Founded by Lloyd Ross and Ivan Kadey, Shifty Records was a South African anti-apartheid record label which existed for over a decade beginning 1982. In 1986 Ivan Kadey left South Africa to pursue opportunities in Acoustic Architecture, specializing in top level recording studios, he became partner with the Waterland Design Group in Hollywood, CA, designing studios at Capitol Records, Virgin Tokyo, Sony/Epic Santa Monica, and many other world renowned recording venues. At this time Warrick Sony bought in as partner with the purchase of recording equipment.
Aimed at providing a platform for independent music with a social message, Shifty was an outlet for numerous South African musicians opposed to apartheid. As a result, Shifty struggled to gain exposure on the radio stations of the Broederbond-controlled South African Broadcasting Corporation. However, its anti-establishment stance was appealing to young and politically marginalized South Africans. This was evident when poet Mzwakhe Mbuli's unadvertised Change is Pain went gold after the apartheid regime banned possession and distribution of the album.
The label helped establish boerepunk and the alternative Afrikaans genre at a time when it was a reflex to stereotype all Afrikaners as supporters of the National Party. Operating from a caravan hitched to a Ford V6 truck, the Shifty studio would produce an album every two months until 1993.
Kontaktnätet, a Swedish non-governmental cultural organisation financially supported Shifty Records from 1986 - 1992 and held various manifestations in Sweden for the company and the various artists associated with Shifty.
Artists appearing on the label included:
- Koos Kombuis
- The Genuines
- Happy Ships
- James Phillips & The Cherry Faced Lurchers
- Bernoldus Niemand and Corporal Punishment, AKA James Phillips
- Jennifer Ferguson
- Johannes Kerkorrel
- Kalahari Surfers
- National Wake
- Noise Khanyile
- Simba Morri
- Vusi Mahlaselaservices
- Winstons Jive Mixup
Shifty Records often made use of the of a core group of musicians who appeared on different artists' recordings as support instrumentalists, e.g. drummer Ian Herman and trombonist Jannie 'Hanepoot' van Tonder who can both be heard on many albums from the Shify Catalogue.