On the 28th of September 2022, The Roundhouse in Camden hosted the AIM Independent music awards. The setting was glorious and catered for 50 tables of music industry professionals from all over the independent music industry. The guests descended seamlessly to their tables to enjoy their meals thanks to the well organised staff members and catering team and whilst waiting in anticipation for the ceremony to begin.
Simultaneously, the red (turquoise) carpet offered an array of artists, managers, CEOs and record label owners posing for the photographers and kindly giving us their time to answer our questions. Lethal Bizzle mentioned his 20 year anniversary in the business, commending both his past and present co rappers all the way back to the music video by So Solid Crew 21 Seconds. Mirroring the excitement he has for Stormzy’s latest video saying “who ever watches a 10 minute music video? Yet every time I see it again I see something new”.
The hosts of the night BBC Radio 1Xtra’s DJ Target and TV host and presenter Joelah Noble took to the stage and very swiftly started to announce the incredible winners for each category. They are listed as follows:
Best Independent Album in association with Spotify
Cleo Sol – ‘Mother’ (Forever Living Originals)
Best Independent Track in association with Meta
Nova Twins – ‘Antagonist’ (Marshall Records)
UK Independent Breakthrough in association with YouTube Music
Wet Leg (Domino Recording Company)
International Breakthrough in association with Deezer
Blxst (Red Bull Records)
Best Live Performer
Mitski (Dead Oceans)
Best [Difficult] Second Album in association with BBC 6 Music
Nilüfer Yanya – ‘Painless’ (ATO Records)
Innovator Award in association with Amazon Music
Outstanding Contribution to Music in association with Merlin
Best Independent EP/Mixtape
TAAHLIAH – ‘Angelica’ (untitled (recs))
Best Independent Remix
Champion remix of Ibeyi – ‘Lavender & Red Roses ft. Jorja Smith’ (XL Recordings)
One To Watch in association with BBC Introducing
Nia Archives (HIJINXX)
Best Independent Video in association with VEVO
Jeshi – ‘3210’ (Because Music)
PPL Award for Most Played New Independent Artist
D.O.D (Axtone Records)
Best Creative Campaign in association with Able
Maylee Todd – ‘Maloo’ campaign from Stones Throw Records
Best Independent Label
Rough Trade Records
Best Boutique Label
Independent Champion in association with MCPS
Kenny Gates and Michel Lambot of [PIAS]
Music Entrepreneur Of The Year
Corey Johnson – CEO & Founder of Defenders Ent.
Why is this event so special? AIM is the not-for-profit organisation representing and supporting the UK’s independent music sector and community, which makes up over a quarter of the UK’s recorded music market. Now in its 23rd year, AIM’s members range from the largest, most respected record labels and associated music businesses in the world to DIY or self-releasing artists and the next generation of entrepreneurs in music – including 4AD, Black Acre, CTRL Music, Dirty Hit, Domino Recording Co, Hospital Records, Killing Moon Group, FAMM, Ninja Tune, Numbers, Transgressive, Secretly Canadian, Supernature, Warp, and XL Recordings.
AIM exists to level the playing field for UK independent music businesses – the beating heart of music. No matter their genre, their background, how much money they have, how they identify or their age, AIM provides access to the knowledge and contacts creative entrepreneurs need to create, build and win. AIM supports its members, not only through the difficult times, but also on a day-to-day level with practical support that makes a real difference to their lives and work, helping them take their businesses to the next level.
Something very important to take away from this is that even the runners up are recognised as innovators and artists who are not afraid of breaking the mold. Whilst all acceptance speeches were different, there was a unifying motto which resonated throughout and that was to keep pushing, keep innovating and keep moving up no matter how slow and hard it may feel at times.
We caught up with Gary Powell from the Libertines to talk to him about his attire as he did look pretty sharp indeed. What stood out the most was the name of the brands he mentioned “Art Comes First” and “SuperDuper Hats” which we thought was extremely fitting for the theme of the evening.
Once all the winners were announced, The Roundhouse was opened to the public and we all enjoyed performances from Pixie, Lethal Bizzle and The Libertines. This in itself highlights the diversity AIM seeks to support and the crowd from all walks of life and ages came to watch and enjoy the night away.
