Thursday, April 16, 2015

Jakob wins! Taite Prize recap

I dug out this badge and wore it to the Taite Prize

The Taite Prize ceremony was held in at Auckland’s Galatos venue last night. I had the honour of being asked to be one of the judges this year, it was a fascinating process. We got to decide on the winner for the Taite Prize, and select the Independent NZ Classic Record for this year, awarded to Herbs for their 1981 mini album Whats Be Happen? 

The event opened with the MCs Charlotte Ryan and Lawrence Arabia welcoming us, and then kicked off with a couple of songs from Delaney Davison, including his stunning take on In The Pines.

Lorde, with Charlotte Ryan on left

Charlotte and Lawrence returned to the stage, and talked about Lorde's win last year, and how she'd given the prize money to the other 9 finalists. Lawrence the read out a list of what each one had dome with the money from Sheep Dog and Wolf buying new studio monitors for the recording of their new album, to UMO saying the money probably went on paying his kids's school fees, to Beastwars saying they bought a Gibson SG guitar, so they could "rock the fuck out."

Lorde was invited up on stage to make a speech, she's self deprecating and very funny. 

She talked about writing songs for her next album in her pop castle in Morningside, while drinking the blood of Six60. She actually said that.

She'd been asked to list achievements of last year, and decided that we probably didn't want to hear about various awards events, although she did admit she got to meet Prince, and only half came off as a uncool. Prince walked past her and then leaned in and whispered to her "Great to meet you", and she turned round and blurted out 'You too! Oh my god!' Cos, it's Prince.

So instead, she listed some of  her other achievements, such as learning she can do anything on 4 hours sleep and an energy drink; she can now wash her undies in any hotel bathroom sink; and she taught Paul McKessar the 'sup nod. Genuine life skill right there.

L-R: Will Illolahia, Moana Maniapoto, Hugh Lynn, Phil Toms, Ross France, Phil Yule, Spenz Fusimalohi

Next was a brief video segment on indie classic record award, with Graham Reid talking about the cultural and political importance of What's Be Happen, and then the voiceover reads out my quote about it, from IMNZ's press release. That was odd.

Moana Maniapoto came onstage to introduce What's Be Happen. "Ah, 1981. That's a bit hazy...."

She talks about going to see Bob Marley in 1979, and a few years later, hitch hiking up to Auckland for Stevie Wonder. It was a miserable rainy day, and she and her friend were there, standing in the mud, and the opening band came on. She was all like 'boo, we want Stevie' for their first song, but by the second song, she thought, 'oh, these guys are alright'. She remembers that if your shut your eyes, it was like being transported to the Pacific, and the sky was all  blue and the sun was out...

By the end she was like, this band, they're pretty choice, what are they called? Herbs? Aw yeah. Then Stevie Wonder came out, and thanked the crowd for coming and said he wasn't able to play due to the rain, as it was too dangerous and he didn't want to get electrocuted. and we should hold onto our tickets so we can get our money back.

So Moana and her friend were scrambling round in the mud looking for the tickets, cos they'd thrown them away when they got inside. And Moana is thinking hang on, how come it was okay for the brothers in Herbs to risk their lives, but not you, Stevie?

Moana Maniapoto: "I knew when they put out What's be happen they were not wusses. Because of that cover..."

Herbs' manager from the early days, Will Illolahia. Photo by Peter McLennan
Herbs' manager from the early days, Will Illolahia

Hugh Lynn, owner of Mascot Studios and Warrior Records
Hugh Lynn, owner of Mascot Studios and Warrior Records

The band's manager from the early days, Will Illolahia spoke first, talking about that time, and also introduced the people who had joined him onstage including the band's lawyer Ross France (of the band Diatribe), who wrote the song Azania, on What's Be Happen?.

Will noted that "Tony Fonoti sends his apologises that hes not here - hes an Australian these days", and that Dilworth Karaka of the band was on his way but he was on Maori time - then Will quickly turns round to Moana and says "Sorry, sis."

Hugh Lynn, owner of Mascot Studios and Warrior Records spoke next, talking about the band's influence, and what they taught him.

Phil Toms, bass player on the record, talked about that time, saying he hoped it finally came out on CD, cos he couldn't understand how it could be a classic record when hardly anyone could hear it these days (Tho it was mentioned earlier in the night that it's on Spotify).

Phil Yule, engineer at Mascot Studios on the Herbs recording talked about how the band came into the studio, and they looked pretty street, and he wasn't street at all, but he got along with them ok. "They wanted me to make it loud and I figured out you turn up the bass and the kick really loud and it works!"

Then an audience member starts singing E Papa and the crowd and band join in. It was a beautiful moment, recalling the 2012 APRA Silver Scrolls, when Herbs were inducted to the NZ Music Hall of Fame, and the assembled band members on stage sang that same tune.

Next up, Damian Vaughan from RMZ made the announcement of this years winner - Jakob, for their album Sines.

Jakob’s guitarist Jeff Boyle, was first to speak, saying "I’m in shock. This is my worst nightmare by the way -  there's a reason we're an instrumental band!" They talked about the long gestation period for this album, 8 years, and the trials and tribulations of making it. The band are off to Europe for a tour (delayed from 2008, due to injuries) and the $10,000 prize would got towards that endevour.

Don McGlashan closed out the night with some songs of his forthcoming new solo album. Congrats to all involved in staging the event, great night!

Livestream of Taite Prize, via BFM

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