Label in Focus: Jagjaguwar


Based in Bloomington, Indiana, Jagjaguwar is an independent record label that has been active since 1996. Its name, despite being created using a D&D character name-generator, has become iconic in the land of indie and alternative music.

The artists it signed in the late 90s included bands like The Curious Digit, Drunk, and Oneida. However, it wasn’t until the early 00s where the record label really took off, with names like Black Mountain and Bon Iver joining. These artists set the stage for the majority of the music which followed on this label, which is mostly indie or alternative based.

Following the signing of these two bands, many others hopped on board. Angel Olsen, Sharon Van Etten, Unknown Mortal Orchestra and Foxygen were among these, and all have gone on to accomplish some magnificent achievements in their career. Bon Iver’s self-titled 2011 album went on to win two Grammy awards (Best New Artist and Best Alternative Album) and various others, including Jamila Woods, Julie Doiron and Preoccupations have been nominated/shortlisted for awards across the globe.

In 2012, Jagjaguwar was awarded The American Association of Independent Music’s Label of the Year, which is not a surpise at all when considering the range of extremely talented artists they have on board. Also, Justin Vernon of Bon Iver thanked the record label in his acceptance speech for the Grammy awards for its “transparency and friendship”. This presents the label in an exceptionally positive light, and one which promotes individuality and creativity over profit.

Just two years ago, Jagjaguwar also appeared at No. 4 of Paste Magazine’s Top 10 record labels of 2018. If that’s not a sign of their continued success, I don’t know what is. Newer artists are continuing to join, such as Big Red Machine, proving that this label is continuing to grow.

What is so great about Jagjaguwar is the range they present within smaller and bigger artists. All have an extreme amount of talent, and there is something for every single listener to enjoy. If you’re looking for something a bit soulful, then you can turn to Lonnie Holley. If you’re looking for something with some groove, Moses Sumney is your guy. And if you want something to relax to, Okay Kaja is perfect. Their evident diversity is wonderful, both within the artists that they showcase and the music which is created.

Jagjaguwar is the prime example of why we must celebrate indepedent labels. They bring so much to the world of music and allow incredibly talented musicians to gain the exposure that they deserve.

Lonnie Holley – ‘I Left My Wings in Heaven’ via Jagjaguwar¬†


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Live Editor 2019/20 & third year English student. Probably watching Gilmore Girls

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