More information about the artists on the night:
After rapidly rising up the ranks of the indie rock scene due to their killer choruses and label guidance, Wet Leg (Domino Recording Company) saunter in as winners of UK Independent Breakthrough in association with YouTube Music, while Nova Twins (Marshall Records) scoop Best Independent Track in association with Meta for ‘Antagonist’ after a similar upward trajectory in 2022.
On their win for UK Independent Breakthrough, Wet Leg said via videolink: “Thanks so much for the Breakthrough award. It’s been a really wild year for us and we just want to take this opportunity to thank our team and all the other members of our new-found family. As a great man once said, “To infinity and beyond!””
On the LP front, Cleo Sol (Forever Living Originals) took home Best Independent Album in association with Spotify for the majestic ‘Mother’ and Nilüfer Yanya (ATO Records) proved the follow up record can be a pretty ‘Painless’ experience as she reigned supreme in the Best [Difficult] Second Album in association with BBC 6 Music category.
Via video link, Nilüfer Yanya said: “Just wanted to say thanks so much for the award. Really means a lot, especially coming from AIM.”
This year marked the introduction of two new categories, Best Independent EP/Mixtape and Music Entrepreneur Of The Year, with Scottish producer TAAHLIAH‘s ‘Angelica’ (untitled (recs)) and Corey Johnson (CEO & Founder of Defenders Ent.) winning respectively. The latter is recognised for his work founding The Digital Holdings studio to create a safe space in the UK rap scene.
With previous recipients including Arlo Parks and ENNY, Nia Archives has been earmarked for similar stratospheric success by winning this year’s One To Watch in association with BBC Introducing, while American rapper and songwriter Blxst (Red Bull Records) has been making waves thanks to his recent debut album and feature on the new Kendrick Lamar album. He was awarded International Breakthrough in association with Deezer.
With over 29,000 votes cast by fans across the category, Mitski (Dead Oceans) emerged victorious as the Best Live Performer for her revered show and British DJ D.O.D (Axtone Records) claims the PPL Award for Most Played New Independent Artist. There’s also wins for Jeshi (Because Music), who claims the Best Independent Video in association with VEVO prize for the ambitious ‘3210’ and Champion’s reimagining of Ibeyi’s ‘Lavender & Red Roses ft. Jorja Smith’ (XL Recordings) is hailed as Best Independent Remix, as well as Maylee Todd’s ‘Maloo’ from Stones Throw Records for Best Creative Campaign in association with Able. After celebrating their tenth anniversary this year, Local Action win Best Boutique Label for their trailblazing and uplifting community ethos in dance music.
Having helped to define what an independent record label is when it was established in 1978, Rough Trade Records cemented their reputation with the Best Independent Label award demonstrating how a label’s cultural identity can benefit and enhance its artists since its inception. Under the leadership of Jeannette Lee and Geoff Travis, the label has released music from the likes of Black Midi, Jockstrap and Dean Blunt in recent times, while also dipping into its back catalogue for a series of reissues. Fittingly, indie-rock heavyweights The Libertines received Special Recognition for their legendary career and influence on guitar music. As Rough Trade signees, it emphasises the strength of the working relationship between the two as they scoop an Award apiece.
As previously announced, Stormzy was honoured as Diversity Champion for using his platform to level the playing field in the music industry and inspiring wider society through his charity #Merky Foundation and #Merky Books. Alongside Lethal Bizzle, a fellow grime legend who took home Outstanding Contribution to Music in association with Merlin, there were wins for several music industry leaders, including Innovator Award in association with Amazon Music for the unstoppable Rina Sawayama and Independent Champion in association with MCPS for Kenny Gates and Michel Lambot of [PIAS].
Collecting his award via video link, Stormzy said: “I encourage everyone in the room today to not just use diversity as a buzzword. Whatever position you lot are in, whatever roles you might play, try to be a real driving factor for it and not just see it as a quota or a box to tick and really see the worth and value in being diverse. Thank you to the AIM Awards and to God be the glory.”
Opening this year’s ceremony, AIM CEO Paul Pacifico said: “Tonight is about us as a community celebrating the incredible successes of the world-beating UK independent music sector. It is a hugely competitive market out there, but we understand that we are stronger together and a win for one of us is a win for all of us. I’d like to say a huge congratulations to tonight’s winners, and thank you to our sponsors and especially our Platinum Partners.”
FABUK is proud to support events that celebrate independence and we look forward to bringing you more news about breakthrough acts and shows in the near future!
Written by isabelle de polla