First Word Records was born in 2003 as a collaboration between promoter Aly Gillani and deejay Andy H. Frustrated by not seeing the music they love get the exposure it deserved, the duo decided that there was a gap that needed filling. As the year came to an end a group of musicians, deejays, designers, emcees and producers had come together to cook up the fresh new sound of “Two Syllables”, our debut compilation that was released in April 2004, preceded by a split 12″ from Homecut Directive (ft Corinne Bailey Rae) and Tommy Evans.

Since then, the label has grown to house numerous artists, including kidkanevil, 6ix Toys, French production duo Souleance, The Simonsound, DMC regular Mike-L & the funkiest horn section in the UK, The Haggis Horns. The sound of our output has developed as we have as individuals – the foundation is still the jazzy hip hop of our first releases, but encompasses everything we love in music. Today’s Mathematics’ live broken beat might seem worlds apart from the retro funk of The Haggis Horns and the seismic beats of kidkanevil, but to us the common thread that runs through it all is clear. All our music is truly modern soul music – conscious lyricism, tight beats and heavy basslines. This is music that’s equally at home in the clubs as it is leaking out of your late-night headphones. Like Duke Ellington said – “If it sounds good, it is good”.

Aly Gillani (DJ Gilla), Leeds, December 2009

On a slightly related note – thanks to all of you who have paid for music from us over the years. As a small independent label we massively appreciate those brave souls who continue to buy music. Without your continued support we would literally cease to exist. So thanks! Please carry on pushing what we do, it’s genuinely appreciated and please come say hi to us if you see any of us at a show. We really believe in what we do and it’s gratifying to think that a few of you believe in us too. Keep supporting independent music!