Part of the alternative

SWP Records is a small independent record label, started by drummer/composer/producer/field-recordist Michael Baird in 1986 due to a perceived lack of vision in the established record business. We are based in The Netherlands, in the city of Utrecht. SWP Records is an activity of the Stichting Sharp Wood Productions (Chamber of Commerce nr. 41181547), a non-profit organisation dedicated to the furtherment of music.

We release music that regular labels won’t touch! What’s the matter with them? What’s the matter with us?

SWP 019 Banjo Boy

We believe in the music we release, we believe that our albums contribute – even if it’s just in a small way – to the further development of music, in fact we believe that there is a place for thinking and creating which is independent of the market. With SWP Records you will discover music that can be found no where else.

SWP Records stands for quality products. We want you to enjoy a great sound, seated in your favourite chair opposite your hi-fi, and we take a lot of time and trouble mixing, remastering, and mastering the music, accompanied by interesting, informative, and accurate booklets to enhance the listening experience. Because we care about the music and respect the musicians.

We release:
1. the music of Zambian-born drummer/composer Michael Baird,
2. music from central, eastern & southern Africa,
3. anything else that is unique and forgotten!

Releases include the acclaimed 22-cd series ‘Historical Recordings by Hugh Tracey’, with recordings from the 40s and 50s made by one of the great pioneers of ethnomusicology, digitally remastered from the original fieldtapes, compiled and produced by Michael Baird. This series is not a re-issue of an old series, it is a new series including many tracks never published before. Furthermore, Michael has made several field trips himself – to Zambia, Zimbabwe and Lesotho, recording beautiful music no one else either knows or bothers about, resulting in 6 albums so far, all released om SWP Records. Also two exciting compilations of Zambian popular music, covering the 60s, 70s and 80s. The sub-continent of central, eastern and southern Africa is abundant with great music. We find it annoying that so often people talk about ‘African music’, and it turns out they are referring to music from West Africa only! And then there is Michael Baird’s own music – called ‘voodoo-jazz’ by a German journalist, mixing African and European concepts with jazz, also described as ‘pleasantly irksome’, ‘original down to its innermost fibre’, ‘disarmingly idiosyncratic’, and 'an avantgardistic mix of African rhythms with European jazz and pop'.

Benjamin Wamunyima assisting Michael Baird with song translations
Benjamin Wamunyima assisting Michael Baird with song translations for SWP 019 Zambia Roadside
for SWP 019 Zambia Roadside

So there is an alternative – and SWP Records is part of it. If music is a sub-conscious stream of sounds then there is a main current – and there can be nothing wrong with that – but all the minor eddies, splashes and meanderings taking place at the sides are by no means less relevant. Welcome, enjoy your visit to our website and enjoy the music we have released.

You can order all our albums online securely via this site – with a valid creditcard. Your order will be dealt with directly and we will send it by airmail anywhere in the world.

If you live in the Netherlands, you can also pay by bank transfer – into our bank account, IBAN nr. NL61INGB0007324459 to the name of St. Sharp Wood Productions, in Utrecht, stating the catalogue number(s) of the cd(s) required.

Moreover, SWP Records are distributed through the ‘regular’ channels in Japan by Ahora Corporation, in the USA/Canada/Mexico by Forced Exposure, in the UK by Honest Jons, in the Netherlands/Belgium by Music And Words, in Rwanda by Ikirezi Bookshop Kigali, and in Zambia by Zamfactor Choma. And our entire catalogue is downloadable via iTunes.