World News – GB – Michael Kiwanuka on his Mercury Prize win: « It definitely encouraged me to keep dreaming big »


« It encouraged me not to just think in small steps, it encouraged me to think that maybe I can do whatever I dreamed of »

Michael Kiwanuka was crowned the 2020 Hyundai Mercury Prize winner tonight for his third studio album, ‘KIWANUKA In a five-star review, NME described the album as « the sound of an artist who thrives on a courageous and dizzying experiment « and » a daring leap of self-assertion « 

Soon after being announced as the winner of BBC1’s The One Show, NME reached out to Kiwanuka to ask what it feels like to win the award after three nominations, which he plans to do with the £ 25,000 in prize money and what it does to win the award for one of his most personal albums to date

Michael Kiwanuka: « Oh man, I’m so happy! Three times nominated in total, yes, but I’m really happy I won for this one I was happy the other times to be on the shortlist and of course i felt a little drained not to win the other times but i’m just particularly happy that it was this album: it was ultimately me who was growing inside me and just accepting myself and who i am

« Most artists go through the same thing – you sort of get to a point where you become more comfortable with who you are and this album for me describes that and represents that to me. cool that this one was received the way it did because obviously that means a lot to me – all my records do, but obviously this one is even closer to my heart « 

« Hope this is something people can hear and inspire. Hope it inspires people who maybe have a similar story to mine or people who in other ways may feel like they are stepping into something that may be outside of their comfort zone, or generally not the path they should be taking Hope this inspires them to go on and stay true to themselves, to go on but not to compromise This is something I really believe in and I hope this is something I can pull off of my music and in particular songs from this album « 

« Now, looking back, I can’t believe I was thinking about these things, but it was quite difficult just because I didn’t realize the magnitude of what it was to make records – to try to be an artist and get to achieve the things that I had ambitions to achieve I think I was a little shocked at the time, but to go to the other side and win a Mercury , I mean, it’s mind blowing, man! It makes it even more amazing, because it showed me [the importance] of continuing – not just with the music, with everything I realize you just have to dig the feet and continue « 

« I haven’t done it yet! » I gave my phone to my manager just before going to The One Show and haven’t had time to watch it yet because of all the interviews but everyone said it was buzzing and going crazy I can not wait to see it! It’s funny because obviously with COVID and social distancing it’s pretty quiet where we are because you can only have a few people in there so it’s almost like the party is on the internet. and I [want] to participate! « 

« Yes! I was told it was in three acts and I had to go down to London because I could win They told me I would do an interview with Jools Holland and later on The One Show the winner would be announced I walked in and Annie [Mac] was there I was like « Oh, she must have just done an interview or been interviewed » then suddenly she announced me as the winner I was like « What! » I fell in love with the story! It was amazing I’m glad I wasn’t informed it was really nice to have this surprise « 

« Definitely My favorite artists and everyone you mentioned are people I admire, always pushing their own limits This is something I think you should always do as an artist – not because that your heart is telling you to change your sound, but more because you want to be interested in what you are doing and feel like you are always at the start of something New

« I think the best art comes from being in a new environment, being somewhere where you are a bit lost and need to find your feet because that’s where you need to be creative But then I also found out that’s what people want to hear – they want to hear you on the edge and try new things and that’s where people connect with you and respond This win to me definitely encouraged me to keep dreaming big It encouraged me not to just think in small steps, it encouraged me to think that maybe I can do all the things I dreamed about, I just have to keep going « 

« I hope he will and I hope he continues to spread the message. I think this is something that it would be a privilege to be a part of, even a small part, of creating that awareness and hearing about those people that you don’t hear about in schools or anything like that [despite] being such great characters in the world, especially people like Fred Hampton and John Lewis who are all over the album I want to keep singing their praises and getting their names known because they are so important « 

« I still write songs and have ideas I don’t know if [what I did again] will necessarily be for another record I need to know what sound I’m going to go to But yes , definitely at the start of the lockdown I couldn’t stop writing I relaxed a bit after that and now I write a bit more now Like everyone else I have a small studio and a little setup at home and i just did demos this is what i did but i also calmed down and just enjoyed listening to records i kind of went back to the roots of it all i play my acoustic guitar and I see what comes out of it I don’t know what sound or direction the next album will go yet, but we’ll see! « 

« I know that! I really want to create a good studio and I think I’ll use some of that money to help make it; I want to find a good space where I can be creative at any time of the day or night and also I want it to be a space that can be used by others and the community too

« I think people forget how exciting and powerful playing music is, especially young people With the news about kids who don’t like school, if they can find music and a place to do it and play loud or just learn instruments i think they can gain a lot from it Music saved my life so would love to have a space where people could do it So I hope that ‘some of this money can be used to start something like this « 

© 2020 NME is a member of the media division of BandLab Technologies

Mercury Prize, Michael Kiwanuka

World News – UK – Michael Kiwanuka on his Mercury Prize win: « It definitely encouraged me to keep dreaming big »



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