XL Recordings is a British independent record label founded in 1989 by Tim Palmer and Nick Halkes. It has been run and co-owned by Richard Russell since 1996. It forms part of the Beggars Group.

XL Recordings
IndustryMusic & Entertainment
Founded1989; 34 years ago (1989)
FounderTim Palmer and
Nick Halkes
Key people
Richard Russell (CEO)
ParentBeggars Group

Although only releasing an average of six albums a year, XL has worked with Adele, Arca, Azealia Banks, Basement Jaxx, Beck, CASISDEAD, Dizzee Rascal, Electric Six, FKA Twigs, Giggs, Gil Scott-Heron, Gotan Project, the Horrors, Yaeji, Jai Paul, Jungle, King Krule, Lemon Jelly, M.I.A., Nines, Peaches, the Prodigy, Radiohead, Sampha, SBTRKT, Sigur Rós, Tyler, the Creator, Vampire Weekend, the White Stripes, the xx and the PC Music project QT. The label releases albums worldwide and operates across a range of genres.[1]

History edit

1980s and 1990s edit

Originally launched in 1989[2] to release rave and dance music, the label began as an imprint of Beggars Banquet's more commercial dance label Citybeat, which was known for records by acts such as Freeez, Rob Base & EZ Rock, Starlight, Dream Frequency and the Ultramagnetic MCs. However, with the success of acts such as the Prodigy and SL2, XL superseded Citybeat in its lineup.

During the early 1990s, XL releases were dance-oriented, ranging from Belgian techno (T99's "Anasthasia") to breakbeat hardcore (SL2's "On a Ragga Tip")[3] to drum and bass (Jonny L's "I'm Leavin'"). This period of XL's history has been recorded on the XL Recordings Chapters compilation series. In 1993, Halkes left XL to form the EMI-owned commercial dance label Positiva,[3] and subsequently his own independent commercial dance label Incentive. After Palmer retired in 1996, Russell took over the business.[4]

Russell later broadened the label's musical horizons, whilst maintaining a credo of working with artists he saw as original and inventive.[4] In 1994, the label released the Prodigy's second album, Music for the Jilted Generation which debuted atop the UK Albums Chart, and in 1997 it released the group's third album, The Fat of the Land which entered atop the British and American charts and went on to be number one in 26 countries.[4]

2000s edit

June 2000 saw the release of Badly Drawn Boy's The Hour of Bewilderbeast which won the 2000 Mercury Music Prize.[5] The next year, the White Stripes' third album White Blood Cells was released together with reissues of the band's previous albums, The White Stripes and De Stijl. In 2003, XL Recordings won the Music Week A&R award,[6] and also released the White Stripes' fourth album Elephant which was their first UK number one album and eventually reached double platinum certification in Britain.[7] That same year, XL released Dizzee Rascal's first solo album, Boy in da Corner for which Dizzee was awarded the Mercury Prize for the best album of 2003.[8]

In March 2005, M.I.A.'s debut album Arular was released after several months' delay.[9] Thom Yorke, from Radiohead, released his first solo record, The Eraser, on the label in July 2006. In October 2007, Radiohead completed negotiations to sign with XL for physical release of their seventh studio album, In Rainbows. Radiohead subsequently went on to release through XL, and have so far released everything since their eighth studio album The King of Limbs on the label. As director of XL Recordings, Richard Russell was included in a 2007 Evening Standard list of the most influential people in London,[10] and in August of that year M.I.A.'s second album Kala was released—Rolling Stone named it the ninth best album of the decade.[11]

In March 2008, XL added Friendly Fires and the Horrors. In 2009 the label won the "Music Week" Best Independent Label award;[12] Adele won the awards for Best New Artist and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance at the 51st Annual Grammy Awards, and at the same ceremony Radiohead won Best Alternative Album for In Rainbows as well as Best Boxed or Special Edition Album.[13] Also in 2009, the xx's debut album xx was released on XL Recordings partner label Young, and in September Giggs was signed.

2010s edit

On 11 January 2010, XL Recordings released Vampire Weekend's second album Contra, the band's first album to top the US Billboard 200 chart.[14] Gil Scott-Heron's thirteenth studio album I'm New Here was released in February; it was Scott-Heron's first release of original material in sixteen years and would ultimately be his last studio album before his death the following May. Recording sessions for the album took place between 2007 and 2009 and production was handled by XL Recordings-owner Richard Russell.

