After bringing down the curtain on riotous performances from The Libertines, Lethal Bizzle and Pixey, the AIM Independent Music Awards celebrates another glorious year of the independent sector and the talented artists, labels and outstanding individuals at the forefront of its success.
With a winners list of exciting fresh talent and trailblazing legends, 2022 is a year of triumph for those who have paved the way and those now forging their own path. After rapidly rising up the ranks of the indie rock scene due to their killer choruses and label guidance, Wet Leg (Domino Recording Company) saunter in as winners of UK Independent Breakthrough in association with YouTube Music, while Nova Twins (Marshall Records) scoop Best Independent Track in association with Meta for ‘Antagonist’ after a similar upward trajectory in 2022.
On their win for UK Independent Breakthrough, Wet Leg said via videolink: “Thanks so much for the Breakthrough award. It’s been a really wild year for us and we just want to take this opportunity to thank our team and all the other members of our new-found family. As a great man once said, “To infinity and beyond!””
On the LP front, Cleo Sol (Forever Living Originals) took home Best Independent Album in association with Spotify for the majestic ‘Mother’ and Nilüfer Yanya (ATO Records) proved the follow up record can be a pretty ‘Painless’ experience as she reigned supreme in the Best [Difficult] Second Album in association with BBC 6 Music category.
Via video link, Nilüfer Yanya said: “Just wanted to say thanks so much for the award. Really means a lot, especially coming from AIM.”
This year marked the introduction of two new categories, Best Independent EP/Mixtape and Music Entrepreneur Of The Year, with Scottish producer TAAHLIAH‘s ‘Angelica’ (untitled (recs)) and Corey Johnson (CEO & Founder of Defenders Ent.) winning respectively. The latter is recognised for his work founding The Digital Holdings studio to create a safe space in the UK rap scene.
With previous recipients including Arlo Parks and ENNY, Nia Archives has been earmarked for similar stratospheric success by winning this year’s One To Watch in association with BBC Introducing, while American rapper and songwriter Blxst (Red Bull Records) has been making waves thanks to his recent debut album and feature on the new Kendrick Lamar album. He was awarded International Breakthrough in association with Deezer.
With over 29,000 votes cast by fans across the category, Mitski (Dead Oceans) emerged victorious as the Best Live Performer for her revered show and British DJ D.O.D (Axtone Records) claims the PPL Award for Most Played New Independent Artist. There’s also wins for Jeshi (Because Music), who claims the Best Independent Video in association with VEVO prize for the ambitious ‘3210’ and Champion’s reimagining of Ibeyi’s ‘Lavender & Red Roses ft. Jorja Smith’ (XL Recordings) is hailed as Best Independent Remix, as well as Maylee Todd’s ‘Maloo’ from Stones Throw Records for Best Creative Campaign in association with Able. After celebrating their tenth anniversary this year, Local Action win Best Boutique Label for their trailblazing and uplifting community ethos in dance music.
Having helped to define what an independent record label is when it was established in 1978, Rough Trade Records cemented their reputation with the Best Independent Label award demonstrating how a label’s cultural identity can benefit and enhance its artists since its inception. Under the leadership of Jeannette Lee and Geoff Travis, the label has released music from the likes of Black Midi, Jockstrap and Dean Blunt in recent times, while also dipping into its back catalogue for a series of reissues. Fittingly, indie-rock heavyweights The Libertines received Special Recognition for their legendary career and influence on guitar music. As Rough Trade signees, it emphasises the strength of the working relationship between the two as they scoop an Award apiece.
As previously announced, Stormzy was honoured as Diversity Champion for using his platform to level the playing field in the music industry and inspiring wider society through his charity #Merky Foundation and #Merky Books. Alongside Lethal Bizzle, a fellow grime legend who took home Outstanding Contribution to Music in association with Merlin, there were wins for several music industry leaders, including Innovator Award in association with Amazon Music for the unstoppable Rina Sawayama and Independent Champion in association with MCPS for Kenny Gates and Michel Lambot of [PIAS].
Collecting his award via video link, Stormzy said: “I encourage everyone in the room today to not just use diversity as a buzzword. Whatever position you lot are in, whatever roles you might play, try to be a real driving factor for it and not just see it as a quota or a box to tick and really see the worth and value in being diverse. Thank you to the AIM Independent Music Awards and to God be the glory.”