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How your favourite label came into existence

The stories behind some defining imprints

  • Words: Louis Anderson-Rich and Dave Turner
  • 11 April 2017
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Warp

Warp Records, the label home to the likes of Aphex Twin, Autechre, Boards Of Canada and Drexciya, started in the backroom of a Sheffield record store in 1989. Shop workers Steve Beckett, Rob Mitchell and Robert Gordon named the label Warp after it became clear Warped Records was difficult to distinguish over the phone. “At the time we didn’t think we were setting up a label necessarily,” Beckett said in the book How Soon Is Now? The Madmen and Mavericks Who Made Independent Music 1975-2005.“ It was more about, ‘Let’s do this 12" and see if it can have an effect’, like we were seeing in guys like 808 State and Unique 3. It was all orientated to the dancefloor rather than the label side of things.”

Vote for Warp in our Label Of The Decade Poll here

Watergate

There's no real fascinating story behind the launch of Watergate Records, TBH. The owners of the Berlin club it's named after - unsurprisingly located beside the water, specifically the River Spree - just wanted a platform to release mix CDs reflecting the parties they were throwing back in '08. It was a CD-only affair for around a year, but a Martyn and dOP 12" introduced the vinyl series and albums from Ruede Hagelstein and Tiefschwarz have come since.

Vote for Watergate in our Label Of The Decade Poll here

XL Recordings

The UK's youth were well and truly gripped by rave music at the end of the '80s, so a few fellas - Nick Halkes and Tim Palmer - from record company Beggars Group decided a label to release tunes geared towards raving was needed. Richard Russell, who joined soon after as an A&R and is now an owner, recently said: "The ambition was to make records we could play as DJs." Well, they really did do that, didn't they? SL2's rowdy 'On A Ragga Tip' was an early release and a group of geezers from Essex were welcomed onboard to release as The Prodigy. With a North Londoner called Adele now on its books, we reckon they'll exist for a little while longer.

Vote for XL Recordings in our Label Of The Decade Poll here

Dave Turner is Mixmag's Digital News Editor. Follow him on Twitter

Louis Anderson-Rich is Mixmag's Digital Intern. Follow him on Twitter

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