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The ceilings are low. Other than a handwritten sign taped above the mixing board that says "Try," the walls are blank. There's a violin that only has one string lying under the desk, and a bunch of pieces of a drum kit in a corner next to some keys. We're in the basement studio in Edinburgh, Scotland where Young Fathers made its Scottish Album of the Year Award-winning record Cocoa Sugar. At first glance, it's surprising that such a massive and expansive album came out of such a tiny space. But after spending some time with band members Kayus Bankole, Graham Hastings and Alloysious Massaquoi down in the basement, it's clear that creating a cyclone of expression in a compressed space is a vital part of their creative process. And so is the rare and stunning chemistry between the three of them.
Kayus, Graham and Alloysious met at a hip-hop night in Edinburgh when they were teenagers and bonded deeply, despite (or maybe because of) their very different backgrounds. Kayus was born in Edinburgh to Nigerian parents. Alloyious was born in Liberia and fled the Civil War as a child refugee, arriving in Scotland by way of Ghana. Graham was born in Scotland and raised by a white father who made sure he didn't adopt the racist attitudes that Graham saw around him. The members of Young Fathers discuss their unique bond, addressing systemic racism and the refugee crisis in their songs and how living in Scotland shapes their relationship to the idea of being "special." Listen in the player.
Young Fathers is currently in the U.S. on tour.
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