Domino Recording Company
Fifteen years since its inception Domino Recording Company is now established as one of the UK's leading independents. Launched by Laurence Bell on the back of a £40 a week enterprise allowance scheme and sticking throughout to a commendable set of principles, Domino has long championed and nurtured the outsider whilst enjoying both critical and commercial success.
''It's a marathon not a sprint'', explains Domino label founder Bell, ''We've had some pretty hairy moments, but we always thought that if we were going to go down, we wanted it to be a grand tragedy - with a band playing on deck''.
Such a scenario now seems unlikely as Bell's uncanny knack of hitting the zeitgeist has seen the label achieve worldwide success in the 21st century with the release of No.1 albums from home grown talents Franz Ferdinand and Arctic Monkeys.
The title of 1993's debut Domino release - Sebadoh's single 'Soul And Fire' - neatly encapsulates what makes the label so special. A passion for music, a back to basics approach has long been their creed along with a determination to ensure everything it puts out is ''something home-made that's put together with love''.
From the off the label became a home for the most idiosyncratic of artists, led by Sebadoh and keenly followed by Royal Trux and Palace Music. In Domino these artists recognised a label that could understand and work with their vision.
Despite racking up classic album after classic album by Palace, Smog, Elliot Smith and Pavement however, Domino remained firmly entrenched in the American music scene. But with British music enjoying a creative resurgence in the late '90's. Domino was set to enter a new phase. ''That was what we always hoped would happen'' says Bell, ''it just took longer than we thought and maybe for while we got stuck in our own bubble. But around 1997-98, we began to realise that the sort of bands we wanted to sign did exist in Britain and the fact that they liked the records we'd put out might encourage them to throw in their lot with us''.
And so they did with UK artists The Kills, Clinic, Four Tet, singer songwriter James Yorkston and Archie Bronson Outfit joining the Domino stable and releasing seminal and critically acclaimed records. But it was in 2003 that the label hit pay dirt with Franz Ferdinand - the standard bearers of a new art-rock movement - and Domino found themselves thrust into the spotlight. 'Take Me Out', Franz Ferdinand's second single, captured the mood of a nation and became a worldwide hit for the label.
By now considered serious contenders in the UK market, Domino beat off intense competition in 2006 to sign Arctic Monkeys. The four piece from Sheffield hit the top spot with their debut single and repeated the success with their debut album, happily coinciding with Bell's 40th Birthday celebrations. The label was able to continue nurturing idiosyncratic talent in the form of Juana Molina, Sons & Daughters and Junior Boys. Enjoying success on their own terms, Domino slowly began reissuing titles that had either formed or informed the label's aesthetic; sets by Orange Juice, Young Marble Giants, Sebadoh and Liquid Liquid are among the highlights.
With offices now in New York, Berlin and Singapore as well as thriving recent Domino signings Bonde Do Role, Animal Collective and The Wild Beasts gracing the airwaves, Domino continue in their mission to sign the most innovative of artists and break down those musical boundaries.
In 2007 the Arctic Monkeys effortlessly followed up their debut with 'Favourite Worst Nightmare' a record bristling with confidence and swaggering intelligence. The year drew to a close with the band sharing space at the top of the end of year polls with Robert Wyatt, one of the label's latest signing. Wyatt's 'Comicopera' was a tour de force of his singular vision and effortlessly gave notice of how Domino is now placed to connect music of all generations with its rightful audience hungry for the real thing.
The future of Domino is always balanced between allowing existing artists freedom of expression and discovery of the new. Lightspeed Champion, Yo Majesty! and The Count & Sinden are all recent additions to the label's release schedule ensuring it remains innovative, idiosyncratic and as distinctively Domino as ever.