One Little Indian Records

Production

Label indépendant créé en 1985, One Little Indian Records est situé à Londres.

Fondé par Sue Churchill et Derek Birkett (ex-bassiste du groupe Flux Of Pink Indians), ils sont rejoints par l’ex-guitariste Tim Kelly. À leurs débuts, la structure donne la part belle à la musique pop-rock-electro anglo-saxonne avec des groupes comme Skunk Anansie, Alabama 3, Sneaker Pimps, The Shamen. Dans leur catalogue, on y trouve aussi la scène islandaise avec Sigur Rós, Emiliana Torrini ou encore Ásgeir. Il s’occupe également de Manu Delago.

Au début des années 90, le label est réparti en plusieurs entités indépendantes telle que Clean-up Records, Partisan Records, Fat Cat Records (sur lequel sort le premier album de Sigur Rós). Entre 1997 et 2001, One Little Indian rachète les labels Rough Trade Records et Nude Records, ainsi que les droits de plusieurs albums publiés par spinART Records.

Le label affiche des goûts éclectiques et revendique un esprit libertaire, issu de leurs origines arnarcho-punk, leur devise : donner les pleins pouvoirs aux artistes qui, selon eux, méritent d’être connus auprès d’un public plus large en continuant à s’inspirer du DIY et des idéaux anarchistes, avec pour modèle le groupe Crass.

Au sujet de la création du label

I met Sue Churchill when she was working for Mayking and I was spending time there taking artwork through production. She and Derek Birkett were looking for a label to put out a Flux of Pink Indians album they were recording. They’d take it around various labels before they decided the best thing to do was to release it themselves. After negotiating a P&D deal, which is a packaging and distribution deal, with Rough Trade. Then they decided to pull someone else in so they talked to me about dealing with the design side of it. Derek’s idea was that it would be a kind of partnership. Sue had a 1/3, Derek had a 1/3, I had a 1/3 with Ray Shulman working as a producer with Derek. That was the general structure of what later became One Little Indian.

Paul white de Me Company

En 1987, les Sugarcubes signent leur premier succès. Le groupe islandais, emmené par Einar Örn et Björk, se fait remarquer au Royaume-Uni avec le titre Birthday.

The Sugarcubes’ first single, an intoxicating ‘Birthday’, has just bubbled to the surface on the rapidly improving One Little Indian label. Another two, ‘Coldsweat’ and ‘Motorcrash’ will follow in swift succession, and then an album, ‘Life’s Too Good’.
The three singles are a flight of bewitching and diverse brilliance. Assuming there are no major disasters, the LP should be one of the year’s best debuts.

Sounds

Sorti en 1988, l’album « Life’s Too Good » atteint la quatorzième place des meilleures ventes au Royaume-uni.

Les Sugarcubes à propos de leur succès

We had Derek Birkett, phoning from England saying, "You’re playing a concert next Friday". We said, "No, we’re not". He said, "You have to because there are all these journalists coming over. Then we had to play again because all these record companies came over." They made us a lot of silly offers ; the whole process was silly. We had people flying in from international corporations saying, We are very interested, and waving cheques with tens of thousands of pounds made out to us already.

Q Magazine

Succès complété, quelques années plus tard, avec la sortie du premier album solo de Björk, Debut vendu à 4 millions d’exemplaires dans le monde.

One Little Indian a sorti tous les albums des Sugarcubes et de Björk, et hormis la négociation des droits de distribution, Björk n’a jamais signé sur un autre label, même si les majors étaient très à l’affût après Debut.

“I went to a lot of meetings, met a lot of people,” Björk recalls. “Derek’s met thousands of people because there was a slight possibility that he would be my manager and I wouldn’t be on One Little Indian. But on most major labels, too many cooks spoil the soup. The A&R man has a say, the marketing man has a say, and the whole lot of them can make a real mess. Because my album is doing quite well now, the same record companies who would have messed it all up want a piece of the cake. But it was Derek’s work, his trust let me do it. There was one company I almost signed to for the rest of the world, that said : ‘Yes, it’s so great, I love how Derek let you do anything you wanted to, let vou have artistic control. You can make all the choices, but by the way, can we change everything ? Can we hire this person to fuck it all up’ ?”

Vox

Björk a un profond respect pour Birkett qui, plutôt que d’être son patron, semble être un excellent partenaire commercial.

Björk told Derek Birkett (...) of her idea (Biophilia app). The next day she received an email from Birkett, announcing that he had contacted a selection of the best app developers in the world. "I was just like : ’What ?"’ she recalls. "I wouldn’t just call somebody out of the blue. I’m probably a bit shy.

Wired

Comme dans les partenariats les plus apparemment harmonieux, il peut bien sûr y avoir des problèmes, notamment lors du leak de Vulnicura.

Pour faire simple, ce qui s’est passé, c’est que j’ai paniqué et j’ai tout donné à iTunes en leur disant : tous ces titres sont en train de perdre de leur valeur, et on perd énormément d’argent. Je leur ai dit de le mettre à la une et qu’en échange, on leur en donnait l’exclusivité. Et puis j’ai réalisé les conséquences politiques de donner l’exclusivité à iTunes.

Les Inrocks

Au sujet de Biophilia :

c’est l’aspect financier qui est le plus compliqué. Le financement repose sur les épaules de mon manager Derek et sur les miennes. C’est la première fois que je travaille comme ça. Tout le monde pensait que mon idée était folle. La vente de musique a tellement changé, avec cette question de "la baise à la maison tue la prostitution". Ce projet m’a beaucoup appris.

Björk, Les Inrockuptibles n°899

À propos de Björk

“She doesn’t even go in and make records in a traditional way,” said Derek Birkett, Bjork’s manager, whom she met 32 years ago when she was playing benefit shows for the miners striking against Margaret Thatcher with her band Kukl.

Derek Birkett

20 ans des Sugarcubes

En 2006, pour fêter l’évenement, One Little Indian sort un coffret regroupant les trois albums : Life’s Too Good, Here Today Tomorrow Next et Stick Around For Joy.

Anecdote

One Little Indian avait prédit que Debut s’écoulerait à (seulement) 25 000 - 50 000 exemplaires. Vox

When Debut appeared, last July, it was expected to fare little better than a Sugarcubes album. Björk’s label, One Little Indian, knew they needed to shift 50,000 copies to get back recording and packaging costs, but a small west London independent company, whose total staff numbers 120, was in no position to buy success. The response at Radio 1, initially anyway, was pretty frosty. The reviews were good, but nowadays good reviews don’t sell records. There was no big marketing budget, no big tour planned and, with the autumn looming, when the usual crop of blockbusters is held back by major labels greedily eyeing the Christmas market, the future for Björk’s album looked at best uncertain.
By the new year it was still in the top 10. As far as anybody could tell, it had sold simply on word of mouth, and because of its stew of idioms—dance, pop, jazz, touches of ethnic world music, with a few nods to contemporary classical—it proved contagiously likeable.

Derek Birkett, The Sunday Times

Sites

indian.co.uk
Catalogue complet sur Discogs