Young Fathers provide the “heartbeat” to Danny Boyle’s new film T2: Trainspotting with their song God Only Knows
It was a match made in heaven. Or, to be more precise, Edinburgh. The city’s most ferociously bright band, Young Fathers, have contributed six songs to Danny Boyle’s new film T2: Trainspotting. The follow-up to the seminal 1996 movie Trainspotting, which depicted the harsh realities of working class life in Edinburgh, both movies are based on novels by acclaimed Scottish writer Irvine Welsh. Boyle became a fan of Young Fathers after their 2014 Mercury Award win for their album Dead. Meanwhile the band, made up of‘G’ Hastings, Alloysious Massaquoi and Kayus Bankole, met Welsh in 2015 for a documentary he was making about Edinburgh. All parties naturally gravitated toward each other to make this collaboration happen. T2’s lead song has since become the sombrely uplifting Only God Knows, for which Young Fathers enlisted the voices of the local Leith Congregational Choir because, they say, “there’s nothing like singing with your aunties.”
Boyle has this to say: “Trainspotting, the original book is like a modern Ulysses. It’s unsurpassed I think, and reading it is still like the ‘rush of ocean to the heart’. You're always looking for the heartbeat of a film. For Trainspotting it was Underworld's Born Slippy. For T2 it's Young Fathers. Their songs are my heartbeat for the film. And Only God Knows is that rush again. The ocean. The heart.”
Only God Knows joins the other songs Low, No Way, Dare Me, Get Up and Rain Or Shine heard on the film and its soundtrack, bringing their drum-crashing, boot stomping, beat-stuttering urgency to T2’s melancholic, high-inducing storytelling. The film sees the characters played by the original cast (Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner, Jonny Lee Miller and Robert Carlyle) reunite after 20 years but old habits – and grudges – die hard and they end up back where they started, in Edinburgh’s pubs, clubs and toilets.
Only God Knows featuring Leith Congregational Choir is released on 27 January on Big Dada
T2: Trainspotting is released in the UK on 27 January and 17 March in the US
Words by Helen Jennings