The annual Taite Music Prize awards ceremony took a slightly different stage this year due to COVID-19 regulations. Originally to take place at Auckland’s Q Theatre in April, the awards ceremony found a new home via webstream on Facebook, YouTube and undertheradar.co.nz. Kiwis nationwide tuned into the prestigious awards alongside some of Aotearoa’s finest musicians to watch winners accept their awards through video.
Prime Minister, Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern delighted us with a quick appearance, presenting the main award and acknowledging the depth of loss COVID-19 has made on the music industry, “These are uncertain times but something I’m sure about is our [music] industry will be a vital contributor to New Zealand’s recovery and we are working hard as a government – as we speak – to make sure that the arts are at the centre of our revitalisation.”
The Taite Music Prize highlights outstanding New Zealand albums released in the past calendar year. The award is open to all genres of music from any record label and judged on artistic merit, regardless of genre or sales. Named after the late Dylan Taite, one of the country’s most highly respected music journalists, The Taite Music Prize recognises outstanding creativity in an entire collection of music contained on one recording.
The Taite Music Prize was awarded to the much-deserving Troy Kingi who delivered Holy Colony Burning Acres last July with his band The Upperclass. The album dives into worldwide indigenous politics, namely, colonisation and the crippling effects it has on today’s social climate. Embedded in electrifying 70’s-style deep roots/reggae, Troy Kingi takes these issues head-on with Marley-inspired political consciousness. Holy Colony Burning Acres is the third instalment in Troy Kingi’s 10/10/10 series: 10 albums in 10 genres in 10 years. Keep an eye out for his next project due later this year!
Troy receives a cash prize of $12,500 from Taite Music Prize founding partner, Recorded Music NZ; recording time at the Red Bull Studios in Auckland; and a years supply of Red Bull product.
The Auckland Live Best Independent Debut was awarded to Repulsive Woman, the solo project of Millicent Lovelock. One-half of alt/indie duo Astro Children, Millie has also been releasing music under the moniker Repulsive Woman since 2015. She spent 2018 at the Red Bull Music Academy in Berlin and in 2019 released her debut album Relief. The eight-track album is an elusive, guitar-driven exploration of self in the context of modern society. Millie uniquely crafts soothing melodies with intricate lyrics to convey inner-conflicts and societal pressures.
Repulsive Woman receives a $2000 cash prize and a live performance opportunity thanks to Auckland Live.
Graham Reid (esteemed journalist and founder of elsewhere.co.nz) presented the Independent Music NZ Classic Record, an award that celebrates an iconic New Zealand record that continues to inspire us today. This year’s panel gave praise to Shona Laing’s synth-soaked album South released in 1987 on Pagan Records (NZ). South marked a significant shift in Shona’s career where synth-pop suddenly took the reins, her insightful lyrics, both poetic and political, remained. Following South, Shona toured internationally, produced five more albums, received two APRA Silver Scroll awards and was inducted into the NZ Music Hall of Fame in 2013! Upon receiving the Classic Record award Shona expressed her joy in saying “It’s blissful. It’s the sweetest award I think I’ve ever had.”
In 2019, Independent Music NZ introduced a new award to celebrate a New Zealand person whose work in the industry assists in the growth of local musicians and creatives alike. This year the Independent Spirit Award was presented to Murray Cammick who continues to be a highly influential figure in music. Cammick has been an exemplary all-rounder in the music industry since the 70’s, having contributed through his work in photography, journalism, radio and more. He co-founded seminal music magazine RipItUp in 1977 and with Simon Lynch, launched Southside Records in 1989 (Moana and the Moa Hunters, Upper Hutt Posse, Ngaire). Cammick documented important cultural moments including Bob Marley’s visit to Aotearoa in 1979. His “fly on the wall” approach meant he was able to capture rare and unique moments of big stars including Iggy Pop, George Benson, Debbie Harry and Siouxie Sioux.
MC’s for the evening’s proceedings were 95bFM’s Sarah Thomson and IMNZ Chairperson and founder of Loop Recordings, Mikee Tucker.
The Taite Music Prize panel tasked with determining the finalists was made up of an extensive selection of music media/industry specialists. The finalist judges made their decision based entirely on the artistic merit on the album. Sales, genres, artist recognition or popularity are not contributing factors in their decision-making process.
2020 Taite Music Prize Judges
The Taite Music Prize
Presented by: Independent Music New Zealand (IMNZ)
Founding Partner: Recorded Music NZ
Official Partners: NZ On Air / The Taite Family
Award Partners: Auckland Live
Event Partners: Q Theatre
Supporting Partners: Panhead Breweries / NZ Music Commission / APRA AMCOS / Media Arts Lawyers / Red Bull Studios Auckland / Native Tongue Publishing / Commotion Ltd. / McCarthy Design / Loop / College Hill Productions / Tone Deaf Productions / Oceania Productions
Media Partners: RNZ Music / 95bFM
Charity Partners: MusicHelps
Previous winners of The Taite Music Prize:
2010 – Lawrence Arabia – Chant Darling (Honorary Bedouin Records)
2011 – Ladi6 – The Liberation Of (What? Music)
2012 – Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Unknown Mortal Orchestra (Seeing Records)
2013 – SJD – Elastic Wasteland (Round Trip Mars)
2014 – Lorde – Pure Heroine (Universal Music NZ)
2015 – Jakob – Sines (Shoot The Freak)
2016 – Silicon – Personal Computer (Weird World/Domino Recordings)
2017 – Street Chant – Hauora (Arch Hill Recordings)
2018 – Aldous Harding – Party (Flying Nun Records / 4AD)
2019 – Avantdale Bowling Club – Avantdale Bowling Club (Years Gone By)
Previous Winners of the Independent Music NZ Classic Record:
2013 – Gordons – Gordons (Flying Nun)
2014 – Various Artists – AK79 (Ripper Records)
2015 – Herbs – What’s Be Happen? (Warrior Records)
2016 – Upper Hutt Posse – E Tu (Jayrem Records)
Previous Winners of the Auckland Live Best Independent Debut:
2017 – Merk – Swordfish (self released)
2018 – The Miltones – The Miltones (Self-released)
2019 – Alien Weaponry – Tu (Napalm Records)
Previous Winners of the Independent Spirit Award:
2019 – Bernie Griffin