Interview with Gwil Sainsbury of Alt-J


In light of their recent sold out performance at Mr. Smalls Theatre, bassist/guitarist Gwil Sainsbury, of the band Alt-J called into the station.  Cindy and Gwil chat about the unique name of the band, the band's sound, winning the British Mercury Prize and what doors that has opened for the band.

Alt-J is the keyboard shortcut for the delta symbol.  Originally named Films, Alt-J had to change their name due to the fact that there was already an American band with the same name.  Sainsbury comments on the situation and how it affected the band.  "At the beginning we got some blogs and indie press talking about it.  I think there was also some reaction against it.  It kind of worked both ways.  In the beginning I was a bit concerned but it seems to have worked out for the better."

Sainsbury talks about the band's critically acclaimed debut albut - An Awesome Wave - and its unique "layered" sound. "People tend to form their own relationships with music.  A lot of people get attached to lyrics and the movement of music.  When we were making the album we were quite aware that we would end up playing and listening to it quite a lot.  So I think we tried to a lot to put layers in there."

Alt-J recently won the prestigious British Mercury Prize, the annual music prize awarded for the best album from the United Kingdom and Ireland.  Past winners of the British Mercury Prize include Franz Ferdinand, The xx, and Arctic Monkeys.  Sainsbury comments on winning the award, "When we found out [we had won the British Mercury Prize] we were in Manhattan in a Starbucks we were really, really pleased.  The nomination I think is what it's all about.  The night they read our name it was personally surreal and all of it is kind of a big blur.  Now looking back on it, it's not something I really think about unless someone mentions it to me.  It's quite nice, I get a warm, fuzzy feeling when I remeber we did win it."  Sainsbury explains that the band had to jump right back on tour after winning the award, so the feeling of "winning" didn't really get to sink in.  However, winning the British Mercury Award has yielding a lot of commercial success for Alt-J.  Alt-J's music has been featured for the Nokia Lumia 928 commericaland in the movie Silver Linnings Playbook.  You can find Alt-J on tour this summer with Lord Huron and playing notable festivals across the globe such as Bonnaroo, Glastonbury, Lollpalooza, and The Reading Music Festival. 

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