20 Years Of Dew Process: Celebrations For Aus Indie Powerhouse

6 September 2022 | 8:00 am | Stephen Green

"We wanted to build careers, long term artists that mattered to people. No shortcuts and play the long game."

Dew Process, one of Australia's most successful independent labels, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this week, aptly celebrating with a party this Tuesday at Brisbane's BIGSOUND, in the hometown where it all began. 

Always a powerhouse for talent, the 1990s and 2000s were huge decades for Brisbane music with the sector moving from the small cottage scene of the '70s and '80s into a major focus for A&R around Australia. With artists like Regurgitator, Savage Garden and Powderfinger putting the city on the map, majors flocking to check out what Queensland bands they could grab and a fast-growing live scene centred around Fortitude Valley, indie labels started springing up, including Oracle, Valve, Plus One, Hydrofunk, Modern Music and more. In early 2003, Splendour In The Grass co-founder and Powderfinger manager Paul Piticco recognised the space in the market for a properly-resourced nationally focused label based in the town, quickly becoming the flagship Queensland-based Australian indie. 

Dew Process (in partnership with Powderfinger's label Universal Music) opened its doors in 2003 with Piticco looking to change the game for artists. 

"I guess it was a little to do with being young and naïve and wanting to do things better," he said. "In the nineties, I was watching lots of labels sign bands up to ridiculous deals that were in effect death warrants for their careers. They would have a tonne of money spent on them, they would take their shot and if it was anything less than stellar they would be dropped and someone would yell ’next!'. We wanted to build careers, long-term artists that mattered to people, that was the intention then, and remains so to this day. I think that ideal runs across everything we do. No shortcuts and play the long game."

The first record to hit the shelves (yes, it was shelves back then) was from American rock act Sparta (which featured ex-members of At The Drive-In) and their EP Austere, making a statement that this was an Australian label with a global outlook. It was the label's very first Australian signing where they hit gold though (or platinum as is the case), with Sydney singer-songwriter Sarah Blasko picked up by the label after her EP Prelusive got the attention of triple j. Blasko's album The Overture & The Underscore was a critical and commercial hit in 2004, with commercial sales tipping platinum and the single Don't U Eva coming in at #27 on triple j's Hottest 100.

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With this early success spurring them on, Dew Process kept the hits coming in quick succession with Bernard Fanning's Tea And Sympathy hitting in 2005 and both The Grates' Gravity Won't Get You High and Blasko's second record hitting in 2006.

In 2007 The Panics' Cruel Guards became the year's big release and in 2008 The Living End moved to the label after a decade-long run at the top of the Australian rock scene, revitalising themselves with White Noise becoming one of their career-best moments. The label used the formula again with Jebediah's Kosciuszko album in 2011, giving them one of their biggest radio hits She's Like A Comet.

Just when you thought things couldn't get any bigger, a little band called Mumford & Sons chose Dew Process as their Australian partner, creating a phenomenon with Little Lion Man and the four-times-platinum monster album that contained it, Sigh No More. Proving it was no fluke, the band turned around a monster second album with the biggest hit of their career I Will Wait, clocking up six times platinum. 

Piticco reflected on the successes of the label and what his favourite moments have been over the twenty-year history. 

"So, so many. Having our first platinum record with Sarah Blasko, watching Bernard Fanning’s Tea And Sympathy prove solo excursions from popular bands don’t always end in disaster, having commercial radio power brokers tell you ‘you’ll never hear a banjo on Australian radio’ and then see Mumford & Sons come along and win the jjj hottest 100 and Little Lion Man was then all over aforesaid commercial stations, TKAY winning an ARIA last year and signing up Sam Fender recently. 

"But my favourite moments have with been with our team over years, so many different faces and places. High fiving a success, late nights in the office, the hustle and teamwork together and then watching the efforts of a small group of dedicated people change our music culture just a little for the better with the release of a recording."

The second decade of Dew Process was no less impressive, with international superstars like The Hives, London Grammar and Dropkick Murphy's rubbing shoulders on the roster with The John Steel Singers, Last Dinosaurs, Kingswood and WAAX. The label also stuck by its career artists with new albums from Sarah Blasko, Bernard Fanning, The Panics and The Grates.

Piticco reiterated the long-term nature of the label's outlook with its artists when asked which are his personal favourite albums in the Dew Process catalogue.

"Personally, The Grates Gravity Won’t Get You High,” he said. "I managed the band at the time and they were just on a roll with so much passion and idealism, they were unique and didn’t follow the rules. London Grammar also, whilst we didn’t A&R their first album, its raw beauty was astonishing to me. And finally Sarah Blasko's albums, there was four pieces of mindboggling craftsmanship over those ten years with her."


