It was the bass player, often the most forgotten member of a rock band, who came up with the riff that sparked band Juliet's original song Work It Out.

Performing in front of a packed out Globe Theatre, in Palmerston North, Paraparaumu College band Juliet placed first in the Smokefreerockquest Manawatu Final last week.

The band consists of Declan Murphy, Romeo Ngaei-Tou Byers, Yazmeen Huth, Anna Speranskaia and Ella Bustin.

Making the finals of Smokefreerockquest, New Zealand's nationwide, live, original music event for youth, the band performed two original songs — Work It Out and Don't Make Me Change.

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Off Topic from left Charli Ravenwood, Faith Rankin, Annabelle Weise, Stella Murphy, Johnathan Warner and Leo Cameron. Photo / Shayla Rigg
Off Topic from left Charli Ravenwood, Faith Rankin, Annabelle Weise, Stella Murphy, Johnathan Warner and Leo Cameron. Photo / Shayla Rigg

Competing together last year, the band has now been together for a year and say they are tighter than before, writing songs together.

"Most of their songs come from just sitting in a room together," the band's tutor from House of Sound Elan Van Mills said.

During a jam session it was Juliet bass player Anna Speranskaia who played a riff that caught the attention of the others.

Playing it again, the band created a song around the riff with the melody and lyrics the last part to come together in the song writing process.

Describing their sound as 'post-pop' the band is hesitant to add a label to their sound, not wanting to be put in a box.

"We wanted a term that wasn't already existing," said singer Ella Bustin.

Keeley Black. Photo / Shayla Rigg.
Keeley Black. Photo / Shayla Rigg.

"No one wants to say they're a pop band, because the associations with it are quite negative and cheesy."

"They say 'post-pop' because they've got pop flavours but they go beyond it, delve into other realms," Elan said.

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"We just write catchy songs," Ella said.

"Tunes that you can nod along to."

Members of Paraparaumu College band Off Topic, consisting of Charli Ravenwood, Faith Rankin, Annabelle Weise, Stella Murphy, Johnathan Warner and Leo Cameron also took out a couple of awards.

Annabelle Weise won the APRA Lyric Writers' Award and Johnathan Warner won the Musicianship award for best instrumentalist (keyboard).

While hard to give the musicianship award to one person because of the differences between all the instruments, the song Off Topic played featured a number of breakdowns where everyone else dropped out, allowing Jonathan to come through on keys.

Competing at Rockquest for the first time, Annabelle wrote the lyrics and melody to the songs with the band working together to finish them off right up until their performance.

"For most of the people in the band it's their first time song writing," Elan said.

"They're getting more and more into it, throwing ideas out there, also learning about diplomacy and working together in a group."

"You spend more time on the last 10 per cent of the song than you do on the first 90 per cent.

"It's all the little details you're never finished until you have to be finished.

"Whether that's going into the studio or you have a gig, there's no choice for it to be presented in whatever state it's in."

Singer-songwriter Keeley Black was also came first in the solo/duo category, awarded at the heats.