The label that just keeps getting it right. Dirty Hit was founded by Jamie Oborne, Brian Smith, and former England footballer, Ugo Ehiogu, who is sadly no longer with us. In 2009, when the label was founded, Oborne, who had previously been part of a signed band moved into artist management with his main aim being to give a platform to artists who needed support. For Oborne, enhancing the creative talents for the two acts that he managed was the main motivation behind starting the label. Incredibly, the first two artists signed to Dirty Hit were Benjamin Francis Leftwich, and the world-renown, The 1975. Fast forward to now, and it seems as though every artist and band that comes off their production line comes with their own respective influx of creativity, and Dirty Hit Records fully encourages this process.
The 1975 are Dirty Hit’s flagship act, with all four of their albums reaching U.K. number ones. The 1975 have just signed another major contract with Dirty Hit, a prime example of how faith and commitment to artists in the early stages of their career ensures an incredible and balanced working relationship. Through Dirty Hit, The 1975 were offered the chance to fully immerse themselves into their creative talent and run with it, with their most recent album ‘Notes On A Conditional Form’ proving exactly this. One of the most highly anticipated albums of 2020, the release surpassed all expectations. Despite many delays, the album was well worth the wait. The album allowed drummer George Daniel full creativity as they drifted away from their regular pop-rock, into synth-driven music reminiscent of garage and early dubstep. Aside from this, The 1975 created a virtual world to explore, and focused heavily on ecological concerns, with Greta Thunberg featuring on the opening song titled ‘The 1975’, whilst all the corresponding merchandise for the album was entirely eco-friendly.
Dirty Hit Records place community values at the forefront of everything they do, with many artists touring with The 1975, and whilst this may seem like a form of self-promotion for the artists and label, you best believe Oborne has it in his best interest to see his artists strive to do the best they can individually. Beabadoobee is making the most noise at the moment, with her latest single ‘Last Day On Earth’ being co-produced in-house by Matty Healy and George Daniel of The 1975, and recently announcing she would be performing at Reading and Leeds festival 2021. Moreover, Wolf Alice won the Mercury Award Prize in 2018, for their album ‘Visions Of A Life’, and last month announced their upcoming album ‘Blue Weekend’ along with a huge UK tour. What’s more, Dirty Hit is also home to the incredibly talented The Japanese House who recently released a single featuring the prestigious Justin Vernon of Bon Iver fame, titled ‘Dionne’.
However, the artist who has most recently been pushing the boundaries and promoting what Dirty Hit is all about is Rina Sawayama. Sawayama was told she could not compete for the Brit award prizes last year, because she was not a British citizen despite having lived in the UK for 26 years. Rina told the BBC: “It was just heartbreaking, I think a lot of migrants feel this way — where they assimilate and they become part of the British culture… and to be told that we’re not even eligible to be nominated is very othering.” Moreover, following an online pursuit with the hashtag #SawayamaIsBritish, she successfully met with the BPI who organise both the Brits and the Mercury Prize and convinced them to review their criteria.
Once you delve into the world of Dirty Hit, and research into the artists recruited onto the label you start to think.. ‘Wow ... Them too?’ There are far too many to list off individually, and each deserves an article in their own right. Wherever you look, you’re never too far away from a Dirty Hit release, thanks to the groundbreaking work of Jamie Oborne and everyone at the label. A traditional yet unconventional record label that allows each artist full control over their creativity, and in return are producing some of the best music in the industry, whilst placing sociocultural concerns at the forefront of their brand. Dirty Hit is the gift that keeps on giving.