ENTERTAINMENT

Who Is Sampha?: Get To Know The Mercury Prize Winning Star

We're going to be hearing a lot more from him.

15/09/2017 12:55 BST

Thanks to his Mercury prize win, Sampha Sisay’s name is one you’re going to be hearing a lot of. 

The South London-born musician triumphed at the annual event on Thursday (14 September), receiving the accolade for his February release ‘Process’.

And if he wasn’t on your radar already, then now is definitely the time to get to know Sampha a little better, so allow us to help with these nine facts in 90 seconds... 

1. He’s the youngest of five brothers

EMPICS Entertainment

Sampha’s siblings grew up in Sierra Leone, until his parents relocated the family to the UK in 1982, with the musician being born a few years later. His dad sadly died after a battle with cancer when he was just nine. Their mother, Binty, died in 2015 and speaking in mid-2016, he reflected on the loss, which is a key theme of the album.

“There’s not ‘the grieving process,’” he told The Fader. “It’s like a dream you never… It’s never gonna feel real.”

2. Sampha’s already worked with some seriously big names

His vocals appear on ‘Saint Pablo’, a late addition to Kanye West’s ‘The Life Of Pablo’ release, and he’s also worked with the likes of Solange (on ‘Don’t Touch My Hair’) and Drake (4422).

3. But his most frequent collaborator is SBTRKT 

Aaron Jerome and Sampha go back a long way, and the South Londoner often performs live with the DJ, playing two keyboards and singing.

Explaining his stage moniker, Aaron previously said: ″[I’d] rather not talk about myself as a person, and let the music speak for itself. The name SBTRKT is me taking myself away from that whole process.”

4. Sampha’s music career could have been very different

EMPICS Entertainment

While speaking to The Beat Juice, Sampha previously revealed that he once had a grime alter ego, Kid Nova.

“I used to try and give beats to people but I just didn’t leave enough room for anyone to rap over my beats, they were just so full of piano, and synths, so it wasn’t really a vehicle for lyricists,” he said.

5. He dropped out of university

Shirlaine Forrest via Getty Images

He was enrolled on a music production course at Chester University but decided to  leave when he was 19.

6. ‘Process’ debuted at number 7

A post shared by Sampha (@samphaaa) on

When it was released back in February, ‘Process’ charted at number 7 in the UK and was met with overwhelming positive reviews.

NME’s critique praised the record for having “a quiet, dignified impact that suits its maker” while The Guardian hit the nail on the head with their headline: “Process - the next Mercury Prize winner?”

7. Before ‘Process’, he recorded all of his own tracks in his bedroom 

While Sampha has joined plenty of other star’s in their own studios, he recorded all of his solo music in his own house, until deciding to make a full album.

He previously told The Beat Juice: I started writing [‘Process’] in summer of 2014, and it’s the first time I’ve really started renting out studios, and recording in studios as opposed to recording in my bedroom. The EP was mostly done from my bedroom.”

8. Sampha’s labelmates include The xx and FKA Twigs

Empics Entertainment

Young Turks is a subsidiary of XL Recordings who - until recently - also counted Adele as one of the artists on their books.

9. He made the BBC ‘Sound of....’ list back in 2014

Ollie Millington via Getty Images

Sampha was number four on their list, just behind BANKS, Ella Eyre and winner, Sam Smith.

‘Process’ is out now.