In more recent years, Dew Process has had success launching Australian artists on the international stage, proving that the label has evolved in the era of streaming. Tkay Maidza and Mallrat have become two of Australia's biggest female artists, with the latter's single Groceries clocking up a remarkable 77 million streams around the world. 

It's not just the successes that Dew Process is known for, but the amazing catalogue of albums (many A&Red by John Mullen who has been with the label since day one) waiting for discovery and re-discovery in the vaults of Australian music history. Whether it's Expatriate, Mosman Alder or Art Of Sleeping, Dew Process has always championed and funded great Aussie artists and respected the artistic results, regardless of the commercial outcome. We asked Piticco what his favourite 'hidden gem' is, lurking in the label's discography.

"That’s easy. Whitley’s album The Submarine. It still gets better with every listen, I think Lawrence Greenwood was Australia’s best-kept songwriting secret. Put The Submarine on late at night or on an easy Sunday and be filled with soul and wonder."

Two decades in, Dew Process remains one of Australia's most successful and active independent investors in Australian talent. 2022 has already seen new records from Planet, Thomas Porter, Mallrat, Noah Dillon and WAAX and the label doesn't seem to be slowing down any time soon. 

If we're still here celebrating Dew Process' 40th anniversary in twenty years time (and they certainly seem to be gearing up for another couple of big decades), what does Paul Piticco hope we're talking about then?

"I hope we are all talking about our current crop of artists and how they have become household names over the next decades. Sam Fender will be a legend by then, Sly Withers and Mallrat will be Aussie icons and the current Class of 2022 like Clea and Safety Club will be selling out arenas. More than anything though, I hope the next phase of the label and the team that is running it then stays true to our mantra of ‘building careers’. Very exciting times ahead."

Celebrate 20 Years of Dew Process this Tuesday September 6 from midnight at The Outpost as part of this year's BIGSOUND Festival with performances from Safety Club and Clea. 


First Decade: 2002-2012

2002 - Sparta - Austere (EP) - first Dew Process release
Sept 2002 - Mark Rae – Rae Road
2002 - Seafood – When Do We Start Fighting...
2002 - The Jeevas – 1, 2, 3, 4
2003 - J Mascis + The Fog – Free So Free
April 2003 - Sarah Blasko – Prelusive (EP)
2004 - The Tremors – Cash Up Front, No Kissing
Oct 2004 - Sarah Blasko – The Overture & The Underscore
2004 - Dungen – Ta Det Lugnt
July 2005 - Drag – The Way Out

Oct 2005 - Expatriate – Lovers Le Strange (EP)
2005 - Bernard Fanning – Tea & Sympathy
July 2006 - The Grates – Gravity Won't Get You High
July 2006 - The Predators – Pick Up the Pace (EP)
Oct 2006 - Sarah Blasko – What The Sea Wants, The Sea Will Have
2006 - Tilly And The Wall – Wild Like Children
2006 - Tokyo Police Club – A Lesson In Crime
April 2007 - Expatriate – In The Midst Of This
June 2007 - Tilly And The Wall – Bottoms Of Barrels
Sept 2007 - Whitley – The Submarine
2007 - The Panics – Cruel Guards

2007 - No Man's Woman compilation
Oct 2007 - Dropkick Murphys – The Meanest Of Times
2007 - Dungen – Tio Bitar
2007 - Shout Out Louds – Our Ill Wills
Aug 2008 - The Grates – Teeth Lost, Hearts Won.
2008 - The Living End – White Noise
2008 - Yves Klein Blue – Yves Klein Blue Draw Attention To Themselves (EP)

2008 - Tokyo Police Club – Elephant Shell
2008 - Port O'Brien – All We Could Do Was Sing
Jul 2008 - Dr. Dog – Fate
Aug 2008 - Delta Spirit – Ode To Sunshine
2008 - Tilly And The Wall – O
Jul 2009 - Sarah Blasko – As Day Follows Night
2009 - Ben Lee – The Rebirth Of Venus
2009 - Yves Klein Blue – Ragged & Ecstatic
April 2009 - Dananananaykroyd – Hey Everyone!
Sept 2009 - Bluejuice – Head Of The Hawk

2009 - Port O'Brien – Threadbare
2009 - Alberta Cross – Broken Side Of Time
2009 - Mumford & Sons – Sigh No More
Oct 2009 - Whitley – Go Forth, Find Mammoth
Feb 2010 - Shout Out Louds – Work
2010 - Last Dinosaurs – Back From The Dead (EP)
June 2010 - Ernest Ellis – Hunting
2010 - Delta Spirit – History From Below
2010 - Tokyo Police Club – Champ
Nov 2010 - The John Steel Singers – Tangalooma

