One of the biggest nights in the Kiwi music calendar is just around the corner.
Not surprisingly, Lorde has garnered an impressive five nominations in the Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards. The teen from Auckland is widely tipped to sweep the floor at awards' venue Vector Arena on November 20, but there are a few other strong contenders who shouldn't be written off. After claiming the Tui for Best Pacific Music Album at the Vodafone Pacific Music Awards on May 8, Sol3 Mio is up for four additional Tuis at the VNZMAs, tying with Lorde to lead nominations.
Soul sister Ladi6 is up for Single of the Year, Best Female Artist, Best Urban Hip-Hop Album and Album of the Year for the critically acclaimed Automatic.
If you could win just one of these awards, which one would it be, and why?
I think Album of the Year would be the most prized award for us because we felt like we worked so hard putting Automatic together as a whole statement. But winning any award for work you've done is celebrated and appreciated equally in our camp.
There's always some debate around why such events exist and whether mainstream awards truly celebrate a nation's rich and diverse musical landscape. Where do you stand on this?
I think it's important but it's certainly not everything and it definitely dampens the spirit in which music is made, as any competition in art does, in my opinion. Music is for me a personal process and one done mostly in solitude. It's private, emotive and raw. It's also subjective and therefore, to me, it should always be treated with respect. All forms should be appreciated with an open ear and mind. I think everybody must think of the music awards as just a fun thing for our industry, and not something to be taken too seriously.
There has also been some discussion around the 'Best Urban/Hip-hop album' category. Some feel it's too broad, that they should be separate categories; do you have an opinion on that?
Yeah, I agree. I think it's so strange to call music "urban" and that within that category fits any music that has a hint of a black American sound. It is weird.
So would you add extra categories if you could and what would they be?
Probably. But I don't know what they'd be. I'd have to have a good think about that one.
You've won numerous awards over the years, including two VNZMAs for The Liberation Of ... Does the excitement of being nominated start to wear off after a while?
Absolutely not. Every time is as exciting and overwhelming as the first time you're nominated. We feel like we have a sound that isn't very commercial or radio-friendly all the time and, because of that, we never expect to be recognised at such a - as you described it - "mainstream event". It's exciting mostly because it's unexpected. I hope it doesn't ever feel expected; that will just show me that my ego is out of control. It's a special feeling of love and gratitude every time.
Do you remember the first Music Awards night you ever attended?
Absolutely, I was terrified. It was the year we won awards for The Liberation Of ... We performed as well and I was absolutely out of my mind with terror and totally f***ed up my first a capella vocal by starting in the wrong key. Plus I felt weird in what I wore most of the time and, to be honest, I didn't know what I was doing, and I hated it. I remember watching Brooke Fraser come in and swan down the red carpet posing with fans for selfies and signing s***, and I was mortified because I realised I didn't do any of that, or look half as glamorous.
What do you do with the awards that you have won?
My sister has most of them. One day when I buy a home and build our own studio, I'm sure we'll collect them up and put them on a very beautiful shelf that I'll be very proud of when I look at it.
A big part of the night is watching performances by fellow Kiwi artists - whether you're in the crowd or watching on TV. Is there one performance over the years that stands out above the rest?
The Naked and Famous took out several big awards the year we won awards for Liberation and I just remember watching them perform their song, feeling so proud of myself, my love, and our crew. I just remember I was swaying along to their song with my sister drinking champagne. It felt like my victory song.
Kiwi crowds are always well behaved but internationally and over the years, there has been the odd awkward moment at televised music award ceremonies - Kanye West taking the award from Taylor Swift at the VMAs springs to mind. Do you have a favourite "awkward awards" moment?
What comes straight to mind is when Suge Knight did his acceptance speech at the 1995 Source Magazine awards and dissed P Diddy.
What's your advice to others who may not have attended the VNZMAs before?
I am not a seasoned attendee - I've only been twice. But it's all about being yourself and having fun, don't pay attention to any rules. Just enjoy yourself.
Who will you most definitely be thanking in your acceptance speech, should you win?
First and foremost, I will be thanking my crew, here and overseas, that help Parks and I create, perform and keep this music alive. Also my family.
Are you the kind of person who will write a speech well in advance or will you just go with the flow?
I will be probably wing it on the night; say something stupid and wish that I had listened to Parks, and written something down. Dammit!
Sol3 Mio's Moses Mackay
Sol3 Mio is up for four awards - Album of the Year, Best Group, Breakthrough Artist of the Year and People's Choice - that's very impressive for the so-called new kids on the block. How does it feel?
I'm very proud of what we have done and our achievements. Being nominated and now a finalist for these awards is a stepping stone for NZ music I believe. We aren't exactly typical mainstream NZ and that's exciting.
Is there a particular category that means more to you than the others - put simply, if you could win just one of these awards, which one would it be, and why?
Album of the year would be cool. But I'd be happy with just one.
You've got some pretty stiff competition in all of these categories - who, in your opinion, are the artists/bands to beat and how do you rate your chances?
Lorde has achieved things no Kiwi musician has ever done and for that I'm sure she will be in the running. She is a talented young woman. However, the two of us are in completely different worlds so there is no competition.
You've been to the New Zealand Music Awards. Did it surpass your expectations in terms of it being a fun and great night?
I went last year with our management team Saiko Management to support Lorde. She performed and so did heaps of other artists. The show was great and the food was up there, too.
A big part of the night is watching performances by fellow Kiwi artists. Is there one VNZMA performance that stands out above the rest - what is it?
A few years ago now I remember watching Dave Dobbyn sing Welcome Home. Love that song.
Do you know yet if you'll be performing on the night? And if so, any thoughts on what you will do?
We are on stage, actually. It'll be awesome ... we'll do something to showcase our voices and our personalities. We're bringing our parents too so it'll be a first for them.
There's always debate around why such events exist and whether mainstream awards truly celebrate a nation's rich and diverse musical landscape. Is it important the VNZMAs exist?
I think celebrating our nation's rich and diverse musical landscape is important. However seeing the involvement of less mainstream artists such as us is encouraging for future artists.
You've sold a crazy number of records in New Zealand and performed to thousands of people. What have the highlights been?
Some of the highlights include performing to a sold-out Vector Arena, knowing that classical music is going up against mainstream music and that three Samoan boys daring to dream have what it takes to take their dreams to the stage.