath
what abt the Bristol massive? Del Naja, Daddy G, Tricky, Geoff Barrow? mebbe we could go “regional” on this?
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Kaji Wendy Comeau
Nick Lowe/Stiff Records
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marycigarettes mary cigarettes
it has to be a close draw between chris blackwell n geoff travis,cause they set up the groundbreaking templates for all to follow
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mariancole Marian Cole
Label founder – Tony Wilson of course!!!
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freshnet Tom Robinson
Blimey yes, shouldn’t forget Postcard – #OrangeJuice were honoured at MOJOs last week!
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davorg Dave Cross
Oh. I forgot Alan Horne of Postcard.
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andnowhearthis John Power
how about another JP then. Me. i’m taking making no money to new heights, truly the hallmark of a great indie See http://hotpockets.info
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ThadrinBB Dave Munro
also, for noise lovers, honourable mention to the bloke behind Earache.
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davorg Dave Cross
For label founders, either Factory (Tony Wilson) or Stiff (Dave Robinson/Jake Riviera).
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blogibiza ade ibiza
same goes with andy mcdonald at go! discs
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wrongtothetom wrongtom
with rough trade in mind, Ed Bahlman’s 99 Records deserves a mention
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LJames680News Leslie James
Come to think of it, FACTORY, Tony Wilson (and Alan Erasmus) and all the great bands/artists from there.
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here_comes_B Mathew Heath
yeah, I am not very good at this, am I? At least kevin shields wld keep PaulLewis happy *helpful face*
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headtapes Headtapes
Label founder = Daniel Miller, and Indie artist = Vince Clarke. Surely?
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ThadrinBB Dave Munro
RT @spiggums: how is “most pioneering UK indie label founder” even a question? Tony Wilson, done & done
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freshnet Tom Robinson
I’m leaning towards RoughTrade myself #showingmyage RT @RockstoneRococo: Rough Trade’s Geoff Travis. The Smiths of course
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GeneratorNE Generator
Simon Raymonde, Geoff Travis, Richard Russell and of course Martin Mills (beggars.com says it all)
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petebrookes pete brookes
Surely its John Peel with the Dandelion label? It was him who got bands he liked onto records, & then played them, creating Indie.
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TMusREVoLUTION GAVIN MARTIN
@here_comes_b kevin Coyne? Robert Wyatt? Or did indie only start with punk?
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marycigarettes mary cigarettes
has anyone doffed a hat to the brilliant daniel miller?
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cajitamusic cajita
If we’re talking independents here, then surely Warp records is up there in terms of pioneering? And Aphex Twin = inspirational.
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crow_bait crow_bait
Industrial Records and Throbbing Gristle? Or Factory Records and Joy Division? Both very influential in the Post Punk scene.
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am_klaafe Fisches Nachtgesang
Stiff Records – Dave Robinson and Andrew Jakeman/Jake Riviera
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stiggle David Priestley
Label founder: Geoff Davies from Probe Plus in Liverpool. Everything music in Liverpool since 70’s can be traced through Probe
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here_comes_B Mathew Heath
I also very much like Nat Cramp of @soniccathedral, who puts out wonderful records.
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LJames680News Leslie James
pioneering UK Indie label founder: Richard Branson et al for Virgin Records (does that count?) Probably one of the most succesful.
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marycigarettes mary cigarettes
what about that wall of sound guy mark jones?i love how he rehabilitated grace jones when major label twits branded her deadmeat.
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platypussj Joanne Harding
@neilhimself most inspirational artist? Presume this is groups too, would have to be The Cure (otherwise Robert Smith)
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ny_wineguy Brian
I would suggest Mi5 Recordings for best UK indie label for at least the past 20 years or so.
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freshnet Tom Robinson
Theres a whole radio show here
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here_comes_B Mathew Heath
as for artist, I am prevaricating between PJ Harvey, Robert Smith, Mark E Smith and Kevin Shields
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mcgauz James McGauran
Not being from the UK it’s hard to know what band is exactly “indie”. I admire Elbow’s steady and solid work ethic. What a band.
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SeanMawr Gleb Tsarev
Ivo Watts-Russell, I would say. 4AD. and as for the artists – Dead Can Dance (don’t stuff me withpins)
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freshnet Tom Robinson
