Bringing together an array of music legends and rapidly rising new talent, the AIM Awards 2021 saw yet another brilliant display of the independent community’s remarkable strength and ingenuity.
Adding two more wins to her AIM Awards tally after scooping the One To Watch in 2020, bona fide star Arlo Parks takes home coveted trophies for UK Independent Breakthrough in association with YouTube Music and Best Independent Album in association with Spotify, the latter championing her phenomenal debut, Collapsed In Sunbeams. Another artist with two wins under their belt for 2021 is ENNY, who caps a sublime year by triumphing in the Best Independent Track category in association with Facebook for Peng Black Girls ft. Amia Brave and One To Watch in association with BBC Music Introducing, which tips rising stars heading for greatness.
Well and truly overcoming the sophomore slump, A Hero’s Death by Fontaines D.C. has ridden a wave of critical acclaim since its release and reigned supreme in the Best [Difficult] Second Album category in association with BBC Radio 6 Music, with Wesley Joseph’s exquisite self-directed visuals for Thrilla recognised in Best Independent Video in association with VEVO.
The electronic music community is well represented too, as Jayda G scoops International Breakthrough in association with Deezer and Elkka’s vibrant twist on Ela Minus’ ‘megapunk’ lands Best Independent Remix in association with SoundCloud.
Working Men’s Club took the prize for Best Creative Packaging with the RAW Edition of their infectious self-titled debut, released by Heavenly Recordings. American singer songwriter Lauv notches his first AIM Awards win with the PPL Award For Most Played New Independent Artist, while the public voted in their droves to crown Ben Böhmer the winner of Best Live [Streamed] Act in association with On Air. The strength of independent labels are deservedly highlighted once again, as Forever Living Originals and Strut Records take home Best Independent Label in association with [Integral] and Best Small Label in association with Believe respectively for their essential records and work unearthing new sounds.
As well as highlighting fresh talent, the AIM Awards is also about honouring those who have paved the way. An uncompromising trailblazer, Joan Armatrading CBE scoops Outstanding Contribution To Music in association with Merlin after reinventing folk, pop, soul, blues and rock across an almost five decade career at the top. Having released her twentieth album, the critically acclaimed Consequences, last month, Armatrading retains the fiercely independent spirit and innovative approach to writing which has endeared her to so many, with no signs of slowing down. Similar can be said for Tricky and Adrian Sherwood, who both continue to push the musical envelope and win Pioneer in association with FUGA and Innovator in association with Amazon Music respectively.
With watch parties taking place across the country from south London to Scunthorpe, viewers tuned in to witness the AIM Awards once again play host to an array of astonishing performances throughout the ceremony. In a genre-spanning live show, Lava La Rue, Tricky, Working Men’s Club and ENNY took to the stage to celebrate all corners of the independent community at its very finest.
Receiving both the Best Independent Album and UK Independent Breakthrough trophies, Arlo Parks said: ‘I want to say a big big thank you to my fans, to my team, I'm grateful to be growing every day as an independent artist and this period has been so difficult, so chaotic and so confusing, so to be able to bring people light in this time of need has been really special’
Winning the Outstanding Contribution to Music award, Joan Armatrading said: ‘Well I’d just like to say thank you to AIM for thinking of me for this Lifetime Achievement award and yes I did take it, because it is an honour. Very often you hear people saying that they don’t like awards because awards are meaningless, but I think mostly, they’re the people who haven’t been given an award… and I think it’s a great honour, so thank you, thank you for thinking of me, thank you for staying with that thought and for actually inviting me to receive the award. Thank you.’
On the AIM Awards 2021, AIM CEO Paul Pacifico said: ‘Having been through one of the toughest times in music history, this years’ Awards celebrate the humanity at the heart of the independent music community. The relationships between people, whether artists and their teams, independent distributors, and the platforms and independent record stores out there surviving and thriving in spite of challenges of the day. And of course, the fans, the people that make all of this possible. We’re a mutually reinforcing community that stands and succeeds together. Congratulations to all of our winners!’
For the first time ever, the winners of the Local Heroes Awards in association with BBC Music Introducing have been announced. Nominated by BBC Introducing presenters throughout the regional territories, the new category shines a light on individuals, artists or companies who have demonstrated unwavering support for their local community. These winners have brought people closer together at a time of isolation, using their voice(s) to make lasting change, provide support, expertise or funds.