TOP FIVES: Aussie Record Labels
Editors Note: If you’re a fan of Rice Is Nice, you might enjoy our interview with Label Head Julia Wilson.
The main inspiration behind the writing of my top five Australian record labels was due to the fact that I really like the attitude the following groups have shown towards music.
The reason why I chose these particular labels is that I strongly believe that they are passionate about pushing artists that they enjoy listening to themselves, not because they want to make a quick buck in the industry by signing an act who reek of tacky commercialisation.
I now give you the Australian record labels that I feel are the best in terms of introducing quality and original music to the world.
Artists: THE PRESETS, TAME IMPALA, CUT COPY, BAG RAIDERS, YEAH YEAH YEAHS, THE AVALANCHES, KLAXONS, ROBYN, ARCHITECTURE IN HELSINKI, POND, THE SWISS & more.
Modular Recordings was founded by Steve Pavlovic in 1998. Later that year, the label achieved its first taste of fame after releasing THE LIVING END‘s debut self-titled album & BEN LEE‘s ‘Breathing Tornados’, featuring the massive hit ‘Cigarettes Will Kill You’. In 2000, THE AVALANCHES‘ album ‘Since I Left You’ was released and the band managed to receive nine ARIA award nominations which helped them gain national and international success.
The next few years proved to be an important time for Modular as they managed to sign CUT COPY and THE PRESETS, who both helped change the Australian music scene. It was these two artists that significantly opened the minds of Australians and created a huge demand for indie dance music, especially in the live setting.
Today, Modular Recordings are still going strong, acting not only as a high profile record label, but also as a touring agency under the name ‘Modular Touring’.
Modular to me are a very special record label. Throughout their existence they have taken a number of risks by signing artists who are unique and produce music that most people wouldn’t normally be used to. The majority of the time this has worked in their favour and they have created such a powerful brand name that people are automatically interested in artists who are signed to the label.
Artists: SEEKAE, THE LAURELS, RICHARD IN YOUR MIND, SPOD, GOOD HEAVENS, DONNY BENET, STRAIGHT ARROWS, SHADY LANE & more.
Rice Is Nice is a relatively new indie record imprint that was formed in 2008 by Julia Wilson. This particular label definitely don’t exist purely for the money. This was evident about four months ago when they got almost all of their artists to play intimate sets at The Annandale in Sydney for an extremely generous ten dollars a ticket.
To this day they have released some of the most diverse Australian music around including SEEKAE‘s ‘+DOME’ which gained quite a lot of attention overseas, THE LAURELS‘ awesome ‘Plains’ and RICHARD IN MY MIND‘s latest LP ‘Sun’.
As far as live performances go, Rice Is Nice host some of the best names in the business. SEEKAE recently displayed a mind blowing performance with an eight-piece string section at the Sydney Opera House as part of Vivid LIVE, while THE LAURELS secured support slots for BAND OF SKULLS, THE BLACK ANGELS and SONIC YOUTH‘s LEE RANALDO. Occasionally we also get to see a rare live show from SPOD, who I think is the most entertaining and hilarious musician I’ve ever seen.
Like Modular Recordings, Rice Is Nice certainly have a skill of seeing potential and talent in bands while they are new to the scene. Their latest signing, GOOD HEAVENS, featuring two ex-members of WOLFMOTHER and the singer from THEREDSUNBAND, are a great example of why this record label have a huge future ahead of them.
Artists: FLIGHT FACILITIES, FLUME, DANNY DAZE, NEW NAVY, LUKE MILLION, POOLSIDE, SOFTWAR, CADILLAC, MITZI, THE MAGICIAN, PANAMA & more
If you’ve been to a music festival in the past two years, there’s a good chance that you’ve wandered into a set by an artist who have released a track on Future Classic. In a simplified explanation, Future Classic are responsible for some of the best dance music and parties Australia has to offer.
Throughout the years, the label have released tunes that are often heard in the set of any decent DJ. They also are heavily appreciated as a tour agency, bringing Australia great acts such as THE WHITEST BOY ALIVE, JOHN TALABOT, MOUNT KIMBIE, LITTLE DRAGON, TORO Y MOI, TENSNAKE, TIGER & WOODS, SEBASTIEN TELLIER and many more.
Most of the acts they choose to tour rarely do shows in Australia, or perform here for the first time in intimate venues before gaining extreme popularity. During Sydney Festival, they ran the legendary Future Classic nights and Vivid LIVE usually hit up their music taste for a special night curated by them at the Sydney Opera House.
If you like a good party, look no further, Future Classic have you covered.
Artists: THE RUBENS, CLOUD CONTROL, SPARKADIA, DEEP SEA ARCADE, CATCALL, THE MESS HALL, JOSH PYKE, ALPINE, SURES, TOBY MARTIN, LANIE LANE & more.
Ivy League was founded in 1997 by Cameron Emerson-Elliot (YOUTH GROUP), Peter Lusty and James Roden (THE CITY LIGHTS). Their rise to prominence first started with the release of material by JOSH PYKE and CLOUD CONTROL.
After selling out shows across the country, THE RUBENS have gained recent success while CLOUD CONTROL were made responsible to support VAMPIRE WEEKEND last year and they’ll also be joining WEEZER on their highly anticipated upcoming Australian tour.
This record label are one of MVPs in the Indie League.
Artists: THE HERD, HERMITUDE, URTHBOY, ASTRONOMY CLASS, THE TONGUE, HORRORSHOW, THE LAST KINECTION, JOELISTICS & more.
Elefant Traks is the only premier hip hop record label in Australia. What’s special about this label is the fact that members of THE HERD run it, meaning it is always going to be about the music. The idea of the label began in 1998, during the production of a mix-tape which was made for a friend of the artists. After this occurred, the concept was pushed further and an official compilation album titled ‘Cursive Writing’ was released.
Since the birth of Elefant Traks, they have released over fifty albums including HERMITUDE‘s recent LP ‘HyperParadise’, which allowed the band to grow into a popular festival act. Recently at the 2012 Independent Music Awards, HERMITUDE won an award for ‘Best Independent Dance/Electronica Album’, while the label itself won ‘Best Independent Label’.
It was once said by the Elefant Traks crew that they believe in “challenging yet adventurous music” and in November they will be taking part in exactly that at the Graphic Festival, performing a special ‘Dr Seuss’ show featuring over twenty five musicians from the label.
After seeing some of the Elefant Traks artists live on a number of different occasions, I can honestly say that they were some of the most enjoyable gigs I’ve ever had the pleasure of attending.
Artists: KNIGHTLIFE, DAS MOTH, NILE DELTA, BEN BROWNING & more.
This is the record label owned by CUT COPY and features disco/house releases by their friends listed above.
Artists: PURPLE SNEAKERS DJs & more to be announced.
Our very own Purple Sneakers have created a singles-specific record label. The first release titled ‘Last One Standing’ is by PURPLE SNEAKERS DJs themselves and features the lovely vocals from Amy Pes of TOKYO DENMARK SWEDEN.
Artists: DZ DEATHRAYS, VIOLENT SOHO, BLEEDING KNEES CLUB & more.
Apart from being a killer indie rock label, I OH YOU are also a touring agency. You can thank them for bringing TOTALLY ENORMOUS EXTINCT DINOSAURS and SLEIGH BELLS to Australia.