Secretly Canadian

Secretly Canadian is an American independent record label based in Bloomington, Indiana with offices in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Austin, London, Paris, Amsterdam, and Berlin. Secretly Canadian is a label included in Secretly Group, which also includes Dead Oceans and Jagjaguwar. Secretly Group includes the three record labels as well as a music publisher known as [ Secretly Publishing], representing artists, writers, film makers, producers, and comedians.


Secretly Canadian was founded in 1996 by Chris and Ben Swanson, Eric Weddle, and Jonathan Cargill while they attended Indiana University. The Swanson brothers, originally from Fargo, North Dakota, decided to move to Bloomington after a Billboard article painted the Midwestern college town's scene as the next Seattle and an incubator for up-and-coming bands.

Before Secretly Canadian was founded, Chris Swanson and Eric Weddle met in 1995 as sophomores involved in Indiana University's campus radio station, WIUX. Then Chris met Jonathan Cargill through a job at the Collins Living-Learning Center cafeteria on campus. Soon after, Chris' younger brother Ben Swanson moved to Bloomington to earn his undergraduate degree from the Jacobs School of Music in ethnomusicology.

In 1996, Secretly Canadian was founded out of the Swanson's house. They had little experience and spent months researching how to make a CD.

The label's first official release was a re-issue of an album by June Panic from Grand Forks, North Dakota; the Glory Hole CD. The second release in 1997 was Jason Molina's, under the Songs: Ohia moniker, often referred to as "The Black Album". After the Swanson brothers tracked down Molina's email address and drove hours to Molina's in-store gig at Adult Crash in New York. After signing Molina, the record label became more popular in the indie music scene.

Secretly Canadian then signed other notable early releases, including Marmoset and Swearing At Motorists.

Weddle soon left to form label Family Vineyard – and later followed by Cargill as well. After that, Chris Swanson and Darius Van Arman became friends in 1999 and Secretly Canadian joined forces with Van Arman's Jagjaguwar.

The early 2000s yielded reissues from Swell Maps, Nikki Sudden, and Danielson. Damien Jurado, the Seattle singer-songwriter, made his way to Secretly Canadian in 2002. Two years later, Jens Lekman joined the label's roster.

Anohni also signed to the label in the 2000s. Formerly known as Antony and the Johnsons earlier in her career, the Swanson brothers became enamored with Antony and the Johnsons’ self-titled debut from 2000. Antony and the Johnsons’ first record with Secretly Canadian, I Am a Bird Now, released in 2005, sold 100,000 copies in the first two months.

Secretly Canadian then signed The War on Drugs, the Philadelphia-based band whose third record, Lost in the Dream, struck as both a critical and commercial success in 2014. Secretly Canadian also began a partnership with [ Chimera Records] in the form of Yoko Ono's reissues beginning in 2016, and the debut release from William Eggleston, in 2017. Secretly Canadian's roster also includes Cherry Glazerr, Whitney, Alex Cameron, Joey Dosik, Stella Donnelly, Faye Webster, and serpentwithfeet, among many others.

In 2007, the addition of Dead Oceans to Secretly Canadian and Jagjaguwar's partnership led to the formation of Secretly Group. In 2015, Secretly Group began a partnership with The Numero Group as well.

In 2018, Secretly Canadian was listed as #8 on Paste Magazine's top 10 record labels of 2018. Jagjaguwar was listed as #4 and Dead Oceans was listed as #7.


Notable awards and honors

  • 2018, The War on Drugs, ‘A Deeper Understanding’ - Best Rock Album (WON)
  • 2017, Tig Notaro, ‘Boyish Girl Interrupted’ - Best Comedy Album (nominated)
  • 2014, Tig Notaro, ‘Tig Notaro Live’ - Best Comedy Album (nominated)

  • 2016, Tig Notaro, ‘Boyish Girl Interrupted’ (HBO) - Best Writing For A Variety Special (nominated)

  • 2019, serpentwithfeet, ‘soil’ - Album of the Year (finalist)
  • 2019, serpentwithfeet, ‘soil’ - Best Outlier Album (finalist)
  • 2019, serpentwithfeet, ‘soil’ - Best R&B Album (finalist)
  • 2018, Alex Cameron ‘Forced Witness’ - Best Outlier Album (finalist)
  • 2017, ANOHNI, ‘Drone Bomb Me’ - Video of the Year (finalist)
  • 2017, ANOHNI, ‘HOPELESSNESS’ - Best Dance/Electronic Album (finalist)
  • 2017, Whitney, ‘Light Upon the Lake’ - Breakthrough Artist of the Year (WON)
  • 2015, Secretly Canadian, Label of the Year (finalist)
  • 2015, The War on Drugs, ‘Lost in the Dream’ - Album of the Year (WON)
  • 2014, Secretly Canadian Label of the Year (finalist)

  • 2016, ANOHNI, ‘HOPELESSNESS’ (shortlist)
  • 2005, Antony and the Johnsons, ‘I Am a Bird Now’ (WON)

  • 2017, ANOHNI – Best Female Solo Artist (nominated)
  • 2015, The War on Drugs – Best International Group (nominated)
  • 2006, Antony and the Johnsons – Best British Male Solo Artists (nominated)

  • 2014, Secretly Group – Independent Label of the Year (nominated)

  • 2006, Antony and the Johnsons – Best Solo Artist (nominated)

  • 2015, Marlon Williams, ‘Marlon Williams’ - Best Blues and Roots Album (nominated)

  • 2018, Marlon Williams, ‘Make Way For Love’ - Album of the Year (WON)
  • 2018, Marlon Williams, ‘Make Way For Love’ - Best Alternative Artist (nominated)
  • 2018, Marlon Williams, ‘Make Way For Love’ - Best Solo Artist of the Year (WON)
  • 2015, Marlon Williams, ‘Marlon Williams’ - Album of the Year (nominated)
  • 2015, Marlon Williams, ‘Marlon Williams’ - Best Alternative Album of the Year (nominated)
  • 2015, Marlon Williams, “Dark Child” - Single of the Year (nominated)
  • 2015, Marlon Williams – Best Male Solo Artist (WON)
  • 2015, Marlon Williams – Breakthrough Artist of the Year (WON)