It was during his Popular Music Degree at Goldsmiths that Blake began producing and recording, self-releasing several EPs from his bedroom. His time at Goldsmiths also saw him promoting gigs alongside his friends.
Booking up-and-coming dubstep producers like Skream and Benga inspired Blake musically, and also gave him influential connections and a network of future collaborators. Shortly after graduation, he was named on the BBC’s Sound of 2011 poll and was a runner-up for a Critics’ Choice BRIT Award.
Speaking to the Telegraph, Blake said: “Being at university meant that I was in a house surrounded by people who eventually, through their personalities, became part of the music I was making. I had a three-year window to start something. By the time I’d graduated I was already getting industry recognition, which was a relief as it meant that the three years I had spent on all that stuff had come to fruition and I hadn’t been wasting my time.”
Both of his albums, James Blake (the artwork campaign for which was developed by fellow Goldsmiths grad Alex Brown) and Overgrown, have met with critical and public approval, with his debut appearing on several ‘Best Of’ lists and gaining a Mercury Prize nomination. Overgrown won the prize in 2013. Judges described it as “inventive, poetic and poignant”, adding “James Blake makes music like no-one else”.
He also won an Ivor Novello Award in 2014 for Best Contemporary Song, for his track Retrograde.