AIM Independent Music Awards
28th September 2022
Across an awards ceremony and a live show, the AIM Independent Music Awards 2022 celebrated talent, diversity, change and tenacity in a challenging industry. Niels van der Linden was there.
The AIM Independent Music Awards 2022 held last night at London’s Roundhouse was more than a celebration of talent. Across 20 categories, including Best Live Performer, Innovator Award and Best Independent Album, the event celebrated diversity, change and tenacity in an industry that multiple winners described as challenging.
Best Independent Album for Mom winner Cleo Sol said: “We do things our way and it’s not always easy, but it’s very rewarding.” And [PIAS] Founders Kenny Gates and Michelle Lambott (Independent Champion winners) provided some inspiration as they detailed the struggles they’ve overcome over the past 40 years.
Few have matched Stormzy for superstar status, with other winners ranging from relative newcomers like Nia Archives (one to watch) and Wet Leg (UK independent breakthrough) to festival headliners like The Libertines (special recognition). The rapper, winner of the Diversity Champion Award for his work with charities #Merky Foundation and #Merky Books, was particularly triumphant.
“I encourage everyone in the room today not to use diversity as just a buzz word,” he said. “Whatever position you’re in, whatever role you might be playing, try to be a real driver for it and not just see it as a quota or a box to tick, and see the value and worth of being diverse.”
Tahliah, winner of Best Independent EP/Mixtape for Angelica, has been equally outspoken on transgender rights. “Since Angelica is such an autobiographical record and my way of taking and sharing my own experiences of the world, I hope that by winning this award, it will not only reflect on me as an artist but also shine a light on how important . recording, nurturing and recognizing our marginalized identities,” she said.
“Variety” can be used to describe the evening’s live music performances. Pixie And her three-piece backing band got it all together with a four-song miniset of dreamy guitars, summery melodies and (for tonight) synth drums from the brilliant indie pop bigs. There’s a touch of the mid-’90s (think Doddy meets Natalie Imbruglia in Cornershop) as playful as her music: big on smiles and sashaying Kylie.
Lethal Bijl, celebrated for his outstanding contribution to music during the awards show, turned up the heat with a stage setup on red, smoke and some stunning techno — plus various tracks celebrating his two decades in the industry. The chatty, laid-back MC is playing his first live gig since the pandemic, giving us Oi! took it all the way from, a performance of a quiet, introspective track written during lockdown on his breakout hit (“You May Have Seen Us on Top of the Pops”) debut as a member of the More Fire Crew. It was a quiet moment in a high-impact hands-in-the-air show that was packed with even guest appearances from JME and Giggs and turned into an audience moshpit.
The night’s headliners harnessed that riotous energy, the libertines. Twenty-five years have passed since they formed, but the fantastically rough sound around the edges of the quartet and the feeling that everything could crumble at any second is still proudly present. Ramshackle, but clearly rehearsed, they put on a brilliant performance built around the palpable bond between front men Carl Barratt and Pete Doherty. Whether trading lead vocals, noodling together on their guitars between songs or sharing the microphone cheek to cheek, the pair were clearly having as much fun as crowd surfers up front.
Rollickers Up The Bracket and What A Wester set the tone, other standouts included the still unexpected What Katie Did, the catch-a-breath ballad You’re My Waterloo (with Barat on piano), and what must rank as the band’s happiest-sounding Amidst Doc: Can’t stand me now. As that turmoil felt like ancient history, a sense of celebration filled the Roundhouse once more—only fitting for a day that honored independent music.
AIM Independent Music Awards 2022 winners
Diversity Champion: Stormzy
Best Independent Album: Cleo Sol – Mother
Best Independent Track: Nova Twins – Rivals
UK Independent Breakthrough: Wet Feet
International Breakthrough: Blxst
Best Live Performer: Mitsky
the best [Difficult] Second album: Nilufar Yania – Painless
Innovator Award: Rina Sawayama
Outstanding Contribution to Music: Lethal Bijl
Special Recognition: Libertines
Best Independent EP/Mixtape: Tahliah – Angelica
Best Independent Remix: eBay’s Champion Remix – Lavender and Red Roses ft. Jorja Smith
One to Watch: Nia Archives
Best Independent Video: Jessie – 3210
PPL Award for Most Played New Independent Artist: DOD
Best Creative Campaign: Melly Todd – Malu
Best Independent Label: Rough Trade Records
Best Boutique Label: Local Action
Independent Champion: Kenny Gates and Michelle Lambot of [PIAS]
Music Entrepreneur of the Year: Corey Johnson – CEO and founder of Defenders Ant.
By Niels van der Linden. You can see his author profile for Louder Than War here. As he tweeted @nilsvdlinden and his website www.nilsvanderlinden.com.
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