Young Fathers on winning the SAY Award and why they stand for diversity

They have come a long way since meeting as teenagers at an Edinburgh club night for under-18s and first recording music in their bedrooms.

Alloysious Massaquoi, left, and Kayus Bankole collect the 2018 SAY Award at Paisley Town Hall
Alloysious Massaquoi, left, and Kayus Bankole collect the 2018 SAY Award at Paisley Town Hall

Young Fathers confirmed their status as one of the UK’s most critically-acclaimed bands late on Thursday evening when they were revealed as the winner of the 2018 Scottish Album of the Year (SAY) Award.

The Leith-based group collected a cheque for £20,000 at a ceremony held in Paisley Town Hall after their third studio LP, Cocoa Sugar, was selected as the winner by a panel of judges drawn from across the music industry.

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In the process they became the first act to claim the SAY Award twice - after previously winning in 2014 for their mixtape, Tape Two.

“It feels good to have made history by winning the award for a second time,” band member Alloysious Massaquoi told The Scotsman.

“It’s a positive for us, and a positive for Scotland - we stand for diversity, inclusion, openness, love and respect.”

Massaquoi, who emigrated to Scotland from Liberia aged four, had earlier said on stage that he was “black and Scottish - it works”.

He later explained his statement was a reminder that there are “other communities” in Scotland. He added: “I am a representation of that diversity.”

Massaquoi, along with bandmates Graham Hastings and Kayus Bankole, have long been outspoken proponents of Edinburgh’s live music scene, and have been critical of a perceived lack of support for venues in the city outside of August.

“Everything is great when the festival is on,” added Massaquoi. “There’s some really cool small venues. But when it ends, many of them shut down. It would be great if they could be open all year round and keep it exciting.

“At the heart of every culture is music and creativity. Hopefully, over time, it gets that way. But don’t leave it for just the festival - we want more than that.”

The band, who first met at the former Bongo Club in Holyrood Road, will spend much of the remainder of the year on tour, with shows planned in Singapore and the US before returning to the UK.

“Our UK winter tour finishes at Brixton Academy, which will be a great way to end the year - especially after winning this,” said Massaquoi.

Robert Kilpatrick, general manager of the Scottish Music Association, hailed Cocoa Sugar as a “world class record”.

“They continue to go from strength to strength, defying expectations and creating some of the best music to come out of Scotland,” he said.

Now in its seventh year, the SAY Award was established to raise the profile of the music industry north of the Border.