'She's a flagship artist': Nadine Shah launches EMI North with Leeds-based label's first album

'She's a flagship artist': Nadine Shah launches EMI North with Leeds-based label's first album

There’s another milestone in the history of perhaps the UK’s most famous record label.

Nadine Shah’s Filthy Underneath is the debut album release for a directly signed artist on EMI North– the Leeds-based arm of the Universal Music UK record company. Just to underline the fresh start, the catalogue number for the vinyl release is EMINV1.

An indie artist and a critical darling for her first four albums, Shah’s new record (released February 23) also marks her move to a major. 

The album has been three years in the making and tracks an especially turbulent period of Shah’s life. She opens up about that songwriting process in the latest edition of Music Week.

Kitchen Sink (Infectious/BMG), her previous album, made the Top 30 in 2020. 

A BBC Radio 6 Music favourite, she’s on the network’s A List with the single Greatest Dancer. She played a Maida Vale session for Steve Lamacq’s show last week.

For Shah, who had always been an independent artist, the label move is a chance to find a different kind of musical home. 

“We’re a minor within a major,” said EMI North president Clive Cawley. “We operate an entirely separate office in Leeds, the staff are all regional. We just have the facility to tap into EMI when we need to. We have the major-label network and we’re building further networks in the region. And Nadine really fits into that being that she’s from the North East and she’s such an outspoken artist.” 

Nadine Shah signed to the label after Cawley visited her then-home in Ramsgate, on the South Coast, where the two talked about music for hours. 

“There are some proper ones out there, with Clive being one of them,” said Shah. “And then to discover there had never been a major-label presence outside of London…”

Shah told Music Week that she’s keen to see what the fuss is about regarding major labels and what signing to one could do for her. 

“I was just genuinely very curious,” she said. “It was like, ‘I want to see how it works there, what is so good? What will happen? And how could it help further my career if I’ve already made four albums, and I’m at this level? And I would like some help, actually.’” 

For his part, Cawley is determined to grow Shah’s audience. 

“I’m not going to go into the studio and ask to change the middle eight,” he told Music Week. “That’s not who I am and not what Nadine needs. She’s delivered the music and the conversations we’ve had with her and the North team are about the creative, the marketing and what we can do to put her on the next level. I’m not dismissing what’s happened before at indie labels, but I want to prove a point that we can do a bit extra and still retain credibility.”

There will also be support from the international department. Shah recalled that prior to this campaign she hadn’t played in mainland Europe for five years. In recent weeks, Shah joined Depeche Mode on the road in Europe and the UK, including a date at The O2. She previously supported the group back in 2013. 

Her own headline show at Heaven in April has sold out. Shah has now confirmed a November 22 date at O2 Forum Kentish Town.

For the album release, Nadine Shah has been performing new songs during the Filthy Underneath instore tour, including a date at Reflex Records in Newcastle.

Her move to EMI comes as the North East scene is changing. 

“And it’s another reason I’m excited about EMI North,” she explained. “They’re partnering with other companies, like Clue Records. Clue have my best friend Jackie Purver, who’s in a band called Pit Pony. I’m hoping it will really help bolster labels like that.” 

“She’s fully into it, in terms of supporting regional structure for creatives,” said Cawley of Shah. “She’s a flagship artist for us because she’s from the region, but also wants to support us in supporting the region. It’s a two-way street and she shows our intent.” 

Subscribers can read the full Nadine Shah interview here.

PHOTOS: Jim Dyson/Getty

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