In July, XL signed Jai Paul, who was shortlisted for BBC's Sound of 2011, and in September the xx's eponymous debut album won the Barclaycard Mercury Prize, acquiring best British and Irish album of the year.[15][16][17]

On 24 January 2011, XL Recordings released the album 21 by Adele. In February the (then) 19-year-old OFWGKTA member Tyler, the Creator was signed for a one-album deal for his debut studio album and commercial debut Goblin.[18] Singer Gil Scott-Heron died in May and his final recordings, I'm New Here (produced by Richard Russell), and the remix album, "We're New Here" made with Jamie xx were released on XL Recordings.[19] The label also released new albums by Radiohead, Friendly Fires, and the Horrors and singles by Jai Paul and Portishead, as well as the Adele Blu-ray/DVD, Live at the Royal Albert Hall.[20]

On 24 April 2012, XL released Blunderbuss, the debut solo record by Jack White. It entered the UK album charts at number one, displacing 21 by Adele.[21] In 2012, XL Recordings was named 'Label of the Year' at the Music Week Awards in London. XL also won awards for 'Best A&R' and 'Best Artist Campaign'. Label head, Richard Russell, became the youngest ever recipient of the lifetime achievement 'Strat Award'.[22]

Sales of Adele's 21 helped increase XL Recordings' bank balance from £3 million to £32 million over 12 months.[23] As of March 2011, XL Recordings had released three albums that had sold over a million copies in the UK: The Prodigy's The Fat of the Land, Adele's 19, and Adele's 21.[24]

In April 2016, Radiohead's Parlophone albums transferred to XL Recordings. A month later, on 8 May, the band released their ninth studio album, A Moon Shaped Pool, through XL to critical acclaim.

XL Studio edit

In early 2008, Russell transformed the rear garage of the label's Ladbroke Grove headquarters into a small, in-house recording and mixing studio called XL Studio. It served as a makeshift studio space for the label's various artists and his own projects until producer Rodaidh McDonald was assigned in September of that year to manage and properly equip it in preparation for the xx to record their self-titled debut album. According to McDonald, "before Richard brought me in to be Studio Manager, it was just a bit of a free-for-all. Artists could come in and rehearse, demo or write here and things like that ... but it was good idea and we decided we should be stepping it up and making records here."[25] Russell and McDonald were inspired by the success of modest studios such as Hitsville U.S.A. and wanted to create an economic, non-commercial space.[26]

Set up specifically with the xx in mind, XL Studio features little outboard gear and is equipped with a Neotek Élan custom 24-channel mixing console, Yamaha NS10 studio monitors, and instruments that include an upright piano, Roland Juno-60, Moog Prodigy, Vox Continental organ, and Sequential Circuits Pro-One synthesizer.[25] Russell and McDonald augmented the studio to twice its original size after the xx's album, which was done in what became the studio's control room; they incorporated an adjacent office as the studio's live room for musicians.[26]

In 2016, the WSDG completed the construction of a new recording studio in the basement of the XL Recordings offices in New York City.[27]

Roster edit

Notable artists edit

As of 2023, XL Recordings is home to a range of artists including:[28]

Alumni edit

See also edit

Affiliated labels/imprints edit

Formerly affiliated labels/imprints edit

Inactive affiliated labels/imprints edit

  • Abeano
  • Concept In Dance
  • HXC Recordings
  • Merok Records
  • New Gen
  • Ore Music
  • Platinum Projects
  • Rex Records
  • Salvia

