Young Fathers were christened in 2008, named so because all three have their fathers’ names.
The group consists of ‘G’ Hastings, from Drylaw, Edinburgh, Alloysious Massaquoi, originally from Liberia via Ghana, and Kayus Bankole, born in Edinburgh to Nigerian parents, but partially raised in Maryland in the USA, all 27 years old. Their live shows are complemented by Steven Morrison (drums & DJ) and occasional guest vocalist Lauren Holt (AKA LAWholt).
The group formed after meeting at an under-16s hiphop night at the Bongo Club in Edinburgh when they were all 14 years old. Almost immediately they started writing and recording together, initially on an old karaoke machine plugged into a cheap cassette recorder at G’s parents house.
After going through various guises over several years and after hooking up with a local production company, they eventually settled on the name Young Fathers and recorded their first album with Tim Brinkhurst (AKA London) as producer. The recordings included their first single, «Straight Back On It», which was given a limited release in 2009 and was received well enough to get them a couple of TV appearances, plays on BBC radio, some festival dates and the support slots with Simian Mobile Disco and Esser on UK tours.
In 2011 the group decided a radical change was necessary and they finally disconnected themselves from the local production company and took control of their destiny. Recording mini-album (or ‘mixtape’ as it was called) TAPE ONE in just over a week, finishing a track a day and having it available for download within two weeks of recording gave them renewed vigour. They quickly followed this up by recording TAPE TWO in a similar fashion. Los Angeles based alt-hiphop label, Anticon, discovered them and within a few months had signed them up for a short deal that saw both TAPEs officially released in 2013.
The group, meanwhile, continued to tour, gathering an impressive reputation as a fierce live act. They played all over Europe and made their US debut at SxSW in Austin, Texas, in March 2013.
In 2014, TAPE TWO won Scottish Album Of The Year (‘The SAY Award’) and this was followed by their latest album, Dead, released this time on Anticon in the USA and Big Dada in the UK and Europe, receiving the Mercury Award for best album of 2014. They won as the underdogs and there was a minor controversy because they didn’t look particularly joyful at the presentation and because they refused to speak to some of the more right wing press covering the event. Dead entered the UK charts at 35 and topped the independent UK album charts.
Immediately after winning the Mercury, Young Fathers travelled to Berlin where they continued making their new album in a freezing basement in a building near the railway yards. Returning to the more familiar (and warmer) basement studio in Edinburgh where most of their recordings were made, to finish the album, they ended 2014 by playing a home town show at Edinburgh’s Hogmanay New year’s Eve festival in front of several thousand people.
Young Fathers played over 140 shows during 2014. They toured the UK, large swathes of Europe and did a six week stint in the USA. The new year already has them booked to play even more.