First founded in 2009, Dirty Hit is an independent label that has, despite its short lifespan, accumulated an impressive roster of up and coming indie artists. Headed by artist manager Jamie Oborne, who founded it when all major record labels refused to sign singer-songwriter Benjamin Francis Leftwich and now massively successful band The 1975, it has become a beacon in the British music community of creative freedom, supportive management and passionate artists.
The overwhelming genre of the label is undoubtedly alternative, ranging from pop-rock to indie electronica to chillwave. Artists like No Rome and The Japanese House punch out chilled out tune after chilled out tune, with their dreamy, layered sound, whilst Benjamin Francis Leftwich veers more toward indie folk territory with his three albums released under the label. Pale Waves and The 1975 find a comfortable spot in the pop-rock territory, whereas Wolf Alice delve farther into rock with their heavier sound. And of course, Beabadoobee provides us with a range of music from spaced out bedroom pop to lofi to alt-rock. There’s a nice variation across the board, but still a continuity amongst all the artists under the label.
Awards aren’t everything, but Dirty Hit’s artists have certainly accumulated a fair few. To name a select number, Wolf Alice, The 1975, Beabadoobee and Pale Waves have all been either nominated or recipients of numerous awards from the Grammys, NME and the Brits (along with many more). The 1975 have been nominated twice for the Mercury Prize. Many acts of Dirty Hit have also performed at numerous festivals across the globe, with No Rome being the first ever Filipino act to perform at Coachella, and The 1975 headlining Radio 1’s Big Weekend.
The thing that stands out the most about the label is the camaraderie between its artists. They’ve almost become a family of sorts, frequently appearing on each others tours, records, openly supporting one another online with their individual endeavours and seemingly always on the road together. Pale Waves and No Rome supported The 1975 on their ‘Brief Enquiry’ tour, with Beabadoobee set to support on the upcoming ‘Notes on a Conditional Form’ US tour. No Rome and Matty Healy of The 1975 collaborated on ‘Narcissist’, released in 2018 (an absolute banger of a song if you haven’t heard it). There was even a ‘Dirty Hit Tour’ in 2017, featuring signed artists Pale Waves, Superfood and King Nun. The artists appear very closely knit, a rare feat in an industry usually perceived as a cold and distant competitive machine.
The focus of the label is always on the artist and the music, both from the business side and the creative side of things, something that is massively refreshing in this era of 360 record deals and the constant pressure to make a profit. Dirty Hit has become renowned for being a welcoming home for artists looking to freely express themselves, a reputation that it has very much earned. I for one can’t wait to see what the label does next.