Taite Prize: This year's nominees are ...

The eight finalists in the Taite Prize tell us about their nominated albums and who they think should win the award ahead of next week's announcement.
Princess Chelsea, Marlon Williams, Nadia Reid and the Phoenix Foundation, are among the New Zealand artists nominated for this year's Taite Prize.
Princess Chelsea, Marlon Williams, Nadia Reid and the Phoenix Foundation, are among the New Zealand artists nominated for this year's Taite Prize.

Unknown Mortal Orchestra (Ruban Nielson)

Unknown Mortal Orchestra.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra.

What do you like most about your album?

I like how much I got to collaborate with my brother Kody and my dad Chris Nielson. It took me back to how much work we did together on the Mint Chicks album Crazy? Yes! Dumb? No!

What was the most challenging aspect of creating it?

Vocals. Because I wanted the lyrics to be very dense and because a song is usually totally reliant on the vocal to drive it home, emotionally, technically, everything. Recording vocals alone can be a lot of pressure because you have to be producer, engineer and your own cheerleader. Which can drive you a bit nuts after a while.

I got to the point where I flew out to New York to record some of the vocals with Jake Portrait, who plays bass in my band and is a producer in his own right.

Who would you vote to win and why?

I'm going to vote for Silicon because I love my brother and his music a lot.

Click here to read more about Unknown Mortal Orchestra

Marlon Williams

Melbourne-based New Zealand musician Marlon Williams. Photo / Nick Reed
Melbourne-based New Zealand musician Marlon Williams. Photo / Nick Reed

What do you like most about your album?

I like how comfortably it sits astride different genres. It feels free and simple

What was the most challenging aspect of creating it?

The most difficult part for me is always knowing when to stop and let go. Knowing the value of space

Who would you vote to win and why?

I'm so enamoured with all of the albums nominated. If you push me i'll say Nadia Reid's Listen to Formation, Look for the Signs because it's so well-crafted and absolutely my cup of tea

Click here to read more about Marlon Williams

Princess Chelsea

Princess Chelsea.
Princess Chelsea.

What do you like most about your album?

I like the overall sound of it - it's quite fantastical sounding and that's a palette of sound I've been slowly developing over the past five years. Nerdy little things perhaps only I'd notice, like the sound of a certain arpeggiation or the moment a big soupy synth bass line enters.

What was the most challenging aspect of creating it?

I worked a lot on my own for a few years so when you're working alone for a long period of time it can be a challenge not to doubt yourself and see your ideas through.

Who would you vote to win and why?

I'm going to lie and say I definitely wouldn't vote for myself.

Click here to read more about Princess Chelsea

Nadia Reid

Nadia Reid.
Nadia Reid.

What do you like most about your album?

That it captures a moment in time.

What was the most challenging aspect of creating it?

Self-doubt. Trying to keep the end goal in sight through the intensive moments.

Who would you vote to win and why?

Every album on this list is kick-arse.

Click here to read more about Nadia Reid

Anthonie Tonnon

Anthonie Tonnon.
Anthonie Tonnon.

What do you like most about your album?

It's hard for me to have enough perspective on it. I was happy with how we developed sonically and aesthetically throughout the process. But I'm most grateful that people have picked up on the lyrics to songs like Water Underground, understand them without us explaining them, and feel strongly about them.

What was the most challenging aspect of creating it?

It's the first time we've made an album over a long period of time rather than in one short and intense period. I think that gave us the best chance of getting the songs recorded right, but when you do it like that it becomes like trying to build a tunnel - things get really murky and it's hard to get any perspective till you're at the other side.

Who would you vote to win and why?

I can't decide that, there's too much I like about all of those albums. But I can say I've listened to all of them in order, as albums, and I've been really stunned at the songs and how elegantly constructed they are.

Click here to read more about Anthonie Tonnon

Phoenix Foundation (Sam Scott)

New Zealand musical group The Phoenix Foundation.
New Zealand musical group The Phoenix Foundation.

What do you like most about your album?

That it was such a genuine collaboration between the six of us. I can hear the band vividly on every track.

What was the most challenging aspect of creating it?

It started with abstract rhythm concepts. So the hardest part, for me at least, was imagining songs forming out of that. In the end I think the songs are as catchy as ever, just less conventional at their core.

Who would you vote to win and why?

It's impossible to say. Every album is so great. Stuff it, I'd vote for myself. I'm getting long in the tooth. I want to win something before getting put out to pasture with Ray Columbus and TrueBliss.

Click here to read more about Phoenix Foundation

SJD

Auckland musician Sean James Donnelly, better known as SJD.
Auckland musician Sean James Donnelly, better known as SJD.

What do you like most about your album?

That I finally got to make one that was full of actual "songs", as opposed to the ditties or the weird hybrids I usually make. I love that it was played by a real band and it's full of great performances, vocally and instrumentally ...

What was the most challenging aspect of creating it?

That I had to maintain my focus and belief in the project despite the fact that some songs were up to five years old. Then waiting six months to release it once I'd finished was also a killer. It helped that I had great contributors who were able do great things with their parts, to cheer me on when they weren't playing and gave their strongly held opinions at any given moment.

Who would you vote to win and why?

Without wishing to be a cop-out, I'd have to say that they're all winners in my book.

Click here to read more about SJD

Silicon (Kody Nielson)

Kody Nielson aka Silicon.
Kody Nielson aka Silicon.

What do you like most about your album?

I like the simplicity.

What was the most challenging aspect of creating it?

Probably the artwork.

Who would you vote to win and why?

Maybe UMO or Phoenix Foundation.

Click here to read more about Silicon

- TimeOut

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