Young Fathers will use £20,000 windfall to avoid 'curse' of winning the Mercury prize

The hip hop trio remained solemn during the awards ceremony in spite of their success

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The Independent Culture

They looked like they had been given a group detention rather than a £20,000 windfall, Twitter complained, after Young Fathers won the Mercury Music Prize.

But the Scottish hip-hop trio, which had sold fewer than 2,500 copies of their debut Dead before it was crowned album of the year, said they will not change their single-minded approach after winning an award which has proved a “curse” for their predecessors.

The Edinburgh-based act were the surprise winners of the prize, costing bookmakers a hefty sum after Dead beat fancied contenders FKA Twigs and Kate Tempest to land the prestigious honour.

Their victory is expected to generate a modest sales increase - the band had added only an extra 561 sales since they were placed on the 12-strong shortlist.

Formed in 2008, Young Fathers have been described as a “psychedelic hip hop boy band” and appeared at numerous festivals.

Their album creates a wall of sound with heavy bass synths and pounding rhythms, topped by rap, soulful vocals and chanting.

The challenge for the band is to avoid the fate of Speech Debelle and Roni Size, previous Mercury winners from Britain’s urban music scene whose careers faded after a night in the spotlight.

At a press conference after their win, the taciturn Young Fathers had to be asked to smile by photographers. Alloysious Massaquoi - who is joined in the band by Kayus Bankole and G Hastings - said of their music: "We go out and do what we do.”

Despite the public reticence, the band has ambition. Massaquoi admitted that he “wants as many people as possible to know about us, as many ears as possible on us…We’ve made something new and original.”

Hastings said the victory “will not change anything” for his group, adding: “We try and stay in this childlike mentality and just absorb stuff. We try and create that same atmosphere.”

The £20,000 prize will be spent on a new tour van and a trip to Berlin to record the follow up to Dead. The greatest impact of the profile-raising win will be felt not in record sales but on the live circuit, allowing the band to play bigger venues and rise up festival bills.

Media training is not on their list of priorities. Lucy Jones blogged for NME: “I’ve never interviewed a more sullen, deadpan and genuinely nonchalant band at an awards ceremony. They look like they've just been given a group detention.”

But they were worthy winners. “Dead is a great record with one spectacular tune as its beating heart: ‘Get Up’. If anyone’s making exciting, forward-looking music in 2014, it’s Young Fathers.”

The Clash music website hailed a “tremendous album, and one that makes much clearer sense when partnered with the trio’s incredibly physical live presence.”

Where the likes of Damon Albarn could happily live without the cash prize, the financial boost provided by the win “will do them a world of good, inevitably facilitating the realisation of ambitions that they’d otherwise struggle to achieve.”

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