Hip-hop. Dance. R’n’B. Pop. Rap. All of these? None of these?
When Young Fathers stepped up on stage to collect the 2014 Mercury Music Prize journalists everywhere scrambled to write about them, define their genre and get them to smile. When the Edinburgh trio accepted their award for album ‘Dead’ they were polite but brief. There were no whoops (from them anyway) and no gushing speeches despite beating the odds to win. This was for one overwhelming reason – they knew they completely deserved to be there.
Alloysious Massaquoi, Kayus Bankole and Graham Hastings first formed when they were still in school and have worked passionately since. From the start they have swerved the idea of a genre and produced music that they have felt to be right at the time.
Alloysious Massaquoi talks about winning the award and what’s next for Young Fathers.
First of all, you won the Mercury Music Prize! Although from what I’ve heard winning wasn’t really what it was about for you?
No. We would be lying if we said otherwise. It was about us performing on TV whether we won it or not. Being seen and heard by as many people is all we want.
Surely you must have been fairly excited though?
In what way? The prize? No. Performing yes! That was our main objective. We were utilising the space provided to give a good account of ourselves. We certainly did that.
It made me laugh that you didn’t crack a smile after, was that not difficult?
No it was easy (he says smiling). We didn’t even have to think about it. We weren’t overwhelmed by the occasion or happy to be there like cheeky chappy lads. The simple reason being we f***ing deserved to be there. I guess you’re going to p**s a lot of people off by staying true to you or the group’s aesthetic but so be it. We make the kind of music that has no rules and no limitations. What’s an award show?! We are the first of our kind. There is no one out there like us. Society has rules and regulations; pleasantries and social cues and if you don’t abide by them for whatever reason i.e “smile”, it’s deemed wrong.
Obviously Young Fathers have been around for years and you’ve done loads of interviews and award shows, now more than ever. Do you enjoy that side of it?
It’s part and parcel of the business. They need us and we need them to an extent. But it’s like any job sometimes you canny be a**ed, other times it’s fine and you enjoy it. All in all it’s a compromise that a creative person has to make.
Everyone is talking about ‘Dead’ and trying to put it into a genre. Do you have a favourite song and if so why?
No. My favourite song changes all the time. I prefer listening to albums as whole piece and albums that are cohesive. I think it’s the best way: I like to be taken on a journey.
You’ve performed all over the place now. Where was the best gig you’ve ever done?
It’s ongoing. There’s no such thing as a best gig. You can have great moments during sets but it changes all the time.
And finally, is it true you’re going to Berlin for the next album?
The main reason is to get out of our comfort zone. [It’s] a chance to feel awkward again, embrace and absorb new influences. We are a self-contained group. We write the songs, produce, make videos and do the art work. We have creative control. Going over there allows us to think differently. New roles are made within the group. We are able to open up a bit more and let other creative types in, something we haven’t done before.
Here’s a track from their album ‘Dead’
For track listings and tour dates visit http://www.young-fathers.com/
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