Ezra Collective spoke to NME about the 2023 Mercury Prize and its impact on the jazz scene. Watch the full video interview above.
Ahead of picking up the prestigious award for their second album Where I’m Meant to Be, the band caught up with NME and revealed the inspiration behind the record, and their unconventional plans to celebrate it.
The quintet spoke to NME on the Mercury Prize red carpet yesterday (September 7), just before taking to the stage to perform their song ‘Victory Dance’ at London’s Eventim Apollo and being named album of the year winners , beating rivals from the likes of of Loyle Carner, Raye, Young Fathers, Arctic Monkeys, Lankum, Shygirl, Jockstrap and Jessie Ware.
Here, drummer Femi Koleoso explains what it means to Ezra Collective to represent the jazz community at the awards ceremony, and how the widespread support they’ve received for their latest album has surprised them members.
“It’s great to be a part of something so big and so special. We’re just a small part of something so big,” he began explaining how strange it is for him to hear his music in the mainstream media. “It was really exciting to hear him play in different places, you know? To see people enjoying it and dancing to it, you can ask.”
He also revealed to the NME how the band planned to celebrate their next win, admitting that the members have their sights set on their 24-hour donut shop if they take home the prize.
Check out the full interview below, or watch it in full above.
NME: Ezra Collective, welcome! How are you?
Femi Koleoso: “I’m fine, thank you. I’m happy. Very grateful to be here. Yes, grateful to be with all my friends.”
How do you feel about tonight? Nerves?
“We’re excited, grateful to be here. To be honest, there’s no nerves. That’s it. We go there, we have fun, we play, we enjoy everybody and we move on, you know? “
How does it feel to represent the jazz scene in 2023? Many people have found a new love in the genre thanks to your music.
“It’s great to be a part of something so big and special. It’s just a small part of such a big picture.
“The most special thing is that a lot of us have grown up together, so it feels good. It’s nice even to get text messages from some of my friends saying, ‘Good luck tonight.’ They are special moments.”
Was the response to the album different than you expected?
“It’s a good question, to be fair. It was really exciting to hear it in so many different ways and places, you know? Radio Six is usually like the jazz section of the radio, but it was nice to hear it on other places.stations: [BBC Radio] Extra Head, [Radio] One, etc., etc.”
“Man, it was a pleasure to see people enjoying it and dancing to it, that’s all you can ask for.”
You are a fan favorite tonight. There is a lot of talk here about people who loved the album. How does it feel to reach such a wide audience?
“It’s very nice of you to mention that, because I looked at the stakes and we were in the dumps. So it’s great to hear that people like what we do.”
“But honestly, from one person to a million people, if one person likes the vibes we were giving off, job done. Victory. That’s the vibe we approach these things.”
If there was one thing you wanted listeners to take away from “Where I’m Meant To Be,” what would it be?
“We wanted to be honest in every way. We were locked in: let’s not lie and say that everything is perfect. Let us be true, you know? But at the same time the core message of the a band is that there’s joy in your heart. somewhere, you just have to find it. We tried to express all of that in those songs.”
What would be the first thing you would do if you won tonight?
“I’d probably give the boys a big hug and then we’d go to work. I’d probably book an Uber to somebody’s house. I don’t know, man, we might even go to a 24-hour McDonald’s and watch it, You know?”
“I want to say McFlurry’s everywhere and then call it a day. I don’t know if you can really plan too hard.”
Nothing like a celebratory McFlurry, right?
“Hey, McDonald’s in the Boone Road Retail Park, it’s like a club! It’s got a lot of atmosphere, you could go there at 3 in the morning, you could get there at 4 in the morning… let’s go there. That’s what we’re going to do.
“We’re going to go there because there’s a 24-hour Krispy Kreme across the street. Legendary. The first in the country… So, yeah, we’ll probably go there and see what happens!”
I think you have some memories of that Krispy Kreme. You seem to know him well…
“Krispy Kreme is the Bedrock of North London! It’s the Bedrock… It’s on the A10, on the right, and it’s in the Retail Park opposite McDonald’s.
“Some of the best meetings of my life were there. I met soccer players there, people from school … and it’s like ‘Oh wow, now you have kids.’ So it all happens at that Krispy Kremes…and they do that thing where they turn on the red neon light and that means a free donut.
“Honestly, I don’t know why it’s not on the Heritage list, it’s a world attraction. Honestly, I’ve been to the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty… There’s nothing to envy the This is Krispy Kremes, I’ll tell you.” I promise you, man. I’m telling you. Make sure you go.”
Ezra Collective’s latest album, Where I’m Meant To Be, is out now.