Tuesday, 17 September 2013
Kevin Shields has accused the Mercury prize of "banning" My Bloody Valentine from consideration for the award. The band's frontman claims that mbv, their first album in 22 years, was left off the Mercury shortlist because the group bypassed corporate powers such as Apple, Amazon and record labels.
"Isn't Mercury a phone company or something, anyway? What's that got to do with music?" Shields said in an exclusive interview. "We're banned by them, and do you know why? Because we're not on Amazon or iTunes. That's one of the qualifying criteria. You have to have major distribution or be on iTunes or Amazon."
Shields may be correct. According to the terms and conditions on the Mercury website, qualifying albums will have "a digital and physical distribution deal in place in the UK". My Bloody Valentine, who self-released their album, only sold the digital version of mbv through their own website. This may not be considered a "digital distribution deal".
"We released our record, mbv, independently," Shields said. My Bloody Valentine didn't even rely on an indie label such as Domino or Alcopop! Records. "It's interesting to learn that to be as independent as we are is … virtually illegal," he said. "It's not a real record. Our album's not a real album because it's independent. The corporate-ness has got to such a point where we've essentially been told that we don't exist. So, technically, that album doesn't exist. OK? It's not allowed to exist according to the Mercury prize."
Shields also had harsh words for the industry magazine Music Week, which has "never mentioned" My Bloody Valentine since mbv's release. "Again, to them we don't exist. Ask anyone if they can find our name in that paper and they won't be able to. We stopped existing once we [self-released] this album."
Yet Shields said he has no regrets about the way the band released their third album. "I'd recommend it to anyone in our kind of position," he said. However, "just to see what happens", the group does plan to begin selling mbv through the iTunes music store.
David Bowie and Arctic Monkeys are bookies' frontrunners for the 2013 Barclaycard Mercury music prize. The shortlist, announced on Wednesday night, also includes Disclosure, Foals, Jake Bugg, James Blake, Jon Hopkins, Laura Marling, Laura Mvula, Rudimental, Savages and Villagers.
"God help" whoever wins, Shields said. Every act who has ever won the Mercury "suffered" in the aftermath. Even Primal Scream and "even M People". "Seriously," Shields advised, "there are sinister forces at work."
The winner of the award will be unveiled on 30 October.