Lanterns on the Lake was formed in 2007, and the group is now composed of Hazel, Paul Gregory, Oliver Ketteringham, Bob Allan and Angela Chan. Drummer Oliver and guitarist Paul used to work in a call centre together and decided to start a band with a bass player joining them, and Hazel was keen to be involved. A few years later, when that band broke up, the trio formed Lanterns
On The Lake, and after a couple of line-up changes, Bob and Angela joined in 2014.
For more than a decade, Lanterns On The Lake have been sharing their EPs and highlyrated albums with the world, including their debut (Gracious Tide, Take Me Home) and 2015’s critically-acclaimed Beings – but it’s their most recent release which was recognised by the Mercury Prize.
The Hyundai Mercury Prize promotes the best of UK music each year through the celebration of its 12 Albums of the Year, from a variety of contemporary genres – it’s the musical equivalent of the Booker Prize for literature and the Turner Prize for art.
Each year the UK music industry enters around 220 albums to be in with a chance of winning, and those who are entered range from huge names in the industry (including rapper-songwriter Stormzy and pop singer Dua Lipa for 2020) to new and emerging musicians. The list is chosen by an independent panel of judges from the industry, including musicians, music journalists, presenters, producers and heads of music. All of the shortlisted artists, including Lanterns On The Lake, received an Album of the Year trophy.
Alongside Stormzy with his album Heavy Is The Head, and Dua Lipa’s Future Nostalgia, Lanterns On The Lake’s fourth album, Spook The Herd was given a worthy place on the list. Released in February this year, the album was recorded at Distant City Studios in Yorkshire and all the lyrics were written by Hazel. Over its nine tracks, she dives into the crises of our times and takes a microscopic view of a variety of issues we are facing – but her romantic style of writing is shot through with a glimmer of hope.
‘The album is a kind of time capsule of life from my own viewpoint. There’s a lot of themes that run through it to do with polarised politics, social media’s role in that and climate change. Not in a social commentary kind of way – more just how my own life fits into that context, I suppose. There’s also the more personal songs to do with grief. Sounds bleak doesn’t it?’ Hazel laughs. ‘It’s more hopeful than that. It’s ultimately an album about clinging to the good things in life, and trying to make sense of being alive at this moment in time.’ Previous winners of the Mercury Prize include rock-band Elbow, MC Skepta, alternative band Wolf Alice and rapper Dave, so of course Lanterns On The Lake were thrilled to receive the news that they had been recognised in this year’s line-up.
‘We feel hugely honoured and also quite giddy,’ Hazel says. ‘It’s just cool to have the album recognised in this way. The shortlist is a really good mix actually – there’s enough pop in there to annoy the music snobs, but then there’s also stuff that you’d expect in there this year like Laura Marling and Michael Kiwanuka. A lot of strong records are shortlisted and there’s a lot of women included which is great. It would be good to see more women of colour on the shortlist next year.’
Following the release of the album, the band have been keeping busy during lockdown working on new music. They have been asked by BT Sport to compose the music for their Champions League coverage. For the thousands of fans embracing watching crowd-free football from home, BT Sport recruited the band to create some dramatic music for the remainder of the UEFA Champions League matches, and chose Lanterns On The Lake to create an impact with their emotive style of music. But, while they’ve kept themselves busy, Hazel has really missed performing live for their fans.
Their tour dates for this year were cancelled before they were even announced, including some European dates. But on a positive note, they now have a rescheduled UK tour beginning in February next year with a gig at The Georgian Theatre, Stockton on the 28th, and at The Boiler Shop, Newcastle on 26th March – and Hazel can’t wait to see her fans in person again. ‘Playing in the North East is always a special kind of buzz because, being our home, it’s the show that’ll have our mates and family there, as well as all those people who were following us from the early days,’ she says.
Lantern On The Lake’s album Spook The Herd is available to purchase or stream at smarturl.it/lotl_spook-the-herd and tickets for their rescheduled tour can be purchased at lanternsonthelake.com/live
Find out more about The Hyundai Mercury Prize at mercuryprize.com