Gary Flockhart: Prize guys not resting on laurels

STRIKE while the iron is hot goes the old saying. Or strike while your profile has gone completely through the roof, thanks to winning the most prestigious award in British music.

Mercury Music Prize winner Young Fathers. Pic: PA
Mercury Music Prize winner Young Fathers. Pic: PA

That’s the position Young Fathers find themselves in after they scooped the Mercury Music Prize recently and, no flies on this lot, they’re straight back down to business with new single Soon Come Soon – their first new material since taking the £20,000 prize.

“We have a job to do and that job is to keep on creating,” says Kayus Bankole of the group. “Ideas are flowing – we’ve recorded some on our phone and we have ideas in our notebooks.

“The possibilities are endless. We’ll never make the same album twice – that is sinful. We’ll burn. We take the moment as it is and no day is the same.”

Though I’m expect-ing the Mercury Prize to provide a springboard to greater success for the young Edinburgh band, winning it isn’t always a guarantee of going on to bigger and better things.

Indeed, since its 1992 inception, it’s gained a reputation as something of a poisoned chalice thanks to a series of artists who have disappeared off the planet after a Mercury Prize win.

In the early years, it would almost invariably elevate the careers of the winners – Primal Scream, Portishead, Pulp and M People all went on to become huge – but since Roni Size/Reprazent’s shock win in 1997, it’s often been, as Damon Albarn said when rejecting Gorillaz nomination in 2001, like “carrying a dead albatross round your neck for eternity”.

Talvin Singh (1999), Ms Dynamite (2002) and Speech Debelle (2009) would surely agree.

Not that Young Fathers seem at all perturbed.


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“We have our own sound, and it’s great to win the Mercury Prize, but it won’t change what we’re doing and who we are,” says vocalist Alloysious Massaquoi.

And good luck to them.