Page last updated at 14:41 GMT, Tuesday, 21 April 2009 15:41 UK

Unknown competes with music elite


Clip from The Leisure Society's Last of the Melting Snow

A little-known musician is competing with two of the UK's biggest bands for the country's top songwriting award.

Nicholas Hemming, who juggles music with a day job in a fabric warehouse, has been nominated for best song at the prestigious Ivor Novello Awards.

He wrote Last of the Melting Snow for his band The Leisure Society.

He said he thought the nomination was "some kind of wind up" at first. The song will go up against tracks by Elbow and The Last Shadow Puppets next month.

Coldplay and Duffy lead the nominations, up for three prizes each.

Both acts will go head-to-head for best album, best-selling British song and most performed track of 2008.

Coldplay's Chris Martin and Duffy
Coldplay and Duffy face each other in three of the categories

Elbow picked up a second nomination in the best contemporary song category for the track Grounds for Divorce, where it will compete with Dizzee Rascal's Dance Wiv Me and The Ting Tings' That's Not My Name.

Gabriella Cilmi's Sweet About Me will compete with Duffy's Mercy and Coldplay's Viva La Vida for the prize for most performed song, based on TV and radio play and other public airings.

And MIA's Paper Planes will go up against the same Duffy and Coldplay tracks for the best-selling song award, which goes to the British track that has sold the most copies around the world.

The Leisure Society are likely to get a major boost after Hemming was ranked among the UK's leading songwriters.

The group recorded, published and released the music themselves and are currently not signed to a record label.

The 35-year-old Hemming thinks could be an advantage, though, telling BBC News: "We've got total freedom to do what we want."

The Last Shadow Puppets - My Mistakes Were Made For You
Elbow - One Day Like This
The Leisure Society - The Last Of The Melting Snow

Hemming's boss at the fabric warehouse gave him a couple of hours off to attend the nominations ceremony at The Ivy Club in London on Tuesday, but he admitted he was hoping to quit the job.

"I'm leading this bizarre double life at the moment, it's very strange. I basically stick labels on it [the fabric] and ship it out the door," he said.

Hemming submitted the song for the Ivor Novellos after receiving an email suggesting it might be in with a chance.

"It hadn't even crossed my mind - so I sent it in literally a couple of days before the closing date and never thought about it again until a couple of weeks ago," he said.

"When I got the letter through the door, I thought it was some kind of wind up - in fact even my mum thought it was a hoax."

The Leisure Society have been championed by Elbow singer Guy Garvey, who said Last of the Melting Snow was his favourite song of 2008 and recently turned up to one of their gigs.

Nicolas Hemming describes how he wrote The Last of the Melting Snow

Asked how he felt about competing against Elbow and The Last Shadow Puppets, Hemming said: "It's really exciting because I've got a lot of respect for both of those artists as writers."

He said the song, about a relationship break-up, had connected with many who had heard it.

"As soon as we started playing this one at gigs, we'd get women coming up in tears afterwards," he said. "You know you've done something that's affecting people and people are taking it to their hearts."

In other categories, music from Quantum of Solace, The Escapist and There Will Be Blood are up for best original soundtrack.

Nominees for best television soundtrack include music from Fiona's Story, Trial and Retribution 2008 and Wallace and Gromit (A Matter of Loaf and Death).

The ceremony, on 21 May at London's Grosvenor House, will see eight other awards handed out, including a lifetime achievement prize.

Last year, Amy Winehouse won the best song award - but turned up too late to accept it.

The Ivors are judged and presented by the The British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors.

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