Could argue the most sucessful indies sort of became majors (Branson, Blackwell)
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blogibiza ade ibiza
you could also seriously argue Alpert & Moss
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stuperrins stu perrins
artist? Mr Matt White @MOGO2814
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spielraum Kabarett Spielraum
Tony Wilson & Mark E Smith
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RockstoneRococo Rob Lockwood
Rough Trade’s Geoff Travis. The Smiths of course
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djwikiben DJ Wiki Ben
Tie: Rough Trade (Geoff Travis) & 4AD (Ivo Watts-Russell and Peter Kent). Runner-up: Factory Records (Tony Wilson & Alan Erasmus).
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ninguna Ninguna Persona
Who else could it be? Tony Wilson and Joy Division.
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MarkCockram Mark Cockram
Anthony H. Wilson of Factory Records.
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Miss_Kylie1403 Kylie
MORNING!
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glenntuazon Glenn Tuazon
Tony Wilson & The Smiths RT Who would YOU nominate as most pioneering UK Indie label founder & most inspirational UK indie artist?
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JFGinDigital3D Jack Gregson
Me
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Psalm69 Grant Hobson
Imdustrial Records- Throbbing Gristle
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wordgeeksarah Sarah Thomasin
I hadn’t realised that. She seemed so… British and indie.
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freshnet Tom Robinson
No disrespect to her, but Beyonce’s no UK indie artist :-)
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wordgeeksarah Sarah Thomasin
ima let you finish, but of ALL time? Gotta be beyonce. ;-)
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freshnet Tom Robinson
Bloody hell. There are so many pioneering greats to choose from RT @christt: Topic Records? Stock Aitken and Waterman’s PWL? ;)
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crayolathief Crayolathief
For artist, Cardiacs! I would say XTC but technically they weren’t indie, though aesthetically they were.
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Theatre_Royal_ oliver burgess
always keeping it fiercely independent Billy Childish. Once again a great ethos and aesthetic, both independent and individual.
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mcgauz James McGauran
Indie label? Does 4AD/Beggars Banquet count? Unsure of artist :)
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freshnet Tom Robinson
On this showing TW is edging ahea
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spiggums spiggums
@neilhimself how is “most pioneering UK indie label founder” even a question? Tony Wilson, done and done
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pgcd pgcd
Ivo Watts-Russel of 4AD, no question there. There’s 4AD influences everywhere in the mainstream, if you look hard enough.
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freshnet Tom Robinson
Not to mention @NinjaTune themselves RT @wrongtothetom: make that @bigdadarecords even
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christt Chris T-T
seriously tho, add me to the ‘Tony Wilson’ list. Mistakes are half the adventure (and others made equal/worse mistakes, just hid them)
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wrongtothetom wrongtom
make that @bigdadarecords even
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aaronbatsss Aaron Batley
Slampt!
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TheIndieHandbk The Indie Handbook
label founders: Dave Robinson & Jake Riviera at Stiff. Some later distribution w/ Epic and Columbia, but still, what a roster!
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freshnet Tom Robinson
Bloody hell. There are so many pioneering greats to choose fro
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christt Chris T-T
Topic Records? Stock Aitken and Waterman’s PWL? ;)
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blogibiza ade ibiza
i knew colin – (big colin ;) ) – i was at pg from about 87-94
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freshnet Tom Robinson
Yep – thats the point really: was thinking about the @AIM_UK Awards in Nov
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quarsan Andy Carling
isnt it great that there are so many good candidates
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here_comes_B Mathew Heath
geoff travis was my other option. but as it stands, in 2011, i’m sticking to raymonde of @bellaunion ;-)
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Theatre_Royal_ oliver burgess
Tony Wilson and Factory. Might have made mistakes but the ethos and aesthetic can’t be beaten.
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freshnet Tom Robinson
Not to mention @NinjaTune themselves
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wrongtothetom wrongtom
i’m bias obviously but i’d definitely put Will Ashon from @BigDadaRecordings up there with the best of them
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dominic1975 Dominic McKenna
The obvious answer is Rough Trade/ The Smiths a better answer is Cherry Red/ Felt the correct answer is Probe/ The Wedding Present
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MikeDiver Mike Diver
~AHEM Steve Beckett and Rob Mitchell at Warp #AHEM Revolutionary in domestic electronica, and with global reach.
