Formed in London by Matt Black and Jonathan More, the duo known as Coldcut in 1990, Ninja Tune have established themselves as one of the world’s leading independent record labels, etching its story into the pages of ground-breaking British music.
Now a bonafide music institution both on these shores and beyond, they are synonymous with diverse, uncompromising releases and equally visionary artists, committed to pushing the boundaries of expectation — from the sweatiest basement clubs to the Royal Albert Hall, from underground classics to Mercury Prize-winning albums.
Spanning over 25 years, the label has consistently defied genres for both critical and commercial acclaim — most recently manifesting itself in 2015’s Innovator Award from revered industry institution the Association of Independent Music (AIM), Label of the Year at the 2016 edition of Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide Awards and DJ Mag’s Best of British 2017, reaching #5 in the UK charts with Bonobo’s ‘Migration’, #3 Billboard position for ODESZA’s ‘A Moment Apart’ (both Grammy nominated, 4 in total) breaking 1M sales of The Heavy’s celebrated single ‘How You Like Me Now’, 500K sales of ‘Say My Name’ by ODESZA (both Counter Records) and selling out the 5K capacity Warehouse Project, Manchester in under 2 hours.
Like all forward-thinking labels, however, Ninja Tune’s success doesn’t begin and end with their own roster of talent.
Big Dada, the UK’s most prominent hip-hop label, launched the careers of homegrown legends Roots Manuva and Kate Tempest, as well as thrusting US behemoths such as Diplo and Run The Jewels into the wider global consciousness.
Alongside this, Counter Records have masterminded recent commercial success with ODESZA, The Heavy, Maribou State and more, seriously shaping the sound of emerging music scenes the world over. Releases from prominent underground figureheads Jay Daniel, UMFANG and Peggy Gou has seen Ninja Tune’s Technicolour imprint make waves in recent years. From all-encompassing album campaigns to no-fuss, no-fanfare affairs, Ninja Tune have ensured that their brand’s identity is never compromised, regardless of genre or classification.
These successes didn’t go unnoticed by the wider music community. Having added Flying Lotus’ legendary imprint Brainfeeder and Werkdiscs, helmed by elusive UK pioneer Actress, into the Ninja Tune machine, the Ninja Tune family now count Grammy Award-winning Thundercat and jazz giant Kamasi Washington as staples of their current stable.
By nature, the label are continually looking for new and innovative ways to develop the brand, having grown from the brainchild of the two-man Coldcut team to a living, breathing organisation boasting 70+ employees based all over the world. It has encouraged interactive technology, embraced the audio-visual world, created its own publishing company, Just Isn’t Music, and made innovative use of software
Social Activism: Ninja Tune devote time and resources to working on non-profit initiatives to support the community around them and also to develop a dialogue with their audiences on relevant social issues. Initiatives they have got involved in include inner city music workshops, supporting local fundraisers (an employee runs The Indie Music Cup) and directly reducing their carbon imprint through cutting edge technologies. Ninja Tune have recently expanded their commitment to Social Activism by taking on a consultant and several exciting projects are being developed.