Mercury Prize finalists to be announced


The range of finalists for the UK's most prestigious music award, the Mercury Prize, highlights the strength and diversity of the country's thriving music industry, shortlisted artists said.

Twelve acts have been shortlisted for the accolade - including Florence + The Machine, Jamie xx and Roisin Murphy - which will be announced at London's BBC Brodcasting House in a matter of hours.

Host DJ Lauren Laverne said it was difficult to pick a winner, but the award represented an invaluable opportunity for any nominee.

She said: "For an up-and-coming artist, it's a chance to spotlight their work and bring it to new audiences, and for an established artists it's a chance to see them judged on their own creative merits, rather than other things like how many records they've sold that year."

Soak - 19-year-old Belfast born Bridie Monds-Watson - has been nominated for her debut album Before We Forgot How To Dream and described the red carpet experience as "surreal".

The singer songwriter began writing from the age of 13, but said she had learned from touring with musicians she admires since then.

She said: "Now I know how to write songs properly, whereas before I was kind of just like 'this sounds good'."

Monds-Watson added: "Just to be on the shortlist is nothing I ever saw coming at all."

Former Supergrass frontman Gaz Coombes - nominated for his album Matador - said the shortlist spoke volumes of the calibre of the UK's music industry.

He said: "I think it's varied, it's exciting, it's thriving."

Coombes added: "I think music is evolving in a really cool way. I think you can hear it on this list - it's really varied in terms of genre."

The shortlist was a "broad spectrum of greatness" according to Roisin Murphy, whose third record Hairless Toys caught the judges' attention eight years after her last album.

She said: "I was making records, I wasn't so far away from music ever. I never felt panicked that I was never going to make music again."

Judge Anna Calvi said even being nominated could be a huge boost for any musician.

She said: "It really helps an artist's sense that they've really achieved something and that their work is recognised, even if it's not necessarily the most commercially-successful album."

Calvi said the panel looked for a combination of factors when decision a winner, including a "sense of identity" in the artist.

She said: "It's an album that somehow recognises what's happening in 2015. You would be able to look back and say the record somehow sums up something about this year. A vision that you can perhaps see growing a career."

Florence's How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful will compete against established acts such as former nominee Ghostpoet's third offering Shedding Skin.

Nominated for his debut album Architect - made in his bedroom in Glasgow - is Scottish composer C Duncan, who will face down newcomers Wolf Alice with My Love Is Cool, punk duo Slaves and their album Are You Satisfied?, Zimbabwean-born folk singer Eska's eponymous offering and first-time nominee Benjamin Clementine's acclaimed album At Least For Now.

Aphex Twin's Syro rounds out the dozen nominees.

The winner will be announced around 10.30pm tonight.