The Neutron Prize 2019

I was very pleased when I found out that online music magazine God Is In The TV had created an alternative to the Mercury Prize a few years ago -The Neutron Prize- and that Kathryn Joseph had been nominated this year for her album From When I Wake The Want Is. Regular readers may know that I am a bit of a fan.

They announced a shortlist of 3 with a very short deadline for public votes so I retweeted a wee bit and put something on Facebook and mentioned it to the Twilight Sad fan-page on Facebook and Twitter. They are the best and friendliest of people and I think that they probably swung the public vote as there was maybe only 30 votes in it in the end. It was exciting for a while and well I am not sure that winning the public vote mattered too much – I think that the magazine would likely have voted for KJ anyway as the public vote was symbolic and they had retained control over who wins -to prevent someone like Kathryn McKathrynface winning.

I think the God is in the TV folk were smitten a while ago. They met her and saw her play. And that is really all it takes. Here is an interview with Kathryn from last year.
It is a long piece but towards the end there is a very honest passage which kind of sums up the financial situation faced by even award winning and highly respected performers.

“It doesn’t feel like you’ve got much time to matter now. But to me it’s like as soon as you feel like you are wanting to make money and you want to be successful, I think you’re fucked.” She points out the difficulties of being an artist in an environment where resources are shrinking. “What’s sad is it feels like there’s just not money support, I am like how does anyone do this? How does anyone actually survive, pay their bills and write music and play music? I am in a middle area of just enough money, and none of the stress of if you are making money then your life is a bit mental. I feel a lot that everyone that’s around you making your record exist is being paid a wage but you are not, you’re the last to get any money from it, how are you supposed to make it in the first place if you can’t afford to eat food? You can’t afford to get to your gig but you aren’t getting money from it. But it’s like a total addiction and it means you will put up with that kind of crap because you love doing it”

One song from When I Wake The Want Is was playlisted on BBC 6Music. On the C Playlist. Which is great really although I wonder if someone more mischievous at the Playlist Meeting might have swapped her with Nine Inch Nails just to see if it could spur on magical things to happen.

On a very positive note, the album was a 6Music Album of the Day, she had a session on 6Music on the Marc Riley show when Vic Galloway sat in and another live session with Steve Lamacq when she was at Meltdown Festival as a guest of Robert Smith. She had a session following her debut album’s SAY Award win in 2015 too. The single’s video has now had 32206 views which isn’t bad at all.

Winning the Neutron Prize is a fantastic thing and a just reward for hard work and I know there have been many pianos humped up and down the stairs over the years. (‘Humped’ is the verb for moving a piano. eg I humped the piano down the stairs, you humped the piano up the stairs, we humped etc -or have I made this up? There is definitely sweaty rhythmic moving, arguments about positioning and who goes on top, plenty of moaning and groaning and an argument about whether one or two extra people are needed)

These things build over time and as more folk realise how bloody great she is… Someone at the top of BBC Music may pluck up the courage to stick her on Later With Jools. She is one of a handful of Scottish acts that could do that KT Tunstall stratospheric rise thing from 2004. Or, even better, do you remember watching Killing in the Name live on The Word in 1993?

37890 views. And yes, I am comparing Kathryn Joseph to Rage Against The Machine, although folk that have seen her with their children sitting around her and the piano will know that she swears more and better than they do. Supremely powerful music in very different ways. You tell your friends about this kind of special stuff.

At the risk of this blog eating itself, here is a weird VoxBox Blog review of From When I Wake The Want Is written while playing the record on repeat and thinking about nature and the seasons last year.

In other news, I will be at Born to be Wide discussing all things vinyl on 3rd October at the Pleasance. Everything you need to know about the format, from getting records/vinyls (whatever your age) made to getting them selt -joined on a panel with some lovely folk, and hosted by my friend Olaf…

You know when you are asked to send a high-resolution profile pic at short notice and all you have is a bare kitchen bulb and a mobile phone and they all come out bad so you start mucking about then send the best one where you think you look fairly serious – you imagine you look like a (very cheap) version of Ian Rankin on the back cover of a book. Then, way after the deadline, you send a cheeky email with one or two of the kitchen photo out-takes just for fun?

Music isn’t a competition of course, except when it is and I do like the fact that music awards exist. Awards are only one part of the competition and only happen for the ceremonies and I think ceremony is important for us humans. The forgotten competition the rest of the time is between the record labels with established bands/brands, the money, power and influence who are getting the A list slots and the true Independent labels and artists getting the B and C slots. Maybe most of the indies are competing for just the C slots? The title of the Nine Inch Nails record is perhaps appropriate. God Break Down The Door.

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