Alt-J (sometimes stylised ∆) was formed when Gwil Sainsbury (guitar, bass), 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.
Unger-Hamilton studied English Literature; the other three Fine Art. In their second year of studies, Newman showed Sainsbury a handful of his own songs inspired by his guitar-playing dad and hallucinogens, and the pair began recording in their dorm rooms with Sainsbury acting as producer on Garageband.
First as Daljit Dhaliwal and then as Films, the four friends spent the next two years playing around town.
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 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. That same year, they won the prestigious Barclaycard Mercury Prize for An Awesome Wave.
On January 2014, Sainsbury announced that he had left the band. The remaining trio of singer/guitarist Joe Newman, keyboardist Gus Unger-Hamilton, and drummer Thom Green continued undeterred and their sophomore record, This Is All Yours, was issued in the Autumn of 2014. Well-recieved critically, This Is All Yours debuted at number one in the U.K. and fared similarly well in Europe and the U.S. where they earned their first Grammy nomination.