Eccentric rocker and former Mint Chick Kody Nielson is the early frontrunner in the Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards.

In today's announcement of the finalists in the technical awards, Nielson has two nominations in the Best Producer category for his work on Bic Runga's Belle and his own project Opossom's debut, Electric Hawaii.

Fellow producer and self-described "jack of all trades" Nic Manders is the other finalist, for singer-songwriter Lydia Cole's debut album Me & Moon.

The technical awards also include Best Engineer and Best Album Cover.


Renowned engineer, mixer and producer Olly Harmer is a Best Engineer finalist once again for Victoria Girling-Butcher's Summit Drive. He won last year, alongside Thom Powers and Aaron Short of the Naked and Famous for the band's debut album, Passive Me Aggressive You.

Harmer is joined by Neil Baldock, another 2011 technical award finalist, who also worked on Cole's album, Steve Roberts for Kevin Field's Field of Vision, and Steve Garden on Te More by Whirimako Black and Richard Nunns.

In the Best Album Cover category, visual gurus Special Problems - double-finalists in Best Music Video category at last year's awards - pop up for their design for dance poppet Ruby Frost's Volition; Angela Keoghan is up for the beautifully illustrated Bannerman artwork Dearly Departed (she was also a finalist in 2011 for Bannerman's last album The Dusty Dream Hole); and Yvonne Todd rounds out the designer line-up for Haunted Love's Spirit Revival.

The winners of the technical awards will be announced at the VNZMA finalists announcement event, at The Cloud on Queens Wharf on October 3. The line-up for this year's Critics' Choice Showcase and the 2012 New Zealand Herald Legacy Award recipient will also be announced ahead of the main award ceremony at Vector Arena on November 1.