James Blake Wins Mercury Music Award: So, Who The Heck Is He?
The London-based minimal electro artist James Balek was the outside bet for the Mercury Music Prize. .
James Blake took home the celebrated Mercury Music Prize last night (30 October) for his second album, Overgrown. Released to wide-spread critical acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic, Blake got his start as a bedroom producer finding success online before achieving modest mainstream attention and widespread acclaim for both of his albums - this years Overgrown and 2011's self-titled release - culminating in last night's win. But he is till a relative unknown to many, so who exactly is James Blake?
James Blake is the Winner of the Mercury Music Prize 2013
With the competition coming under considerable criticism for abandoning it's roots as an award for the underground and unknown, Blake's win shouldn't come as too much of a shock given the mainstream attention given to the majority of his competition.
As one of the few artists in the nominees list genuinely challenging the boundaries of music with his deconstructed, experimental brand of minimalist dubstep. The diminished exclusivity of the shortlist shouldn't take anything away from Blake's win, for it is a thoroughly deserved one, and more importantly the win should promote him further and prompt an increase in airtime for the young, progressive musician.
His album features contributions from Brian Eno and Wu Tang Clan's RZA, and Overgrown is the first release from Blake that has featured contribution from outsider influences. Under his moniker Harmonix and on some single releases, Blake has worked alongside other artists on remixes and collaborations, but his work with the greats Eno and RZA demonstrate Blake's desire to continue pushing boundaries and should he have walked away from last nights awards show empty handed, Blake is the kind of musician to continue doing his thing and not bow to label pressure.
With this newfound exposure, hopefully he will be able to further his ideals about progressive music to a wider spectrum.
The Goldsmiths, University of London graduate has a rich background in music and is classically trained as a musician, his life-time of training owing to his aptitude around a piano and a laptop. The Mercury Prize is Blake's first major award to date, but should his current trajectory remain on course, it will be in no way his last.