Warp Records, one of the most influential indie labels of the last two decades, is celebrating its 20th anniversary later this year with a series of one-off live events around the world and a series of special new releases.
The label, which was formed in Sheffield in 1989, is holding the ‘Warp 20’ events in Paris in May, New York in July, Sheffield in August, London in September and Tokyo in November.Full details of the events are yet to be released, although Paris Warp 20 will take place at the Cite De La Musique museum space on May 8 and 9, with a bill that includes Aphex Twin, Andrew Weatherall, Flying Lotus and Pivot.
Warp 20 releases will include a deluxe-packaged boxed set featuring previously-unreleased archive material from some of the label’s biggest artists, as well as a compilation of the label’s best tracks voted for by fans on Warp20.com.
‘We did similar things for our 10-year anniversary and it was so amazing having all our acts together under one roof,’ says Warp co-founder Steve Beckett. ‘We decided that we wanted to do something bigger this year. We have got so many acts on the label we felt that we could turn it into a mini-festival.’
The 20th anniversary celebrations will lead a busy year for the label, with new albums by Maximo Park and Grizzly Bear on the way, as well as the debut releases from new signings such as Tim Exile and Hudson Mohawke.
Beckett says he is confident for the year ahead, despite the current troubling times for the music industry. ‘If you have a bad market and a good line-up of releases you can do well,’ he says. ‘Grizzly Bear are starting to do well in the US and Maximo Park have delivered a brilliant album that has got a really good feel to it.’
Nevertheless, Beckett does express some fears as to the future for new independent labels, who he says may lack the money to invest in new talent. He adds, ‘It is tough times for independent labels, especially new labels. When we came through there were people like Domino and Ninja Tune appearing at the same time. Now there are so few labels that can afford to invest in new artists. I wonder where the next big indies will come from.’
As well as a successful recorded music operation, Warp also runs Warp Films, which has produced award-winning movies such as Dead Man’s Shoes and This Is England. It also runs download store Bleep.com, which recently relaunched. ‘I am definitely looking to the future and hoping that the company can continue to bring new artists through and new people through,’ Beckett concludes.
LFO – Freak