2010 - Grouplove – Grouplove (EP)
2010 - Fitz And The Tantrums – Pickin Up The Pieces
2011 - Jebediah – Kosciuszko
Mar 2011 - Dropkick Murphys – Going Out In Style
2011 - Seeker Lover Keeper – Seeker Lover Keeper
2011 - Dananananaykroyd – There Is A Way
2011 - The Grates – Secret Rituals

Jul 2011 - The Living End – The Ending Is Just The Beginning Repeating
2011 - The Panics – Rain On The Humming Wire
2011 - Ben Lee – Deeper Into Dream
2011 - Bluejuice – Company

Second Decade: 2012-2022

Mar 2012 - Last Dinosaurs – In A Million Years
2012 - James Vincent McMorrow – Early In The Morning
2012 - Electric Guest – Mondo
2012 - The Hives – Lex Hives

2012 - Expatriate – Hyper / Hearts
2012 - Mumford & Sons – Babel
Oct 2012 - Sarah Blasko – I Awake
2012 - Art Of Sleeping – Like A Thief (EP)
2013 - Dropkick Murphys – Signed And Sealed In Blood
2013 - Bernard Fanning – Departures

Jul 2013 - Whitley – Even The Stars Are A Mess
2013 - London Grammar – If You Wait
2013 - The John Steel Singers – Everything's A Thread
2013 - Jae Laffer – When The Iron Glows Red
2013 - Gossling – Harvest Of Gold
2013 - Mikhael Paskalev – What's Life Without Losers
Jan 2014 - James Vincent McMorrow – Post Tropical

Aug 2014 - Kingswood – Microscopic Wars
2014 - Mosman Alder – Humdrum Star
2014 - Bluejuice – Retrospectable
Oct 2014 - Tkay Maidza – Switch Tape (EP)
2015 - Little May – For The Company
May 2015 - Mumford & Sons – Wilder Mind
Jul 2015 - Art Of Sleeping – Shake Shiver
2015 - Oh Wonder – Oh Wonder
2015 - Last Dinosaurs – Wellness
May 2016 - The Living End – Shift
Sept 2016 - Bernard Fanning – Civil Dusk
Sept 2016 - James Vincent McMorrow – We Move
Sept 2016 - Harts – Smoke Fire Hope Desire
2016 - The Panics – Hole In Your Pocket
Oct 2016 - Tkay Maidza – Tkay

2017 - Kingswood – After Hours, Close To Dawn
May 2017 - Bernard Fanning – Brutal Dawn
June 2017 - London Grammar – Truth Is A Beautiful Thing
Sept 2017 - Tired Lion – Dumb Days
Oct 2017 - Ecca Vandal – Ecca Vandal
2017 - Electric Guest – Plural
Feb 2018 - Alice Ivy – I'm Dreaming
Jul 2018 - Mallrat – In The Sky (EP)

Aug 2018 - Tkay Maidza – Last Year Was Weird Vol. 1 (EP)
Sept 2018 - Eves Karydas – Summerskin
Oct 2018 - Last Dinosaurs – Yumeno Garden
2018 - The Beths – Future Me Hates Me
Nov 2018 - Joyride – Sunrise Chaser
May 2019 - Little May – Blame My Body
Aug 2019 - WAAX – Big Grief
Sept 2019 - Sly Withers – Gravis (EP)
Sept 2019 - Tyne-James Organ – Persevere (EP)
Sept 2019 - Mallrat – Driving Music (EP)
Sept 2019 - Sam Fender - Hypersonic Missiles
Mar 2020 - Kingswood – Juveniles
Jul 2020 - The Beths – Jump Rope Gazers
Jul 2020 - Alice Ivy – Don't Sleep
Aug 2020 - Samia - The Baby

Oct 2020 - Jean Dawson - Pixel Bath
Nov 2020 - Tired Lion – Breakfast For Pathetics
Aug 2020 - Tkay Maidza – Last Year Was Weird Vol. 2 (EP)
April 2021 - Bob Evans - Tomorrowland
May 2021 - Tyne-James Organ – Necessary Evil
June 2021 - Sly Withers – Gardens
July 2021 - Tkay Maidza – Last Year Was Weird Vol. 3 (EP)
Oct 2021 - Sam Fender – Seventeen Going Under

Oct 2021 - Lunar Vacation - Inside Every Fig Is A Dead Wasp
Jan 2022 - Planet - Information Overload
Jan 2022 – Thomas Porter – Manic Pixie Dream Girl (EP)
May 2022 - Mallrat – Butterfly Blue
Aug 2022 - Noah Dillon – Kill The Dove
Aug 2022 - WAAX – At Least I'm Free