Style: All genres
Established: Tom Brown started Lex in 2001. Initially, it was a 12-inch-only imprint owned by Warp. After the success of early albums by Boom Bip, Danger Mouse and Non-Prophets, the label grew rapidly. In 2005, Brown bought out Warp's share of Lex and moved to the other end of Kentish Town, North London.
Artists: Boom Bip, Danger Mouse, Dan Le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip, Fog, Jneiro Jarel, Kid Acne, MF Doom, Neon Neon, Shape of Broad Minds, Subtle
Essential Listening: Danger Mouse & Jemini, Ghetto Pop Life (2003); Non-Prophets, Hope (2003); Prince Poetry, The Slickness (2004); Boom Bip, Blue Eyed in the Red Room (2005); Subtle, For Hero: For Fool (2006); Shape of Broad Minds, Craft of the Lost Art (2007)
Manifesto: “We're an artist-orientated label,” says Brown, managing director at Lex. “It's about working with great artists. We have a small roster and work with artists over a long period of time. We usually sign long deals so that we can invest heavily in a project. The label doesn't have a specific genre that it tries to stay inside. Each artist works in his or her own direction, and we try and help them do that. All the artists and the people at the label love chunks of golden era hip-hop, electronica and alternative rock. Other influences like minimal techno, italo disco, dirty south rap, psychedelic rock, funk and classic soul get a good look in. Boom Bip, for example, started out making sample-based records with rappers [Seed to Sun, 2002]. Then he made a sample-free album of experimental rock and electronics [Blue Eyed in the Red Room] and toured with rock bands like Interpol. Now he's wrapping up an LP of crunky grime/drive-time power-pop, under the name Neon Neon, with British rock star Gruff Rhys (Super Furry Animals) and a clutch of guests, including Spank Rock, Yo Majesty, The Strokes and Johnny Marr of The Smiths. The record is bonkers and miles from the Boom Bip sound when we signed him, but it's a great record, and Boom Bip is doing what he wants to do.”
A&R Philosophy: “Most of the artists we've signed to long deals have been either from demos, like Danger Mouse and Subtle, or from hearing a relatively low-key release on another label, like Boom Bip and Jneiro Jarel,” Brown says. “We accept demos. I know there's a book out there that advises every artist to send a demo to every label just in case. I know that because we receive swathes of demos every month from country and western singers and trance producers. That makes it tougher to find the good demos. Working with a small roster over a long period of time means that we sign very few artists.”
Upcoming: “In January, we have Fog's You Don't Have to Believe in God EP, which includes remixes by Jesu, Dntel and Akron Family,” Brown says. “And in February, we have the new Neon Neon album.”