Everything Is Recorded is a collaborative project spearheaded by Richard Russell, an influential British producer who runs the highly successful independent label XL Recordings. The collective's recordings are born from recording sessions taking place at Russell's London recording studios, featuring a wide range of R&B, hip-hop, indie, and jazz musicians, including XL regulars like Sampha and Giggs as well as more surprising guests such as Dirty Three violinist Warren Ellis and American saxophone virtuoso Kamasi Washington. While anything is possible within these sessions, the results often encompass dark trip-hop, vulnerable soul, and brooding rap.
Russell became the A&R manager for XL in the early '90s, when the fledgling label was initially focusing on rave music and techno. As part of the duo Kicks Like a Mule, Russell scored a U.K. Top Ten hit with the 1992 breakbeat hardcore classic "The Bouncer." While XL earned much of its early success with dance acts like the Prodigy and SL2, Russell (who had taken full control of the label by the middle of the '90s) helped broaden the label's scope, with artists such as indie folk songwriter Badly Drawn Boy, Detroit garage rock duo the White Stripes, and grime pioneer Dizzee Rascal all releasing landmark recordings on the label during the first half of the 2000s. Russell continued working behind the scenes as a producer and musician — he produced Gil Scott-Heron's final album, I'm New Here, and worked with Damon Albarn on several projects, including DRC Music, Bobby Womack's The Bravest Man in the Universe, and Albarn's Everyday Robots. Russell also produced Ibeyi's self-titled 2015 debut.
Soon after, Russell began hosting the studio sessions that would form the basis of the Everything Is Recorded project. A website appeared, documenting studio and radio sessions, and debut EP Close But Not Quite arrived on XL in May of 2017, featuring the Sampha-sung title track and appearances by Scritti Politti's Green Gartside and London-based rapper Obongjayar, among others. Subsequent singles "Mountains of Gold" (with Sampha, Ibeyi, Wiki, and Kamasi Washington) and "Show Love" (with Syd and Sampha) appeared later in the year. Early in 2018, "Bloodshot Red Eyes" (featuring Gartside and Infinite) was issued just ahead of the full-length Everything Is Recorded by Richard Russell. Dedicated to Gil Scott-Heron and featuring a cover of his "Cane," the album debuted at number 66 on the U.K. chart in March. ~ Paul Simpson