Loyle Carner says personal Mercury-nominated album is about forgiveness

Loyle Carner has said his Mercury-nominated album is about “forgiveness”, as he feels the internet and society can be too quick to judge people on one moment.

The hip-hop artist’s third studio album Hugo is one of the dozen records in the running for the prestigious award alongside albums by Arctic Monkeys, Raye and Fred Again..

Radio DJ and broadcaster Lauren Laverne will host the ceremony on Thursday at the Eventim Apollo in Hammersmith, London, which will feature live performances from 10 of the shortlisted artists.

Speaking on the red carpet of the 2023 awards ceremony, Carner, 28, told the PA news agency that it was “awesome” to create his highly personal record, which explores his identity and his reconciliation with his father as he became a parent himself, but he found it “scary” to present it.

He said: “I made it in lockdown when no-one was really around, so it was not in a vacuum but it was a safe space, the internet is not a safe space.

“Releasing it, I guess it was just through talking with friends and olders, big OGs of mine, much older than me who never really got a chance to talk about this stuff, and hearing it, and kind of going ‘you need to release this not just for me and my generation, but for younger ones’.”

He added: “This album is about forgiveness and just not to judge people.

“I feel like the internet and the world, it’s so quick to judge people off one action and I think really, more it’s about being able to understand that good people do bad things, and bad people do good things, and I like to judge people on their entire life as opposed to one moment.”

Carner, who wore a necklace and trousers which featured designs by his young son for the ceremony, said hopefully his son will stay up to watch the event from home alongside his brother and mother.

Also among the nominees is Raye with her debut album My 21st Century Blues.

Mercury Prize 2023 – London
Raye at the Mercury Prize 2023 awards show at the Eventim Apollo in London (Ian West/PA)

The pop star, 25, told PA it was “heavy” exploring personal emotions within the record.

She said: “I think when I was writing the songs I wasn’t even really necessarily thinking about even sharing them, it was more kind of medicine and just needing to create something to help me process certain emotions in a different light or a more positive or more empowering light if I could, which is what I think music is essentially about.

“Creating something that makes you feel better or feel great or excited or allows you to process them tricky emotions.”

The record features her number one single Escapism which went viral on TikTok earlier this year and won the award for best contemporary song at the Ivor Novello Awards.

She said the reaction to the song was “nuts” but that she was “so happy people connected to it”.

“I literally said to myself, if anyone hears any song off the album, I hope it’s this one, and that’s what happened and I’m so made up that it did because I love that song.

“I listened to it every single day before the album dropped so I’m just so happy people connected to it,” she said.

Mercury Prize 2023 – London
Olivia Dean is nominated for debut album Messy

The up-and-coming singer-songwriter Olivia Dean said she wanted to explore the nuances of life from happiness to falling in love within her debut album Messy.

“It’s funny, I had this thing in my head for a while where I was like ‘the best albums are breakup albums and I need to be miserable to be a great artist’,” told PA.

“But I was like ‘that’s not reality and also, I want to be happy’ and I think that you can still find nuance and interesting things to write about within that.

“So I think that was my task with this album to describe happiness and different upsets and falling in love, finding independence within that.”

Arctic Monkeys and Fred Again.. are both on tour in September and will not be attending the ceremony, but a live performance film will be shown to celebrate their albums.

Glastonbury Festival 2023
Arctic Monkeys performed at the Glastonbury Festival in 2023 (Yui Mok/PA)

After two decades of making music, the Arctic Monkeys announced their return in August 2022 with their Mercury Prize-nominated seventh studio album The Car.

All six of Arctic Monkeys’ previous studio albums have gone to number one in the UK while The Car peaked at number two, according to the Official UK Chart.

Meanwhile, Actual Life 3 (January 1 – September 9 2022) from Fred Again.. is also up for the Mercury Prize, which recognises the best British and Irish album of the year.

The British songwriter, producer and DJ, who made history in 2020 as the youngest musician to become producer of the year at the Brit Awards, had his first worldwide hit with the 2022 album, peaking at number four in the UK album chart.

Among the other acts in the running for the Mercury Prize is London-born singer Jessie Ware with her 2022 album That! Feels Good!, which peaked in the UK albums chart at number three.

Rapper J Hus also made the shortlist with his album Beautiful And Brutal Yard, alongside Where I’m Meant To Be by the Ezra Collective.

The debut from UK duo Jockstrap titled I Love You Jennifer B is also in the running for the prize, as well as Irish folk group Lankum’s album False Lankum, and Nymph from rapper and singer Shygirl.

The album, Hugo, from hip-hop artist Loyle Carner and Scottish band Young Fathers with Heavy Heavy also feature.

The shortlist was chosen by an independent judging panel including BBC DJs Jamz Supernova and MistaJam.