Silver Scroll Awards 2012

This year’s entries for the Silver Scroll Awards were a bit of a surprise. Usually the awards are dominated with popular, well-known artists, along with one or two indie acts that manage to raise their hand high enough. But that trend was overturned by this year’s entries. The only one of these to be (over-)played on commercial radio was Annah Mac with ‘Girl In Stilettos’ and this was a song that helped her into becoming a household name (even if ‘Celia’ had laid a bit of groundwork beforehand). Opossom most likely gained its position amongst the nominees for the sheer freshness of its musical approach (who turns drums up that loud in the mix?), while LIPS took almost the opposite route to success, with a backing track that is so subtle and well-placed that you’d almost miss its slickness.

Elsewhere on the list, we find two acts – Lydia Cole and The Eastern – who have taken their place through more classic songwriting. Though, given that the finalists are voted in by APRA members, it might’ve helped that Cole has a good following in the Christian Music scene and The Eastern have the heart-warming backstory of coming from Lyttleton. Did you know that they single-handedly stopped the Wunderbar from sliding off the cliff into the sea during the earthquakes by making a net of their beard hair, banjo strings, and lengths of tattoo that they’d peeled off their skin? … I like to think so, anyway…

We turned up to the event early and stood around while the finalists posed for pics. Last year, we didn’t arrive much before the musicians started having dinner and there was nothing left for us to do but drink and complain about being how they weren’t feeding us. This year, we turned up a bit earlier and realised there was actually heaps of finger food that we could’ve filled up on if we hadn’t been so late. This first part of the evening is also a helpful time for the local music fraternity to check who is still around and how they’re looking these days. Graham Brazier is still alive and drinking? Check. Andrew Fagan is still insane? Check. Chris Knox still has that sardonic gleam in his eye? Check. Proof of Knox’s enduring coolness post-stroke is that I went over to say hello and was shouldered out of the way by Don McGlashan. Nobody fucks with the Don.

They rung the bell for everyone to go inside. Nobody left. They rang it again. Nobody left. Finally, they closed the bar and the musicians slowly filed inside. We in the media had to head upstairs to the balcony. Though I noticed that Richard from NZ Musician had a seat at a table downstairs and went up to him – what gives? He explained that when this blog has being going for twenty-five years like his magazine then maybe we might get a real seat. Yeah, yeah, we get it…

One of the finalists was Young Sid, who’d performed with Ahorangi Winitana on a beat done by Josh Fountain (Kidz In Space). I was introduced to Sid beforehand (actually I’ve met him twice before, but I realise white people all look the same) and asked him why ‘Brother’ by Smashproof never managed a nomination for the Silver Scrolls. It turns out that this is because the beat was made by a French producer (FBI) so it wasn’t eligible. He’s gotta be one of NZ’s top five rappers, so he deserves a songwriting award, but this wasn’t gonna be his year either. The award went to Awa – Te Awanui Reeder from Nesian Mystik, along with the band’s musical kingpin, David Atai and Scotty Morrison. This is the second Silver Scroll nod for Reeder and Atai (Nesian won in 2003), but they’ll have to get one more if they want to be Dave Dobbyn’s record (he’s won three of them).

One of the main focuses of the night was the induction of Herbs into the Hall of Fame. Che Fu gave the speech of the night, explaining how there were only two reggae bands from NZ during the seventies – one was his dad’s band (Unity Pacific) and the other was his uncle’s band (Herbs). But he could never understand why his dad always had to go around to his uncle’s house to drop off packages and why he had to play outside with the other kids while clouds of smoke came billowing out of the windows. It was hard not to be feel chills down the spine when Herbs hit the stage to receive their award. Instead of each of the fifteen members trying to give an acceptance speech, one of them talked briefly and then the whole gang sung a waiata instead. Here’s a bit of Kora covering Herbs’ track, ‘Rust In Dust’…

Most played local song on the NZ airwaves was ‘Love, Love, Love’ (last year’s winner of the Scroll) and David Baxter was pleasantly surprised (if a little lost for words). Once again, they didn’t bother announcing that ‘Don’t Dream It’s Over’ had been most played local song overseas (I guess Kimbra’s track with Gotye doesn’t count and Naked and Famous still need a nice placement in a movie before they can make the leap to that level of play). The SOUNZ contemporary award was also given out to composer, Alex Taylor (for ‘[inner]’), which was turned into an ethereal freak-out by Rhian Sheehan. Jon Toogood was in charge of the music for the evening, so he brought up a few of his fellow Wellingtonians for the event. The Nudge did a rootsy version of LIPS’s track, ‘Everything To Me’, then Beastwars turned The Eastern’s ‘State Houses By The River’ into sludge metal…

L.A. Mitchell did a nice, bluesy version of ‘Hibernate’ (with Ben Eldridge from Reduction Agents on guitar) and then Julia Deans sang ‘Getaway Tonight’ with The Claire Cowen Quarter string quartet, which was interesting, but not a complete success. The Wyld’s version of ‘Girl In Stilettos’ also sounded a little off-kilter, though you still got the sense that their approach to pop would take them a long way…

The winner of the Silver Scroll was LIPS a.k.a. Stephanie Brown, who got up and gave a delightfully uncomfortable speech – giving respect to “The Herbs” and apologising to her mum and dad, who had to hear all her early, terrible songs. It felt like she was grateful that people back in New Zealand actually respected the work she was doing over in New York, though some credit should also go to Jeremy Toy (She’s So Rad), who co-produced and mixed her album. Subtlety wins the day for a change. All the videos from the night were filmed by the Herald (who live-streamed the event), so they should be put up by them or APRA soon (will let you know in the comments below when we hear about it).

The evening ended with Dave Dobbyn getting up to sing ‘Slice of Heaven’. The singer from Herbs had said earlier that the song had provided a boost for the group, as well as Dobbyn – “after causing a riot, you have to come up with a top song.” However, it did seem a weird way to celebrate Herbs’ achievement. Surely they could’ve got an all-star band to cover an actual Herbs song instead? Ah well, can’t have everything, though let’s not make the same mistake and instead we’ll close up with this little number…


  1. Yep we should have most of them up by the end of today.. it will take a bit longer for the Beastwars performance because the power went just as they started so we’ll have to get Satellite Media’s version (incidentally it was Satellite Media who kindly let us take their in-house camera feed for the stream.. credit where credit’s due etc)..



    • Enjoyed the coverage Hugh, great job!

    • Thanks Adam, can i ask you a nerdy question? What sort of connection did you watch it on and were they any technical failings of note? In fact if anyone else wants to drop my a line with any technical feedback that will help for next time.. hugh.sundae at nzherald dot co dot etc

  2. Peter McLennan says:

    Nice writeup. I found out later that Dobbyn covered Tami Nielson’s cover of his own song. Crazy ol Yoda.

  3. Gareth Shute says:

    Looks like the Herald has started putting up full-length videos of each of the songs:

    And, at the risk of back-patting all around, I enjoyed Peter McLennan’s wrap of the evening, which further highlights why the Herbs section of the event was so great to watch:

  4. Elizabeth says:

    The Wyld were incredibly bad. Something about people that aren’t as cool as they think they are trying to be cool and hipster-like. Just awful.

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