Scottish trio Young Fathers champion music taste variety after being pigeonholed

Mercury Prize-winning band Young Fathers have emphasised the importance of exposure to a “broad spectrum” of music after radio stations encouraged them to cater for “mums in the car while she’s driving to pick up her kids from school”.

The Scottish group, featuring Graham Hastings, Kayus Bankole and Alloysious Massaquoi, will perform for the second time at Coachella in Indio, California, on Saturday – after their debut performance in 2016.

Hastings and Bankole told the PA news agency that their Coachella set will be “spontaneous”, revealing they often debate the set list minutes before the show is set to begin.

Teenage Cancer Trust Gigs 2024 – London
Young Fathers on stage during the Teenage Cancer Trust show at the Royal Albert Hall, London (Ian West/PA)

“Most of our shows are surprises, not just this one,” Hastings told PA.

“We’ve tried to set up the stage kind of like how we would work in the studio, which is all based on spontaneity – things happen in the moment rather than traditional songwriting … if anybody wants to do something, do it.”

The group won the prestigious Mercury Prize in 2014 for their debut album Dead, and were nominated for a second time last year for their fourth studio album, Heavy, Heavy.

Bankole said he hopes for a change in the feeling that difference in music is accepted.

“I think when you’re not exposed to a whole bunch of stuff, you become fearful, and playing our music, when people hear our music and they don’t like it just because you don’t understand it, feeling that difference is OK,” he told PA.

“We’ve heard ridiculous things said before about wanting to make music to please mums in the car while she’s driving to pick up her kids from school. We’ve heard it from radio stations and stuff like that and you just think: that’s ridiculous.

“Everyone should have their own exposure to all types of music and make their own decisions.”

Hastings told PA: “It’s important for us not just as a band, but in general it feels like it’s important for people to hear a broad spectrum of stuff or see a broad spectrum of stuff culturally.

“We’re not one of those bands that people just get (and) understand straight away. And that’s fine.

“It’s allowed us to make music that we want to make and I think that’s all we ever want to do, is get in the studio and surprise each other and do the record with no interference from anyone.”

Hastings said his idea of success is “exactly what we’ve done”, which is being excited “every time you get in the studio”.

Ivor Novello Awards 2019 – London
Graham Hastings, Kayus Bankole and Alloysious Massaquoi from Young Fathers (Ian West/PA)

“My manager asked me today: ‘Are there any songs in the set that you are sick of playing?’ I (said) I don’t have any songs that I’m sick of playing.

“It’s kind of a testament to how much we kind of really love what we do.

“This last album we actually had the time to kind of take stock of how good it is to have a situation where you go in the studio and excite each other, argue a little disagreeably, but (ultimately) the thing that you’re making is more important, the idea of what the band is and what it represents.”

Hastings described the band as being a “slow burner”.

“It was never going to be an overnight success and I’m kind of thankful for that as well.

“Now it’s all right, although it has been a struggle in the past, it is still a struggle, but I think you take that thing on, it’s a slow process for people to come round.”

Talking about the rise of artificial intelligence in the industry, Bankole added that “ideas win”.

“That’s one thing you can’t take away, is the ability to think of ideas.”