The week’s Label Spotlight highlights Warp Records. Warp is a Britain-based independent record label home to pioneering electronic artists such as Brian Eno, Aphex Twin, Boards of Canada and Flying Lotus, as well as to contemporary indie rock groups like Born Ruffians, Battles and Grizzly Bear.
Warp Records was founded in Sheffield, England in 1989 by Steve Beckett and Rob Mitchell. Initially operating from a small record shop, the duo began putting out a number of releases highlighting local electronic artists. Warp put out records from acid house and techno groups Forgemasters and Nightmares on Wax, as well as three-man electronica group LFO, who debuted as Warp’s first top 20 charting artist in 1990. The label continued to expand with a steady slew of releases from the likes of Autechre, Richard Hawtin and B12, establishing the uniquely underground electronic sound of its artists.
The legacy of Warp artists extends well beyond their label imprint. Aphex Twin, one of Warp’s more famous artists, has been a major influence on contemporary musicians from Skrillex to Kanye West. Kanye even sampled Aphex Twin’s “Avril 14th” on the song “Blame Game” in his 2010 album, “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.” Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke purchased the entire Warp back catalogue in 2000 when writing their seminal record “Kid A.”
In 2009, Warp celebrated their 20th anniversary with Warp20, a series of concerts taking place everywhere from New York City to Tokyo. Warp Records continues to put out a number of records every year, expanding upon the impact a number of their artists have already made.