Mercury barometer: the stars on what the award did for them


Talvin Singh ('Ok' - Winner 1999)

People got to know my music that had never heard it before, so that is a positive point, and the Mercury Prize can stretch your career in that way, but I've never really taken much advantage of that because I've been on a bit of sabbatical from recording for the past few years. When I won you couldn't get my records for four months because the record company had never thought of me winning so they didn't stock up. So, for record sales, that didn't really help.


Tip to win: Burial

Gruff Rhys of Super Furry Animals ('Rings Around The World' - Nominated 2001) AND Neon Neon ('Stainless Style' – Nominated 2008)
It took place on September 11, the day of the terrorist attacks, and our Sony record-label boss, Rob Stringer, who signed us, was on one of the last planes to leave JFK airport before the attack. Nobody knew if his plane was still up because it wasn't clear at the time what planes were OK. When he turned up at the awards ceremony, it was a celebration again.
Tip to win: I don't know

Olly Peacock of Gomez ('Bring It On' - Winner 1998)
We were only a year into becoming a band, plodding along, taking things very unseriously. We started with a tape that went into a record shop and within four months we had record labels interested and checking us out in Sheffield. We found it very amusing. We could only vaguely play our instruments. We were completely out of our league. The bands up for the award were The Verve, Massive Attack and Pulp. We were just there at the awards to drink champagne. It can be like a weight around your neck – we've made some killer music since then.
Tip to win: Neon Neon

Badly Drawn Boy ('The Hour of Bewilderbeast' – Winner in 2000)
It was my debut and people think it was this huge No1 album. But it went to No16 and, even with the Mercury, it didn't go higher than that. It just steadily sold over time. On the day I was hanging out with the Doves having a drink in the Grosvenor across from the venue and everyone I talked to was saying, "you've got a pretty good chance". It was still a shock when Jools Holland read out my name. I remember walking down the street the morning after I won the Mercury. One guy shouted out, "your harmonica playing was shit".
Tip to win: Radiohead

Tjinder Singh of Cornershop ('When I Was Born for the 7th Time' – Nominated 1998)
Being nominated did nothing for us. It was all decided before we even got there. The whole thing, the whole award thing, is made up. When there are people having meetings during the day of the awards deciding who's going to win that night it's never going to be real. So it can't be used as a judge of talent.
Tip to win: I wouldn't want to wish winning the Mercury prize on any of them

Tahita Bulmer of New Young Pony Club ('Fantastic Playroom' – Nominated 2007)
I think the prize is really meaningful for artists, because you get the sense that you are being voted for by your peers. It would have meant a lot to us to win, but it was still great to be there. I remember Jamie Reynolds of the Klaxons telling me record sales go up 20 per cent if you are nominated – but I was not really concerned with that. We were doing so much at the time and we had to cancel a tour of Australia to do the ceremony.
Tips to win: Neon Neon

Tom Dartnell of Young Knives ('Voices of Animals and Men' – Nominated 2007)
When there's a review of our stuff they say "Mercury-nominated band", which I guess is a sign that you're not messing around. It gave us a bit of exposure, and some people came to see us who wouldn't have come before, and we definitely sold more copies of the album. I think that, if you're nominated rather than winning, people tend to forget about you after a while, but it's hanging on for us and it still gets mentioned and it sounds good, doesn't it?
Tip to win: Elbow

Fyfe Dangerfield of Guillemots ('Through The Windowpane' – Nominated 2006)
We found it really surreal to be nominated but it is hard to know how much influence it had. We had got signed the summer before and there was a lot of hype about us anyway. It wasn't like record sales suddenly rocketed up. I think it helped Richard Hawley a lot more because he was more unknown by the general public. You can't take any award list too seriously because it is always about more than the music, even if it's subliminal.
Tip to win: Elbow

Ian Parton of The Go! Team ('Thunder, Lightning, Strike' – Nominated 2005)
I was chuffed – this was something I did in my folks' basement for a few hundred quid with rubbish mics, gear and some old records. That's what I was most pleased about, that we were alongside major label artists who had spent thousands. It's a nice leveller. My theory is it's better to be nominated than to win. Last year it was Klaxons, but Bat for Lashes came out the best.
Tip to win: Radiohead

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