Ezra Collective’s Femi Koleoso: “I don’t have the feeling that this is the first jazz record that has been worthy of the winning.”

by Patria

Femi Koleoso spoke to Matt Wilkinson after Ezra Collective won the 2023 Mercury Prize. Femi talked about being congratulated by Ian Wright, Sadiq Khan and Jonathan Ross, about Ezra Collective being the first jazz act to win the Mercurys, about their debut album and about how they’re going to spend the prize money.

Femi on the fact that Ezra Collective are the first jazz act to win the Mercurys…

It’s crazy, man, but I don’t think it’s the first jazz record that deserves the prize. There’s this whole kind of symbolic jazz energy that the Mercury Prize has had before and hopefully we can just look at it like music is music, anything can win. You know what I’m saying?

Femi about Ian Wright…

I got a message from Ian Wright, man. He’s like my hero. He said congratulations. You know what I’m saying? It’s all crazy.

Femi on the celebration of winning the Mercurys

Yeah, it is funny that you say that. We organized this party because I just thought it would be a nice thing. We did so well, celebrate Ezra Collective and I’m sure someone else will win and we can turn up in that room and all our friends and family would be there and that would make it feel better that we didn’t win. That was the idea behind the party. I didn’t think it would be going in with a trophy, but I think my favorite moment of the night was probably when they actually read our name. I was sitting next to my mom and dad when it happened and mom burst into tears and dad, it was like we were watching the Gunners or something because he was just screaming and just had both hands out like he had won something. You know what I’m saying? It was a really special moment. I was sitting next to my brother and my mom and my dad and we were a family of four. It was just really special.

Femi about the Mercury prize money.

Everybody gets a little bit, but you know what’s the most exciting thing about this money, if I’m being totally honest? A lot of the restrictions we have on the tour are financial. We would love to take this person on the road, but we can’t afford it. We’d love to have this person come and take pictures, but we can’t afford the plane ticket. I’m sure 25 grand will help get some people on the road with us. Also, if I’m being totally honest, our heart is always with charities and stuff like that, so it would be nice to be able to give a little bit of help to some of these people that I’ve been yelling at, because everybody needs it. You know what I’m saying? It’s gonna be divided up like that.


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