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About Benjamin Clementine
At Least For Now, the critically acclaimed debut album by 26 year-old singer/songwriter Benjamin Clementine, has won the Mercury Music Prize 2015 ‘Album of the Year’. The judging panel described Clementine as “a remarkable new pianist and singer – dramatic, intimate and pulsatingly original”.
Out now, At Least For Now has been described as a “remarkable, beyond-categorisation debut album - genuinely heart-wrenching” (Sunday Times), “a masterpiece” (Independent On Sunday) and Clementine “an extraordinary new musical talent. Incredible” (Evening Standard). The album has led to Clementine selling out five headline shows in London, including most recently David Bryne’s Meltdown Festival, and radio support from the likes of Julie Adenuga, Lauren Laverne, Zane Lowe and Huw Stephens. Overseas, Clementine has received “Best New Act” honours at Les Victoires de la Musique, the French equivalent of the Grammys, alongside sold-out shows across Europe and the US.
Clementine has packed a lot into his 26 years: heartbreak, homelessness, reinvention, before reaching cult status in Paris and returning home in unlikely circumstances to make his UK live debut on Later…With Jools Holland, since described by the BBC as “one of the greatest Jools moments of any era.” Raised in London’s Edmonton, his household was a strictly religious one, where children were barred from the living room unless it was a weekend dinner. When Benjamin started to teach himself the keyboard aged 11, he stumbled upon classical radio rather than contemporary pop; a sparse piano solo by Erik Satie in particular transformed the way he played. At 16 years old, in a rare moment of permitted TV watching, he caught New York avant-gardists Antony and the Johnsons performing the disarmingly naked ‘Hope There’s Someone’ on the BBC. “I was confused, scared…it was another world,” says Clementine. Further inspired by figures like Leonard Cohen and Jake Thackray - and with no emotional or employment ties to keep him in London - Benjamin absconded to Paris aged 20; sleeping rough, working in kitchens and busking out of economic necessity. This tale of two cities is enshrined in the album’s key themes and artwork: blue for France and red for the UK, with Clementine caught in his ‘box of stone’ (a lyric from breakout track ‘Cornerstone’).