Aldous Harding (Hannah Harding/Topp) has won the 2019 APRA Silver Scroll Award with her unsettling but incredibly beautiful earworm of a song, The Barrel, the first single from her third album ‘Designer’.
“I’ll put the money towards making the same happy mistake again,” she drily joked in her acceptance speech, recorded on video while on tour through the US along with fellow finalist Hollie Fullbrook of Tiny Ruins.
The past three years have been busy for Harding. After signing to American record label 4AD in 2017, she moved to Wales, released her second album ‘Party’, which won the 2018 Taite Music Prize, followed by ‘Designer’, both of which were made in collaboration with producer John Parish (known for his work with PJ Harvey and Sparklehorse). She’s also kept up a relentless touring schedule, captivating audiences at hundreds of shows across Aotearoa, Europe, the US and Australia.
Tyna Keelan, Angelique Te Rauna and Matauranga Te Rauna were presented with the APRA Maioha Award which recognises exceptional waiata featuring te reo Māori. The trio was celebrated for their ballad Ka Ao, a song about finding self-confidence and following dreams. Keelan (Ngati Porou, Ngati Rongomaiwahine, and Ngati Kahu) previously took home the Maioha Award in 2011 for his work Ko Koe.
The award was presented by Kiwi roots and Te Reo music champion Ria Hall who gave a stirring speech calling out gender inequality in the music industry. “Gender imbalance across sectors and industries is something that is glaringly obvious,” she said to evident support. “We hui about trying to rectify these situations, yet the status quo remains, time after time.” Hall also noted upon the lack of Māori music play on NZ airways, ending with the message, “Be bold, be brave, kia māia.”
Wellington composer Michael Norris won the SOUNZ Contemporary Award for the third time (previously winning in 2014 for Inner Phases, and 2018 for Sygyt), with his composition Sama Violin Concerto, written for violinist Amalia Hall. Norris wanted to give Hall scope to show off her talent, as he explored spiralling musical processes inspired by the meditation practice of whirling Sufi during Sama-zan.
Karl Steven (Supergroove, Drab Doo Riffs) won his second APRA Best Original Music in a Series Award for his dark and bold score for local series The Bad Seed, a twisted drama of politics and power based on the books of Charlotte Grimshaw.
First-time finalist Mike Newport won the APRA Best Original Music in a Feature Film Award for his composition for time-travelling heist film Mega Time Squad – a romping, fun-fuelled, ’80s-inspired piece, set in Thames, a place renowned for action.
Rounding off the evening was the induction of Ruru Karaitiana, Pixie Williams, and Jim Carter into the NZ Music Hall of Fame. The trio created Aotearoa’s first-ever true pop song Blue Smoke in 1949, and there was a beautiful tribute performance of the sweet bi-lingual war ballad by a large ensemble made up of Lisa Tomlins, Kirsten Te Rito, Riki Gooch, Jacqui Nyman, Mark Sommerville, James Illingworth, Nick Atkinson, Matthew Verrill, Luca Manghi, and the Black Quartet.