The Economist

Jyoti Mishra and his first single, “Your Woman”, from a record called “Abort, Retry, Fail?”, went straight into the British music charts at number one (only the fourth debut single ever to do so).

Mr Mishra’s story is one of persistence. Even the government can take a smidgen of the credit for his success. Unlike the well-established artists he deposed, he earned his chart hit the hard way after toiling for years in obscurity. Performing under the name of White Town, he launched his hit song without the help of a big record label. “Abort, Retry, Fail?”, named after the error message given by computers, was recorded in his home on second-hand equipment.Chrysalis, his current record company, signed him only after a British radio station had begun playing “Your Woman”.
Now 30, Mr Mishra has barelyworked since leaving school in 1982. A brief stint on the government’s Enterprise Allowance Scheme, a programme to help the unemployed which has since been phased out, helped him to set up his own record label, Satya Records, and to keep recording.
A music addict with an encyclopedic knowledge of musical trends since the 1920s, Mr Mishra does not plan to succumb to the glitter of the pop industry. He is already boycotting BBC TV’s “Top of the Pops”
because, among other things, its minions were unpleasant to a friend of his. “If success means that I have to turn into an insensitive megalomaniac, then I’d rather never be in the charts at all.” Geek idealism.

June 27, 2004. Reviews.