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blogibiza ade ibiza
i know london was polygram (i was there at the time) but tracy and roger ames & tong had that ethos with london & ffrr
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vacuouspop ady vpop/grmpy bstrd
Tony Wilson for Factory Records or Ivo Watts-Russell for 4AD (with nods to Erasmus and Kent of course) for the labels.
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freshnet Tom Robinson
Surely this one’s a head+shoulders winner?
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violetyouth Andrew Schofield
Geoff Travis – Rough Trade. Brought us some amazing music.
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freshnet Tom Robinson
Yes – and Balfe is still v.active with #TheAgitator
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blogibiza ade ibiza
you could argue balfe & ross before emi stepped in
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freshnet Tom Robinson
Ah – but alas this needs to be #OfAllTime (and #StillLiving)
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JamesBurtt jamesburtt
or the guys from Transgressive, if there was an Under 30’s category to your question! @freshnet
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danielleperry Danielle Perry
Mr Robinson…a pleasure to meet you! Don’t suppose I could ask a favour of you?
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N5_1BU Just Another Gooner
Oops – missed the UK part. Sorry chap.
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freshnet Tom Robinson
Yes indeed we love em too!
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_RudieCantFail Ruth Kilpatrick
ah but what about Stephen over at @moshimoshimusic ? Excellent track record, excellent roster.
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blogibiza ade ibiza
richard russell
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freshnet Tom Robinson
Actually yes – not many to rival him RT @AndyMcH: mark e smith has to be up there [most inspirational Uk indie artist of all time]
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beanochris Christopher McBride
I’m Tempted to say Terri Hooley of Good Vibrations Records. Gave us the Undertones, amongst others.
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freshnet Tom Robinson
Actually yes – not many to rival him
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AndyMcH Andy McHaffie
mark e smith has to be up there.
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quarsan Andy Carling
Bob Last at Fast Product
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N5_1BU Just Another Gooner
Moses Asch’s Folkways and Woody Guthrie.
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buzzbands_uk Chris Larkin
@BBC_introducing @ChrisDJMoyles @Huwstephens namechecked by Vinyl Jacket @vinyljacketuk – Interview: wp.me/p1A9b1-5t
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freshnet Tom Robinson
Now that is a v.good call !!
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here_comes_B Mathew Heath
tempted to say Simon Raymonde of @bellaunion. That’s a wondereful roster he’s got over there.
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freshnet Tom Robinson
Good call, but Island distributed by majors
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Oakelmash John Terry
Chris Blackwell – Island RT @freshnet: Suggeststions pls – who would YOU nominate as most pioneering UK Indi… (cont) http://deck.ly/~v2QyB
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freshnet Tom Robinson
MMmm – Dandelion not really much of a label, and the great JP not much of an artist though… RT @JamesBurtt: go to be Peel?
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Oakelmash John Terry
Dave Robinson RT @freshnet: Suggeststions pls – who would YOU nominate as most pioneering UK Indie label found… (cont) http://deck.ly/~abejh
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JamesBurtt jamesburtt
*got – note to self, learn to spell!
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freshnet Tom Robinson
Mmmm – Dandelion not really much of a label, and the great JP not much of an artist though…
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JamesBurtt jamesburtt
go to be Peel?
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freshnet Tom Robinson
Suggeststions pls – who would YOU nominate as most pioneering UK Indie label founder and most inspirational Uk indie artist – of all time ?
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Tom Robinson

London-based broadcaster & songwriter, born 1950. His best known songs are 2-4-6-8 Motorway, Glad To Be Gay and War Baby; he has also co-written songs with Peter Gabriel, Elton John, Dan Hartman and Manu Katché. Read More...

1 Comments

  1. Blue-John Benjamin

    For ‘independence’ in terms of separateness (being far removed, literally & metaphorically, from that which is going on elsewhere):

    – Anthony Wilson / Factory : essentially an assemblage of visionaries (and yes, that includes bloody mindedness, and impractical ideas). Such a distinctive label, sonically and visually. I believe Tony contributed his life savings to the initial pressing of Unknown Pleasures. That’s independence.

    – Joy Division : Their first LP, released in 1979, still sounds relevant, and their presence is still very much felt – a dark, watching figure in the peripheral vision of many contemporary artists.

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