Michael Kivanuka was crowned the winner of the Hyundai Mercury Prize 2020 for his third studio album ‘Kivanuka’ tonight. Five star review, N.M.E. He described the album as “an artist’s own voice through bold and seductive experimentation” and “a bold leap of self-assurance”.
Immediately after being announced as the winner of BBC1 The One Show, N.M.E. After three nominations he spoke to Kwanuka to ask him how he won the award, what he plans to do with the $ 25,000 prize money, and how he has won the award for one of his personal albums to date.
NME: Michael – Congratulations on winning! How to finally win after the previous three suggestions?
Michael Giannuca: “Oh man, I’m so happy! I have been nominated three times in total, yes, but I’m so glad I won this one. Other times I was happy to be on the short list, I had a little trouble not to beat the other times, but I’m so glad it was this album: It finally grew in me and accepted me and who I am.
“Most artists go the same way – you’re coming to a place where you can easily feel who you are, this album for me describes it, it reflects me. I’m so glad it’s got a way, because it means so much to me – all my recordings do, but obviously it does. It’s even closer to my heart. ”
Your album is a powerful statement to celebrate your identity and heritage in the face of adversity. Do you think this success will help motivate others?
“I believe it’s something that people can hear and impress. I hope it inspires people with a similar story, mine or other. I hope it inspires them to stay, to go on and to compromise, and I truly believe that this is something that can be gained from my music and especially from the songs on this album. ”
Between your first and second albums, you all thought of leaving the music together. How does it feel at the moment?
“Now, looking back, I could not believe I was thinking of those things, but it was so hard because I did not realize what creating records was – I had ambitions to try and achieve as an artist. At that time I was a little shocked that I think, but to come to the other side and then win a Mercury, i.e., this is the man who captivates the mind! It’s so amazing because it showed me [the importance] Keep going – not just with the music, but with everything. I feel like you have to dig into your feet and keep going. “
Were you able to see any incredible reaction to your success on social media?
“I have not yet! I gave my phone to my manager shortly before I left The A show I haven’t really had time to watch this in all the interviews, but everyone has been saying it’s buzzing and crazy. I can’t wait to see it! It’s fun because it’s really quiet with COVID and social distance, because you can only have a few people there, so the party is the same as it is on the internet [want] Join! ”
When Annie Mack surprised you with her success you thought you were on your way to talking to Jules Holland today
“Yes! It was said that there were three acts and that I had to go to London because I could win. They told me I would do an interview with Jules Holland. The One Show, The winner will be announced. I turned to Annie [Mac] Was. I thought ‘oh she should have done an interview or should have been interviewed’ and then suddenly she declared me the winner. What Am I!’ I fell free for the story! It was amazing. Glad I didn’t say that; I was so happy to have that surprise. ”
Your album drew comparisons to everyone from Curtis Mayfield and Bill Withers to Gil Scott-Heron and Fella Kutty. Has this success given you the confidence to try to push yourself into a son in the future?
“Of course. My favorite artists and all the people you mention are the people I look for, always pushing their own boundaries. I think you should always do it as an artist — because your heart tells you to change your voice, but you want to be interested in what you are doing, and you always want to feel like something is new in the beginning.
“I think the best art comes from being in a new environment, from where you’m got a little lost, and from having to find your feet, because you have to be creative. But I’m also found that this is what people want to hear – they want to hear you on the edge, that’s where people are trying new things. This success certainly encouraged me to make the dream bigger. It motivates me not to think only in small steps, it motivates me to think that I can do everything I dreamed of, I have to keep going. ”
Your album also comments on the civil rights movement – Do you think this success will help attract more attention in the light of the Black Lives Matter movement of the summer?
“I hope it happens, and I hope it continues to receive the news. I think it would be a privilege to create awareness and question about these people in schools or to have a small part of something like that. [despite] They have such big characters in the world, especially people like Fred Hampton and John Lewis who are all over the album. I want them to constantly sing praises and get their names out because they are so important. ”
Have you ever been given a lock to start working on a new album?
“I always write songs and have ideas. I do not know [what I’ve done yet] Will necessarily be for another record. I need to figure out which sound I’m going to go for. But yes, of course I could not stop writing at the beginning of the lock. After that I went out a little bit and now I write a little more. Like everyone else, I got a small home setup and studio, did demos. So I’ve been doing it, but I take it easy and enjoy listening to the recordings. I go back to the roots of everything and play my sound guitar and watch it come out. I don’t know what sound or direction the next album will go, but we’ll see! ”
Do you still have any plans for what you are going to do with the prize money?
“I know! I want to set up a good studio and I think I am going to use some of this money; I want to find a good place to be creative at any time of the day or night, and I want it to be a place that can be used by others and the community.
“I think people forget how exciting and powerful music is, especially young people. With the news that kids don’t enjoy school, I think they can get a lot out of it if they can find the music and the place to read it out loud or learn the instruments. Music saved my life. , So I want a place where people can do it, so I hope some of this money can go towards starting something like that. ”
Michael Giannuca will be on the road for next year’s UK tour dates.