Belfast Telegraph

Aphex Twin and Roisin Murphy make 2015 Mercury Prize shortlist

Two Irish acts have been named on the 2015 Mercury Prize shortlist.

Aphex Twin and Roisin Murphy were the first acts to make the shortlist of the British Awards this year, along with Wolf Alice.

Syro, the sixth studio album from Limerick-born electronic producer Richard James, who records under the name Aphex Twin was among the first inclusions which Lauren Laverne announced live on her BBC Radio 6 show, alongside and My Love Is Cool, the debut full-length record from London alt-rockers Wolf Alice.

Roisin Murphy, who grew up in Co Wicklow and was one half of Moloko, was the third name to be announced, with her third album Hairless Toys making the nominations.

"It just feels great, it's wonderful," Murphy told Laverne.

Scottish composer Christopher Duncan, who performs as C Duncan, was the fourth name announced with his debut album, Architect.

"It's absolutely amazing. I still can't believe it and I'm still pinching myself," he told Laverne.

"I've known for a couple of days and it's been very difficult not to tell anyone."

Duncan, who counts fellow Glaswegian artist Charles Rennie Mackintosh amongst his influences, is classically trained and recorded Architect by himself in his bedroom.

"Having to sing vocal after vocal and layer after layer was the most time-consuming bit," he added.

The fifth name to be announced by Laverne on her programme was Zimbabwean-born singer Eska (Eska Mtungwazi) with her eponymous debut.

She said: "I'm feeling a little bit ill - butterflies and things. You hope for (something like) this, but you can't expect these things. It's really overwhelming and a wonderful acknowledgement to receive this.

"The recording process was a baptism of fire. It was challenging and scary."

Florence + The Machine's third album, How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful, was the sixth album announced. It is Florence Welch's second nod on the Mercury Prize shortlist, following her 2009 debut, Lungs.

Former Mercury Prize jury member Ghostpoet - who previously received a nod for his 2011 debut, Peanut Butter Blues And Melancholy Jam - got his second nomination for his third album, Shedding Skin.

"It's weird hearing you say it. It's real now," the 32-year-old singer joked to Laverne, adding: "Two out of three isn't bad."

London-based singer and poet Benjamin Clementine was the eighth name to be announced, after scoring his first nomination on the list with his debut album, At Least For Now.

The 26-year-old said: "I didn't expect anything because this is my first album, but I've had really nice reviews from different journalists and people are listening to my music. I'm really surprised."

Former winner Jamie xx, who won the Mercury Prize in 2010 with The xx's self-titled debut, was the ninth name to be unveiled on the shortlist.

"It was such a big thing for The xx before when we got nominated, and it felt very surreal that first time," said the 26-year-old singer.

"It's wonderful to be nominated again. It was extremely stressful to win, the tension in the room - and I got to hide behind the others when they did the speech."

SOAK's debut album, Before We Forgot How To Dream, was the tenth act announced for the Mercury Prize list.

Bridie Monds-Watson, from Londonderry in Northern Ireland, told Laverne: "It's just crazy, I just did not see that coming. I started writing this album when I was 13 until I was 18, so it is a life thing."

The final two albums to make the list are Matador, the second solo album from former Supergrass frontman Gaz Coombes and Are You Satisfied?, the debut from Kent punk pair Slaves.

Coombes said: "It's insane. I am still in shock, it hasn't sunk in yet. I made this mad album last year in my basement. When Matador was finished, I knew it was a cool record but you never know how it's going to come across to people.

"I'm pretty overwhelmed. It's been such a mad year."

Laurie Vincent, one half of Slaves alongside bandmate Isaac Holman, told Laverne: "We didn't think we'd be in the Mercury Prize awards. That's like a dream. That's more than a dream that every musician wants to accomplish with their album, because it's solely about the music."

Laverne said this year's shortlist is "the perfect snapshot" of British music in 2015, adding: "It's the perfect snapshot of where music is right now and where it might be heading in the future."

Simon Frith, chair of judges, added: "This year's Mercury Prize shortlist includes seven debut albums and it celebrates artists from every stage of their careers. These musicians come from a fascinating variety of musical places, cultures and histories. What they have in common is the ambition and the craft, the ideas and the imagination to make great music!"

The Mercury Prize shortlist was narrowed down from more than 290 albums by a judging panel.

The awards ceremony, to be hosted by Laverne, will be held at the Radio Theatre at Broadcasting House in London on November 20.


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