Reflecting on Alt-J’s Mercury Prize win…

Wow. Just… wow. Its been 48hrs now since Alt-J won the Mercury Prize, and I still find myself stopping to think “God alive – WE WON!!”. So, permit me a few reflections because to be honest, this is something of a career highlight to date and when you hit those high points you inevitably wind up reflecting on how you got here.

In summer 2011 I was still working at PIAS, as the Head of Digital Marketing. I was getting pretty frustrated, and felt like the time was drawing near where I’d have to move on. I chatted with my then-boss, Clare, who was 100% supportive. So, in September I resigned and founded Motive Unknown. My first client was Infectious Music, and my first artist on their roster to work with was Alt-J.

I’ll make no bones about it: I love working with Infectious. In the year since we began working together, they’ve pushed me to be the best I possibly can. We’ve discussed things a lot. We’ve even argued a few times. However at all points, it was for absolutely the right reasons: because we are all so passionate about the music we work on.

Alt-J as a campaign has just been idyllic; the model by which all campaigns should surely run. The team is phenomenal – and let’s be clear: this is absolutely and completely a team effort. I do my part handling the online side, but that is just one piece of fairly large and complex puzzle taking in anything from stellar project management, killer A&R, production, press, online PR, plugging, TV, international, live… you name it. And, of course, an astonishingly good album. But we all feel very close to the band, and very invested in this record, because we all love it so much. So, I guess that’s why I find myself on a cloud of elation now.

I suppose there may yet be a campaign I work on where it has immense success but where, for one reason or another, it has been hard or plain horrid to work on, which would make any such awards rather bittersweet. However in this case, I’ve genuinely loved every second. The album is amazing. The band are great guys. The management are fantastic. So, with all that in mind I do find myself sitting here, reflecting on a very specific point back in that summer of 2011. I was sat in my office at PIAS, trying to make the big decision about whether to resign and move on, once and fror all. All I can remember thinking was “if you go out on your own, it could go either way. Is that something you’re prepared to do?”. Like many I’m someone with a mortgage, a family to support and more; all things that mean you can no longer be flippant about your income. With support from family, friends and colleagues, I took the plunge.

The events of the last few days by no means guarantee me and Motive Unknown a rosy future. Its not some kind of fast-track to success; anything can happen after all… However, it has been something of an affirmation and its one for which I am astonishingly grateful. Onward and upward!

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One thought on “Reflecting on Alt-J’s Mercury Prize win…

  1. Travis says:

    Nice one, D!

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