“It’s bigger than anything else”: Mercury Prize nominees on why they’re gunning for glory
The Mercury Prize nominations were revealed yesterday – with the likes of Dua Lipa, Stormzy and Charli XCX leading the acts vying for the prestigious £25,000 prize.
Offering an eclectic snapshot of the UK and Ireland’s musical landscape over the last 12 months, the nominees list also included Michael Kiwanuka’s searing self-titled third record (which is currently the favourite to scoop the prize come September), and Laura Marling’s ‘Song For Our Daughter, marking her fourth nomination.
But among the big names were a few plucky underdogs who are hoping to ride the wave all the way to Mercurys glory. Here, nominees Sports Team, Georgia, Porridge Radio and Lanterns On The Lake tell us what it really means to be nominated for the biggest prize in British music.
Georgia. Nominated album: ‘Seeking Thrills’
“Being shortlisted for The Mercury Prize feels surreal, strange, overwhelming
but also really exciting. It means so much to me as well, it’s just incredible that
they would even think to include me in the shortlist and I’m so glad it’s for this
“‘Seeking Thrills’ took me a long time to craft and I really wanted to make a
record that more people could listen to, from different walks of life. There’s
something for everyone and I think it really shows my love for dance music. It’s a
record about escapism.
“The Mercury Prize is fantastic at getting people to talk about music and the
shortlist is a reflection of the state of affairs with music right now. There’s so
many amazing artists releasing music and people have really needed music to
get through these hard times. I just had real fun with ‘Seeking Thrills’ and it
means the world that it’s up for the Mercury Prize. Hopefully it will introduce me
to new audiences as well.”
Alex Rice, Sports Team. Nominated album: ‘Deep Down Happy’
“We always hoped we’d get recognition for ‘Deep Down Happy’ but there’s a
difference between being popular and being critically acclaimed.
“We always knew we could put on a show and give people the best night of their life but to
get some critical recognition as well, that’s brilliant. It feels like the judges saw
the album for what it is, a picture of modern Britain but done with energy, humour
“Our ambition was to be the biggest band in the country. That puts people off but
I don’t care if people don’t like us. I think most people do. We wanted to be a
band that permeates culture. I’d rather win The Mercury Prize than anything
else. It’s just bigger than anything else. It does feel like recognition from people
just like us, who are obsessed with music, which is incredible.
“We’re only realising today how much of a springboard it is and how much
exposure The Mercury Prize does get you. A lot of things feel quite abstract in
Lockdown but The Mercury Prize resonates with people in an incredible way.
We’re getting messages from mates we haven’t heard from in years. It’s made
being in a band more real than anything else has for quite a while. We’re really
Hazel Wilde, Lanterns on the Lake. Nominated album: ‘Spook The Herd’
“We put ‘Spook The Herd’ out and then the pandemic happened. All our tours got
cancelled and it felt like this record was just going to get forgotten about, which
was gutting for us. We hope that the Mercury Prize will give it a new lease of life.
I wouldn’t class us as a new band but we’ll certainly be new to some people. It’s
just a really class opportunity for a band like us. Hopefully we’ll win over some
hearts and minds.
“The Mercury Prize is *the* award, isn’t it? It’s not about the hype, which label
you’re on and the marketing spend. It’s totally open. If you look at their shortlists
over the years, there are certainly some of my favourite albums on there.
“Everybody wants to be recognised amongst the greats, don’t they? It’s the year of
the girls as well. I certainly won’t be writing an acceptance speech but we’re
alongside some absolutely mint artists and I’m just excited to be considered with
them. Being shortlisted, I feel like we’ve already won.”
Dana Margolin, Porridge Radio. Nominated album: ‘Every Bad’
“It’s definitely a strange year to be breaking out as an artist. Even if it wasn’t
happening this year, we would still find being shortlisted for The Mercury Prize
weird. It’s nice to be validated like this though. It’s kind of us being accepted into
the music industry, which is new but it does feel like a step in the right direction.
“I really like that there is a prize that specifically looks to celebrate albums as a
whole piece of art. We really had a vision for ‘Every Bad’ and we were really
ambitious with what we were trying to make. For that work to be acknowledged,
it’s not something you really expect. It’s not why you make it either, so when you
get that response, it’s a nice surprise.
“For a band like us who really aren’t that mainstream in what we do, The
Mercury Prize makes our music much more accessible. We’re not even a fun
indie band, we’re a depressed indie band but it puts our music in the public eye
in a way that wouldn’t be possible otherwise. The main thing that we want is to
be able to continue making music. This puts us in a position where hopefully we
can do that.”
The Mercury Prize 2020 takes place on September 24.