Other edit

References edit

  1. ^ Tim Jonze (16 February 2011). "XL Recordings, the record label that's tearing up the rule book". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 November 2011.
  2. ^ "Vampire Weekend top US albums chart". NME. 21 January 2010. Archived from the original on 2 June 2013. Retrieved 2 January 2012.
  3. ^ a b Colin Larkin, ed. (1998). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Dance Music (First ed.). Virgin Books. p. 371. ISBN 0-7535-0252-6.
  4. ^ a b c David Teather (13 July 2007). "The Friday interview: Richard Russell". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 November 2011.
  5. ^ Critic Reviews for The Hour of Bewilderbeast. Metacritic. Retrieved 23 June 2011
  6. ^ [1] Archived 8 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ "BPI". British Phonographic Industry. Archived from the original on 30 December 2007. Retrieved 17 January 2008.
  8. ^ Angelique Chrisafis (10 September 2003). "Rapper wins Mercury prize". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 November 2011.
  9. ^ Metacritic (31 December 2005). "M.I.A.: Arular (2005): Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 24 February 2007.
  10. ^ "Music". Evening Standard. 29 November 2007. Archived from the original on 5 December 2008. Retrieved 20 November 2011.
  11. ^ "100 Best Albums of the Decade". Rolling Stone. 9 December 2009. Archived from the original on 6 January 2010. Retrieved 3 January 2010.{{cite magazine}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  12. ^ Mayer Nissim (9 April 2009). "Music Week Awards 2009: The Winners". Digital Spy. Retrieved 20 November 2011.
  13. ^ Jody Thompson (9 February 2009). "Coldplay, Robert Plant, Radiohead, Duffy and Adele win at Grammy Awards after Rihanna pulls out of show". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 20 November 2011.
  14. ^ Caulfield, Keith (20 January 2010). "Vampire Weekend Lands First No. 1 Album". Billboard. Retrieved 14 March 2010.
  15. ^ Cardew, Ben. "CHARTS: Mercury Win Expedites the Xx's Chart Fortunes." Music Week (2010): 3. Print.
  16. ^ Paine, Andre. "The XX Factor." Billboard – The International Newsweekly of Music, Video and Home Entertainment 122.38 (2010): 42. Print.
  17. ^ "The Xx at a Crossroads After Mercurys Win." Music Week (2010): 1. Print.
  18. ^ "Odd Future's Tyler the Creator signs one-album deal with XL Recordings". Los Angeles Times. 14 February 2011. Retrieved 20 November 2011.
  19. ^ Mike Power (28 May 2011). "Gil Scott-Heron obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 November 2011.
  20. ^ "XL Recordings 2011 Release Schedule". XL Recordings. 4 May 2011. Retrieved 20 November 2011.
  21. ^ "Jack White's Blunderbuss Bumps Adele Off". Billboard. 30 April 2012. Retrieved 30 April 2012.
  22. ^ "Adele's label XL is big winner at Music Week Awards". Reuters. 27 April 2012. Retrieved 27 April 2012.[dead link]
  23. ^ "Adele's '21' helps boost label XL profits to £41million". NME. 3 May 2012. Retrieved 21 October 2012.
  24. ^ "Adele's 19 sells millionth copy". MusicWeek. 9 March 2011. Retrieved 10 January 2013.
  25. ^ a b Frost, Matt (2011). "Rodaidh McDonald: Recording the xx". Sound on Sound. Cambridge (July). Archived from the original on 26 August 2014. Retrieved 27 July 2014.
  26. ^ a b "XL Studio". XL Recordings. Archived from the original on 24 October 2014. Retrieved 21 August 2014.
  27. ^ Molho, David. "XL Studios". WSDG. Retrieved 15 June 2020.
  28. ^ "XL Recordings". XL Recordings. 30 April 2011. Retrieved 30 April 2012.
  29. ^ "Arca (live) & Jesse Kanda (AV)".
  30. ^ "With Everything is Recorded, XL Recordings' Richard Russell engages". 3 April 2020. Retrieved 4 April 2020.
  31. ^ Paine, Andre (13 October 2021). "Adele says Hello to Columbia Records UK, 30 album confirmed for November 19". Music Week. Retrieved 13 October 2021.
  32. ^ Smirke, Richard (9 December 2011). "XL's Richard Russell On Adele, Six Grammy Noms, What's Next (Bobby Womack!)". Billboard.biz. Retrieved 28 May 2012.
  33. ^ "XL Recordings". www.xlrecordings.com. Archived from the original on 28 February 2014. Retrieved 28 February 2014.
  34. ^ "Rapper Nines inks record deal with XL Recordings - MOBO Awards". MOBO Awards.
  35. ^ Joseph JP Patterson. "Premiere: Listen To Novelist's "10 Out Of 10"". Complex UK.

External links edit