In our first ever virtual ceremony, the tenth anniversary AIM Independent Music Awards demonstrated that independent music is as vibrant and resilient as ever. Featuring performances from some of the scene’s leading talents including Little Simz, AJ Tracey, Arlo Parks, a special surprise performance from Erasure and two tributes to the great Tony Allen led by Femi Koleoso and Damon Albarn, the show was testament to the rich diversity and creativity that saw the sector shine in 2020.
After such a tough year for the whole industry, we were pleased to be able to provide this moment for the community to pause and come together to celebrate its collective achievements and the ongoing brilliance of independent music. We’d like to send a huge thank you to all of this year’s performers, entrants, nominees, sponsors, our host Tiffany Calver, and everybody who continues to make the AIM Independent Music Awards such a special occasion.
Massive congratulations to all of this year’s winners! From Sarathy Korwar to Yaeji, Arlo Parks and Jazz re:freshed, the list truly represents the diverse range of remarkable talent and innovation that is so unique to the independent sector. This year’s winners and nominees demonstrate the high calibre of artists, partner companies and individuals working in independent music right now! Take a look at the full list of AIM Awards 2020 winners below…
Grammy-nominated producer Flying Lotus won Best Independent Track in association with Facebook for his dream-like collaboration with Anderson .Paak ‘More’ from the epic 27-track album Flamagra. In a further nod to the electronic music community, Best Independent Remix in association with DesignScene was picked up by Nídia and Lafawndah for Nídia’s percussive reimagining of the Lafawndah’s track ‘Tourist’, ‘Tourist X Nídia Rework’.
Best Independent Album in association with Spotify went to jazz and Indo jazz drummer and composer Sarathy Korwar for his groundbreaking second studio album, More Arriving, exploring the reality of being Indian in a divided Britain. Meanwhile, FKA twigs was awarded Best [Difficult] Second Album in association with Proper Music, for her ambitious, panoramic second full-length LP MAGDALENE, which was met with widespread critical acclaim and featured in 2019 best album lists by The Guardian, The Independent, Billboard, NME, Pitchfork and more.
Jazz prodigy and Mercury Prize nominee Moses Boyd took home UK Independent Breakthrough in association with YouTube Music, in recognition of his status as a breakout star of the London jazz scene, while Korean-American electronic artist Yaeji, who blends sounds from house and hip hop, received International Breakthrough in association with Deezer. Having dominated the airwaves, Freya Ridings bagged the PPL Award for Most Played New Independent Artist.
Digga D’s Double Tap Diaries won Best Creative Packaging in association with Signature Brew, while ever-popular metal group Five Finger Death Punch triumphed in the Best Live Act in association with Creative Technology category by public vote.
Directed by Matthew Thorne, Best Independent Video in association with Vevo went to The Howl & The Hum for ‘The Only Boy Racer Left on the Island’, exploring themes of lost youth, family and masculinity set against the working-class suburbs of Northern Adelaide.
Alongside a surprise performance and the world-first live performance of their new track ‘Nerves of Steel’, Erasure’s Vince Clarke was named as the first recipient of the Special Recognition Award for his work as part of Erasure, Depeche Mode and Yazoo and pioneering role in the field of synth-pop, having worked closely with the famed label Mute for over 40 years.
The night also featured a moving tribute performance to Tony Allen from Blur’s Damon Albarn, who performed ‘Go Back’, one of his many collaborations with the legendary drummer. He was joined by Allen’s long-time friends and collaborators Ezra Collective’s Femi Koleoso, Gorillaz’ Seye Adelekan and Remi Kabaka Jr, as well as Allen’s The Good, The Bad & The Queen bandmate Simon Tong.
Koleoso curated a special medley as a further tribute, featuring UK jazz scene’s leading lights Nubya Garcia, Mutale Chashi, Tobi Adenaike, Elias Atkinson, Richie Seivwright, Deschanel Gordon, Junior Alli, alongside Koleoso. Allen’s brother Ignatius Allen picked up the Outstanding Contribution to Music Award in association with Merlin on behalf of Allen who received the award posthumously.
