Originally founded by members of anarchist punk band Flux Of Pink Indians), One Little Indian was inspired by the DIY principles and anarchistic ideals of independent labels such as that created by anarcho-punk band Crass.
Since its inception in 1985 the label has prided itself on giving complete control to artists it feels deserve a shot at a wider audience.
Instead of rooting itself in the punk niche , in its first few years the budding label built up an eclectic roster of artists including Iceland’s finest avant-popsters/ pranksters The Sugarcubes (whose ’88 debut Life’s Too Good became the label’s first international release and million seller) shoegaze pioneers A.R. Kane, political tub-thumpers Chumbawumba, and rave-culture trailblazers The Shamen.
The early ‘90s were pivotal years for One Little Indian. In 1992 The Shamen recorded what would become a massive (and massively controversial) Number One hit in Ebenezer Goode pushing its parent album Boss Drum into the Top3. Björk’s Debut followed in ’93; swathed in forward-thinking beats, shimmering strings and spare brass, it became a worldwide hit and an introduction to one of the most innovative, vital and iconic stars we have. Almost 20 years later Bjork remains the cornerstone of the roster, releasing her hugely innovative and universally acclaimed seventh studio album/ educational project combined, Biophillia through the label in 2011 - its formatting as an app another industry first (the label also issued the first DVD single All Is Full Of Love back in 1999).
By the mid/ late 90s successes were coming thick and fast from rockers Skunk Anansie, country acid house collective Alabama 3 (who would later gain international renown for supplying The Sopranos with the soundtrack to its iconic opening credits sequence), clubby ensemble Sneaker Pimps and 50s flecked rockabilly heroes Rocket From The Crypt.
In the ‘noughties’ One Little Indian’s continuing eclecticism turned it toward folk and Americana, by now it’s heavyweight independent status making it an attractive home for Paul McCartney to place his Fireman project with in 2008.
Fast-forward to 2013 and you’ll find the label continuing to host artists as diverse as Sinead O’Connor, Dan Sartain and HK119. Sinead’s current album ‘How About I Be Me and You Be You’ has been widely hailed as a serious return to form, and similarly we witnessed Cody ChesnuTT’s stunning comeback a decade on from ‘The Headphone Masterpiece’ with ‘Landing On A Hundred’, a collection of heartfelt, grandstanding soul anthems. Kathryn Williams is currently putting the finishing touches to her 10th as yet untitled studio album while Icelandic songstress Ólöf Arnalds has just released her 3rd album ‘Sudden Elevation’ – her first sung entirely in English - to no small acclaim. Keeping up the rock’n’roll end of things are The Computers who will be coming to a town near you in the run up to the release of their new album ‘Love Triangles Hate Squares’. Listen out for the label’s latest signing, Stubborn Heart’s brilliantly modern take on electronic soul that has seen the duo pick up Album Of The Month notices at Rough Trade, Mixmag and an Album Of The Year gong at the Gilles Peterson Awards.
In the last year the label has also created a new re-issues imprint, the Totem Series which has so far released carefully curated reissues & re-masters from luminaries Disco Inferno and A.R. Kane with upcoming releases planned from The Woodentops, A.C. Acoustics and A Flux Of Pink Indians.
So then as now, there has never been a particular One Little Indian sound, but little has changed in terms of label philosophy “In the future we are just going to carry on in the same way” says label head Derek Birkett “We just want to carry on putting out records and some of them will sell better than others.” If that sounds prosaic, infact it belies a love of music, equanimity, and fierce loyalty to the artists that has now seen the label through 28 years - no mean achievement.
Key Artists: Björk, The Computers, Dan Sartain, Kathryn Williams, Marry Waterson and Oliver Knight, Ólöf Arnalds, Ásgeir Trausti, Cody ChesnuTT, Flux of Pink Indians, HK119, RNDM, Sinéad O’Connor, Stubborn Heart.