Simon Williams – Founder, Fierce Panda, London

The independent music scene is very serene, it’s very well organised because you have to micromanage everything. It’s more chaotic at a major where you’ve got 23 people working on one project. I’ve been in the major system and it’s never worked. They can smell indie, you go into one of those planning meetings and you’re the one who smells of Fosters, tobacco, failure, desperation and sweat. Everyone else there is super cool, none of them have been to a gig in the past week and that’s why they smell gorgeous.


Every idea I’ve ever had hasn’t been mine. I’ve literally stolen everything. I remember meeting Steve Lamacq in 1988 when we were selling our fanzines at Dingwalls. He joined the NME so I followed him there, then he went off to radio and I followed him there. Then he set up a label and I thought that looked like fun. Besides actually marrying his wife I couldn’t have done more to steal his intellectual property.

My favourite moment of my career is probably seeing Coldplay at the Bull and Gate in Kentish Town. It was absolutely rammed and at the height of their A&R frenzy. They were halfway through ‘Shiver’ and were so brilliant I had to remove myself from the room and go to the bar. You can’t possibly tell if a band’s going to be enormous and the more people say it, the worse it is. Coldplay were ignored for six months and Steve Lamacq playing them on the radio changed it for them. Who would have thought when we were selling fanzines at Dingwalls that 11 years later we’d be breaking the biggest band in the world? We’d have been laughing at each other if someone had said that.