Little Simz and AJ Tracey gave compelling live performances, after picking up the Pioneer Award in association with Evoke Studios and Innovator Award in association with Amazon Music, respectively. Leading the way for virtual awards, these performances took place in a state-of-the-art extended reality studio, immersing performers in a unique, interactive environment brought to life by the addition of 3D graphics.
On the industry side, cult South London label Speedy Wunderground, whose approach to record production sees all studio sessions completed in just one day, was the recipient of Best Small Label in association with Key Production. Jazz :refreshed was awarded Best Independent Label in association with [PIAS], in honour of its pivotal role in the British jazz explosion. IMPALA’s Helen Smith was revealed as this year’s Indie Champion in association with MCPS.
Little Simz: “I remember winning Best Independent Album in the year 2016 with A Curious Tale of Trials + Persons. To now be here, 2020, picking up the Pioneer Award is insane. My journey has definitely been the stairs and not the escalators but it’s been so worth it […] The hardest thing you’ll ever do as an independent artist is to remain independent but the rewards are so great and yeah I think the best thing to do is to stay on it, surround yourself with people that believe in you and believe in your journey, and you’ll get there”.
AJ Tracey: “From performing last year to taking something home this year, I appreciate all the support and love. Obviously I’m gonna keep doing what I do, keep trying to pave the way”.
FKA twigs: “MAGDALENE’s so precious to me, so it really means the world. Being an independent artist means every vision is my own and I get to express that, and my label releases without question or judgement. So thank you Young Turks, and thank you again this means everything”.
Sarathy Korwar: “Thank you so much for this award AIM. It means a lot to me. Being independent in today’s music industry means I get to tell my own stories without compromising on anything and I’m hugely grateful for that.”
Flying Lotus: “It feels like a true blessing to be able to receive an award and to be acknowledged in these times, when they make us feel like our work isn’t essential and what we do is just, whatever. So, thank you for the reminder that what we do is very important.”
Arlo Parks: “This is like a really special day and a really special moment for me and I feel really proud to be an independent artist so thank you very much for this.”
Moses Boyd: I’m really privileged for this particular award because I pride myself on being an independent artist and I think it’s really important in 2020 that artists coming up understand what it takes to make a product, what it takes to make a record, what’s required of an artist. I think the industry has changed so much. A lot more control and freedom is being handed back over to creatives, so I think it’s important that musicians and artists understand that, and hopefully this can be some sort of inspiration for those trying to follow in the sort of path of the independent artist”.
Helen Smith: “I can think of many many people who should get this Indie Champion award, across the European sector. And on the IMPALA board where a lot of decisions are taken that I think quite a few people would have described as a bit crazy. But maybe that’s why we’re getting this award today, because sometimes you just have to do crazy things. And like a champion you have to run like hell, don’t look around, and hold on.”
