James Blake Litherland (born 26 September 1988), known as James Blake, is an English electronic music producer and singer-songwriter from London. He has also released remixes under the moniker Harmonimix. His self-titled debut album was released in the United Kingdom in 2011 and nominated for the Mercury Music Prize for that year. His second studio album Overgrown won the Mercury Prize in 2013.
Blake received his first Grammy nomination at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards for Best New Artist. At the 2014 Brit Awards, Blake was nominated for the Brit Award for British Male Solo Artist.
Blake began his music career by releasing his debut 12" record, entitled "Air & Lack Thereof" in the United Kingdom during July 2009, while being persistent in recording songs in his bedroom. Having been released on the imprint record label, Hemlock, the extended-play became a favourite of BBC Radio 1 DJ Gilles Peterson. Soon after the release of the record Blake was invited by Peterson to do a special mix on his international show, including an exclusive Mount Kimbie track. During that time, Blake attended Goldsmiths, University of London, where he studied popular music. As his second year composition assignment, he submitted the soon-to-be-released Klavierwerke EP.
A third EP, entitled CMYK, was released through R&S Records during 2010. The title track, "CMYK" was selected by BBC Radio 1 DJ Nick Grimshaw as his Record of the Week and also received airplay from other DJs. On 29 September 2010, Zane Lowe selected Blake's cover version of "Limit to Your Love" as his "Hottest Record in the World". The song was written and originally recorded by Feist and appeared on her studio album, The Reminder. The single was released in the United Kingdom on 28 November 2010, where it debuted on the UK Singles Chart at number 47.
Blake was nominated for the BBC's Sound of 2011, an annual poll that highlights the forthcoming year's likely successful musicians; he was eventually placed second, ahead of fellow shortlisted acts; The Vaccines, Jamie Woon and Clare Maguire. It was also revealed on 15 December 2010 that Blake had been made the runner-up behind singer-songwriter Jessie J at the BRIT Awards' "Critic's Choice". In January 2011, Blake was awarded Single of the Year (2010) for "CMYK" at Gilles Peterson's Worldwide Awards. Blake's work found itself on numerous 2010 year-end best-of lists, with "CMYK" ranking 24th on Frontier Psychiatrist's top 40 songs of the year, the Bells Sketch/CMYK/Klavierwerke EPs ranking 8th on Pitchfork Media's top 50 albums of 2010, and "I Only Know (What I Know Now)" ranking 8th on Pitchfork's top 100 tracks of 2010.
Blake revealed in late December 2010 that his album would be self-titled, and the 11-track James Blake was released on 7 February 2011. Only days after the original announcement was made, the album was leaked onto the internet. On 9 January 2011, "The Wilhelm Scream" was trailed as the album's second single ("Limit To Your Love" was also included on the album). In February 2011, James Blake first appeared on the cover of the publication The Fader, in its 72nd issue.
Blake debuted a collaboration with Bon Iver called "Fall Creek Boys Choir" in August 2011 and during the next month, the BBC released an exclusive mix by Blake, which included 10 of his unreleased songs. These included "Deeds", "Olivia Kept", and "Evening Fell Hard for Us". During the final weeks of 2012, James Blake performed three "intimate" shows where he debuted new songs.
Later that year, Blake released both the Enough Thunder and Love What Happened Here EPs in 2011. These EPs, noticeably more structured than his previous releases, featured R&B-tinged work as opposed to the experimental electronic style found on CMYK. Some reviewers expressed doubt about Blake's stylistic movement, with Pitchfork's Larry Fitzmaurice saying that " reliance on piano-based singer/songwriter electro-soul perhaps played it a bit too safe, prompting comparisons to the once-outré, now-gear spinning career of fellow avant-crooner Jamie Lidell".
Early in 2012, Blake spent time with American rapper Kanye West (who named Blake as his favorite artist) and singer Justin Vernon. Later that year, Blake announced a new collaborative non-single release under the moniker Harmonimix with British rapper Trim; the single "Confidence Boost/Saying" was released on 24 September 2012. It was described as a return to form for Blake and featured the distinct characteristics present in his previous efforts (Though "Confidence Boost" has been floating around on the internet for three or four years).
Blake announced via Facebook on 7 February 2013 that his second album, Overgrown, would be released on 8 April. The first single from the album, "Retrograde", was debuted the same day on BBC Radio 1, and was released on 11 February. On 25 February, the track listing and album art were revealed. It was selected as Variance Magazine's Album of the Year as of December 2013. The album features guest appearances from noted electronic music producer Brian Eno and Wu-Tang Clan producer and rapper RZA, and further developed the song-based R&B work of his previous releases. The release received critical acclaim and was awarded the 2013 Mercury Prize. Blake noted to Hot Press that his relationship had been an influence on the album.
In December 2014, during his BBC Radio 1 Residency, Blake announced that his third studio album would be titled Radio Silence and would be released in the first half of 2015. He later confirmed that the album would feature Bon Iver and Kanye West, as well as feature guitar work from Connan Mockasin. While the release date has not yet been confirmed, it's expected to be released in 2016.
On February 11, 2016, Blake premiered a new song entitled "Modern Soul" during his BBC Radio 1 residency. James, later in the broadcast, stated he had "finished one song off the record ".
James Blake is the son of musician James Litherland, and showed a strong interest and aptitude in music from a young age. He completed primary education at Grange Park Primary School, Winchmore Hill and secondary education at The Latymer School, Edmonton. Later on, he attended Goldsmiths, University of London, where he got a degree in Popular Music.
In a 2013 interview with The Guardian, he revealed that he was in a relationship with Theresa Wayman, guitarist and vocalist of American indie rock group Warpaint, though the relationship has since ended.
On 19 July 2011, Blake was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize 2011 for his self-titled debut album; the award was won by PJ Harvey. However, in 2013, he was nominated again for Overgrown, and subsequently won the award, the result being announced on 30 October. The judges at the event described his album as "...late night music for the digital age. An inventive, poignant and poetic record of great beauty." He was also nominated for Best New Artist at the 2014 Grammy Awards.
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