During 1978, Daniel Miller began recording music, using synthesisers, under the name The Normal. He recorded the tracks "T.V.O.D." and "Warm Leatherette" and distributed them through Rough Trade Shops under the label name Mute Records. The label was formed initially just to release the one single. "T.V.O.D."/"Warm Leatherette" became a cult hit ensuring the future of the label.
In May 2002, Mute Records was bought by EMI for £23m. Daniel Miller remained in charge of the company's global activities. EMI kept the rights of the Mute archives when Miller took the company independent in 2010.
(Read more at Wikipedia.)
Links to Peel
Peel was an early supporter of Mute Records, giving airtime to debut single release ‘Warm Leatherette / TVOD’ by label founder Daniel Miller as The Normal in May 1978,  as the DIY bedroom operation quickly developed into one of the UK’s leading independent labels, focusing especially on electronic music.
The DJ was also a huge fan of Miller’s swift switch as a recording artist to unlikely synthpop cover versions of rock and roll classics, under the Silicon Teens alias. Other early releases from Mute, including albums by Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft and Fad Gadget, were also featured on late-night Radio One.
As a regular Top Of The Pops presenter between 1982 and 1987, Peel witnessed at first hand the sustained chart success of Mute band Depeche Mode and offshoots such as Yazoo, Erasure and Assembly, who deployed the vocal talents of former Undertones singer Feargal Sharkey. While Yazoo did record a single Peel session, the DJ appears to have viewed such commercial fare as largely outside his radio remit, but the label also continued to release artists far from the mainstream, including Slovenian industrial session band Laibach and experimental German outfit Einstürzende Neubauten.
Despite the label’s association with electronic music, Mute provided a new home for Peel favourites Birthday Party, and subsequently Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, after their departure from fellow indie label 4AD, as well as a reformed Wire in the second half of the 1980s, following releases for earlier projects of former members. Another arrival was Mark Stewart, once of the Pop Group.
Elsewhere, Mute sub-label Blast First emerged as a firm favourite of the DJ, focusing on US alternative rock such as session bands Sonic Youth and Big Black, while electronic dance music subsidiary NovaMute also gained airtime, with releases by Cristian Vogel, Si Begg and others. There were also early links with Peel-approved Warp Records of Sheffield, via Mute dance offshoot Rhythm King (Cookie Crew, S-Express, etc). Meanwhile, the Mute group started to pick up rights to reissue classic catalogue recordings by vintage Peel-supported artists such as Throbbing Gristle, Can and Cabaret Voltaire.
Largely left out of the Britpop boom, Mute found fresh stability in the new century with the surprise worldwide success of Moby’s sample-heavy album ‘Play’ (1999), opening the way to the label’s sale to EMI in 2002. With Daniel Miller still in place despite the ownership change, Peel featured continuing releases in a series of ‘Rough Trade Shops’ compilations put out by Mute, which would return to the independent sector early in the following decade.
Following the DJ’s death in late 2004, Miller publicly recalled Peel’s early radio support for ‘Warm Leatherette’ and described his on-air praise for the Silicon Teens version of ‘Memphis Tennessee’ as “one of the biggest moments in my entire career in music.”
Mute artists who recorded Peel sessions. List includes sessions when the artists were not on Mute.
- Add N to (X): (4 sessions, 1997-2002)
- Afghan Whigs: (1 session, 1994)
- Apparat: (1 session, 2004)
- Appliance: (4 sessions, 1998-2002)
- Birthday Party: (4 sessions, 1980-82)
- Cabaret Voltaire: (2 sessions, 1981-84)
- Can: (4 sessions, 1973-75)
- Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds: (1 session, 1984)
- Clock DVA: (1 session, 1983)
- Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft: (1 session, 1979)
- Echoboy: (3 sessions, 1999-2003)
- Einstürzende Neubauten: (1 session, 1983)
- Richie Hawtin: (3 sessions, 1994-2004)
- Holger Hiller: (1 session, 1987)
- Inspiral Carpets: (4 sessions, 1988-90)
- Laibach: (2 sessions, 1986-87)
- Liars: (2 sessions, 2002-04)
- Lift to Experience: (2 sessions, 2001)
- New Fast Automatic Daffodils: (3 sessions, 1989-1993)
- New Order: (3 sessions, 1981-98)
- Pussy Galore: (1 session, 1990)
- Renegade Soundwave: (1 session, 1987)
- Luke Slater: (2 sessions, 1994-2000)
- Jon Spencer Blues Explosion: (1 session, 1993)
- SPK: (1 session, 1983)
- Wire: (5 sessions, 1978-2002)
- Yazoo: (1 session, 1982)
The list below covers Festive Fifty entries on Mute; it does not include entries by Mute artists on other labels.
- Add N to (X): 1999 Festive Fifty: Metal Fingers In My Body #37
- Appliance: 1999 Festive Fifty: Food Music #44
- Assembly: 1983 Festive Fifty: Never Never #23
- Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds: 1984 Festive Fifty: Saint Huck #11 // 1985 Festive Fifty: Tupelo #35 // 1986 Festive Fifty: By The Time I Get To Phoenix #45 // 1988 Festive Fifty: The Mercy Seat #10 // 1990 Festive Fifty: The Ship Song #19
- Inspiral Carpets (featuring Mark E Smith): 1994 Festive Fifty: I Want You #1
- Jon Spencer Blues Explosion: 1996 Festive Fifty: 2Kindsa Love #22
- Yazoo: 1982 Festive Fifty: Only You #12 / Don't Go #60
Peel plays of various artist (v/a) albums released on the Mute label. For v/a releases on the Blast First subsidiary, see dedicated label page.
- Rough Trade Shops
(4xCD - Rough Trade Shops 25 Years)
- 13 February 2001: Buzzcocks: Boredom
- 15 March 2001: TV Personalities: Part-Time Punks
- 22 March 2001 (Radio Eins): TV Personalities: Part-Time Punks
(7" EP - Rough Trade Shops: Rock And Roll 1)
- 12 February 2003: Akufen: New Process
- 12 February 2003: Mountain Goats: See America Right
- 13 February 2003: Crossover: Phostographt
- 19 February 2003: Melt Banana: Creeps In A White Cake
- 20 February 2003: Pretty Girls Make Graves: Speakers Push The Air
(2xCD - Rough Trade Shops Post Punk 01)
- 18 June 2003: Gang Of Four: I Found That Essence Rare
- 25 June 2003: Slits: Shoplifting
- 26 June 2003 (Radio Eins): Gang Of Four: I Found That Essence Rare
- 28 August 2003 (Radio Eins): Au Pairs: You
- Official site
- Discovering Depeche Mode: Interview with Daniel Miller of Mute Records (2016)