AIM Independent Music Awards Winners & Nominees (in order of presentation):
UK INDEPENDENT BREAKTHROUGH IN ASSOCIATION WITH YOUTUBE MUSIC
MOSES BOYD (WINNER)
BEST CREATIVE PACKAGING IN ASSOCIATION WITH SIGNATURE BREW
DIGGA D – DOUBLE TAP DIARIES (WINNER)
HANIA RANI – ‘ESJA’ SHEET MUSIC BOOK
MOTÖRHEAD – 1979
SOPHIE – OIL OF EVERY PEARL’S UN-INSIDES NON-STOP REMIX ALBUM
MOSES BOYD – DARK MATTER LP (DINKED EDITION)
SPECIAL RECOGNITION AWARD IN ASSOCIATION WITH FUGA
VINCE CLARKE (WINNER)
INDIE CHAMPION IN ASSOCIATION WITH MCPS
HELEN SMITH (WINNER)
BEST SMALL LABEL IN ASSOCIATION WITH KEY PRODUCTION
SPEEDY WUNDERGROUND (WINNER)
BEST INDEPENDENT REMIX IN ASSOCIATION WITH DESIGNSCENE
LAFAWNDAH – TOURIST X NÍDIA REWORK (WINNER)
KING OF THE ROLLERS – YOU GOT ME (S.P.Y. REMIX)
MAKAYA MCCRAVEN – GIL SCOTT-HERON – WE’RE NEW AGAIN
APPARAT – OUTLIER (SOLOMUN REMIX)
MARIE DAVIDSON – WORK IT(SOULWAX REMIX)
ONE TO WATCH IN ASSOCIATION WITH BBC MUSIC INTRODUCING
ARLO PARKS (WINNER)
BEST INDEPENDENT VIDEO IN ASSOCIATION WITH VEVO
BLACK PUMAS – COLORS
BOMBAY BICYCLE CLUB – EAT, SLEEP, WAKE (NOTHING BUT YOU)
FLYING LOTUS – BLACK BALLOONS REPRISE (FT. DENZEL CURRY)
GREENTEA PENG – MR. SUN (MISS DA SUN)
THE HOWL & THE HUM – THE ONLY BOY RACER LEFT ON THE ISLAND (WINNER)
ZEBRA KATZ – MOOR
INNOVATOR AWARD IN ASSOCIATION WITH AMAZON MUSIC
AJ TRACEY (WINNER)
BEST [DIFFICULT] SECOND ALBUM IN ASSOCIATION WITH PROPER MUSIC
FLOATING POINTS – CRUSH
FKA TWIGS – MAGDALENE (WINNER)
JOE ARMON JONES – TURN TO CLEAR VIEW
LIFE – A PICTURE OF GOOD HEALTH
MOSES SUMNEY – GRÆ
INTERNATIONAL BREAKTHROUGH IN ASSOCIATION WITH DEEZER
PIONEER AWARD IN ASSOCIATION WITH EVOKE STUDIOS
LITTLE SIMZ (WINNER)
PPL AWARD FOR MOST PLAYED NEW INDEPENDENT ARTIST
FREYA RIDINGS (WINNER)
BEST INDEPENDENT ALBUM IN ASSOCIATION WITH SPOTIFY
BROOKE BENTHAM – EVERYDAY NOTHING
EVERYTHING IS RECORDED – FRIDAY FOREVER
KIDJO OJUA – THE MIXTAPE
KIM GORDON – NO HOME RECORD
LAURA MARLING – SONG FOR OUR DAUGHTER
MOSES BOYD – DARK MATTER
NICK CAVE & THE BAD SEEDS – GHOSTEEN
THE NINTH WAVE – INFANCY
PHOENIX DA ICEFIRE & HUSKY BROWN – PANACEA
SARATHY KORWAR – MORE ARRIVING (WINNER)
BEST LIVE ACT IN ASSOCIATION WITH CREATIVE TECHNOLOGY
FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH (WINNER)
RED RUM CLUB
BEST INDEPENDENT TRACK IN ASSOCIATION WITH FACEBOOK
AJ TRACEY – DINNER GUEST (FT. MOSTACK)
DIGGA D – NO DIET
FLYING LOTUS – MORE (FT. ANDERSON .PAAK) (WINNER)
KING KRULE – ALONE, OMEN 3
LAUV – MODERN LONELINESS
SORRY – RIGHT ROUND THE CLOCK
SQUID – SLUDGE
SUDAN ARCHIVES – CONFESSIONS
TONY ALLEN & HUGH MASEKELA – WE’VE LANDED
YVES TUMOR – GOSPEL FOR A NEW CENTURY
BEST INDEPENDENT LABEL IN ASSOCIATION WITH [PIAS]
JAZZ RE:REFRESHED (WINNER)
OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION TO MUSIC IN ASSOCIATION WITH MERLIN
TONY ALLEN (WINNER)