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Playground magazine

Record Label



Present location: London, UK

Since: 1979

Sub-labels: Detox Artifacts UK, Guernica



4AD is a British label founded in 1979 by Ivo Watts-Russell, producer of Cocteau Twins' debut and driving force behind This Mortal Coil, alongside Peter Kent. It is backed up financially by Banquet Records (at present, the label is part of the Beggars Group, with Matador, Rough Trade and XL Recordings). In the early days, the label released work by Cocteau Twins and Dead Can Dance, but later they entered the American market - after signing Throwing Muses, their first American band, and Pixies. Their transatlantic success was such that they opened an office in LA, after which bands like The Breeders, Red House Painters and Unrest joined their roster. In 1992 they signed a distribution deal with Warner Bros. Records, which started a new era for 4AD.

Their independent spirit remained, and they continued releasing material by bands like Tarnation, Mojave 3 and Pale Saints. At the turn of this century, their best years were about to begin, thanks to the signing of bands like TV On The Radio, M. Ward, Blonde Redhead, Deerhunter, St. Vincent and Bon Iver. They have recently started the “4AD Sessions” series, featuring videos intimate live sessions by several bands on the roster, such as Twin Shadow, Iron & Wine and Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti. During the nineties, 4AD started two subsidiary labels, Detox Artifacts UK and Guernica, both of which are currently inactive.

Selected discography

Dead Can Dance: “Within The Realm Of A Dying Sun” (1987)

Cocteau Twins: “Treasure” (1984)

This Mortal Coil: “It’ll End In Tears” (1984)

Red House Painters: “Red House Painters” (1993)

Pixies: “Doolittle” (1989)

Throwing Muses: “The Real Ramona” (1991)

Mojave 3: “Out Of Tune” (1998)

TV On The Radio: “Return Of The Cookie Mountain” (2006)

The National: “High Violet” (2010)

Deerhunter: “Halcyon Digest” (2010)

St. Vincent: “Strange Mercy” (2011)


Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti

Blonde Redhead

Bon Iver

Camera Obscura

Cocteau Twins

Dead Can Dance


Gang Gang Dance

Iron & Wine


M. Ward

Mojave 3

Pale Saints


Red House Painters

Scott Walker


The Big Pink

The Breeders

The National

This Mortal Coil

Throwing Muses

TV On The Radio

Twin Shadow