∆ (pronounced Alt-j) was formed when Gwil Sainsbury (guitarist/bassist) , Joe Newman (guitar/vocals), Gus Unger-Hamilton (keyboards) and Thom Green (drums) met at Leeds, UK University in 2007. The band currently resides in Cambridge.
Gus studied English Literature; the other three Fine Art. In their second year of studies, Joe showed Gwil a handful of his own songs inspired by his guitar-playing dad and hallucinogens, and the pair began recording in their dorm rooms with Gwil acting as producer on Garageband.
First as Daljit Dhaliwal and then as FILMS, the four friends spent the next two years playing around town. According to the Breezeblocks Songfacts they were forced to rechristen themselves Alt-J, because of a case of mistaken identity with US band The Films. Their name is derived from the keyboard shortcut that creates the mathematical ∆ symbol on a Mac.
Their eponymous first 4-track demo ∆, was recorded with producer Charlie Andrew in London and showcased the tracks ‘Breezeblocks’, ‘Hand-Made’, ‘Matilda’ and ‘Tessellate’. A 7” containing ‘Bloodflood’ and ‘Tessellate’ was released by Loud and Quiet on October 2011.
Their first 2012 release for Infectious Records was the triangle shaped 7” ‘Matilda’/’Fitzpleasure’, followed by ‘Breezeblocks’ as an advance of their first album ‘An Awesome Wave’, released on 25 May 2012.