∆ (pronounced alt-J) is a British alternative indie pop quartet, formed in 2007. Formerly known as both Daljit Dhaliwal and Films, their current name is derived from the command used on a Mac keyboard to achieve the Greek letter Delta. ∆ formed when Gwil Sainsbury (guitarist/bassist), Joe Newman (guitar/vocals), Gus Unger-Hamilton (keyboards) and Thom Green (drums) met at Leeds University in 2007. In their second year of studies, Newman showed Sainsbury a handful of his 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.
They spent two years rehearsing before inking a deal with Infectious Records in 2011. Their eponymous first 4-song EP, “∆,” was recorded with producer Charlie Andrew in London and released by Loud and Quiet in October 2011.
Their first 2012 release for Infectious Records was the triangle shaped 7-inch “Matilda”/”Fitzpleasure,” followed by, “Breezeblocks,” in advance of their debut album, “An Awesome Wave,” released in May 2012. Their debut album intricately entangled multiple musical genres—folk verses, rock rattling bass, pop catchiness, hip-hop beats, trip-hop atmosphere, indie rock quirk, electronic heavy synth riffs—and interweaved it with heartbreakingly intimate lyrics, peppered with film and literary references including allusions to “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly,” Luc Besson's “Léon: The Professional” and Maurice Sendak's “Where the Wild Things Are.” The album reached #19 on the U.K. Albums chart and was awarded the 2012 Barclaycard Mercury Prize.