James Blake came out in front last night as the winner of this year’s Mercury Prize. The prize, awarded to one band or artist from the United Kingdom and Ireland for album of the year, was given to Blake for his album Overgrown.
“I feel jubilant, confused, wonderful…It feels a bit like those dreams you have when you’re punching through water, and eventually, if you’re lucky, that dream ends hitting it right on the nose. And what you thought wasn’t going to happen has happened. It’s very surreal,” Blake said in the post-ceremony press conference. “This is the first award I’ve ever won, apart from a tennis trophy I won when I was about 12 years old.”
Blake beat out a juggernaut list of other artists this year including: Arctic Monkeys (AM), David Bowie (The Next Day), Jake Bugg (Jake Bugg), Disclosure (Settle), Foals (Holy Fire), Jon Hopkins (Immunity), Laura Mauling (Once I Was An Eagle), Laura Mvula (Sing To The Moon), Rudimental (Home), Savages (Silence Yourself), and Villagers (Awayland). A notable name missing from this year’s list was My Bloody Valentine. The band was ineligible for consideration because their album mbv, the first one from the band in 22 years, wasn’t released through a major distribution company.
Arctic Monkeys, who won the award in 2006 for their debut album Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, said they were happy just to be nominated. “To be on this list anyway, feels like a massive compliment,” frontman Alex Turner told the Telegraph.
Blake was asked if winning the award would change him at all. “No. That’s a good question. But it’s a question that warrants a simple answer I think. The thing that got me here in the first place was not wanting to bend to outside pressures,” Blake said. James Blake’s Overgrown peaked at No. 8 on the U.K. charts this year.