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Aotearoa Music Awards 2024

02 Jun 2024 // A review by Ben Ruegg

Thursday 30 May, 2024 was a wonderful night for our music industry. The Aotearoa Music Awards were being held for the first time at the Viaduct Event Centre, and for the first time in two years. As musicians made their way in and down the red carpet just inside the main entrance, I was able to speak with some as they headed just tad further down to where we were able to interview and ask questions.

As the evening went on, and before the show officially kicked off, the main foyer filled up with invited guests from the music community and from inside the industry. As this was a new venue, there was a large black curtain that separated the foyer from the staged area. Upon the curtain being pulled back, the area looked fantastic. The large stage was divided into two main sections where performances could happen on the right, awards presentations could happen on the left.

As the artists made their way down, I was able to speak with them with both my Muzic NZ hat on, as well as my music teacher hat on. I wanted to ask these artists questions pertaining to our akonga, and what advice could they give them.

One of the first groups to head down the red carpet were Racing (pictured above) who took out the Te Manu Taki Rakapoioi o te Tau Best Rock Artist award. I caught up with Isaac and Dan. Having been together for around 10 years now, they still are going strong. I asked them what advice they could give students who wanted to chase this dream of being involved in music, and this answer was consistent among all those I spoke to. They reminded us to keep going. It is a long game. “If you put in consistent effort, you can achieve great things,” said Dan. Isaac spoke of owning your craft, playing, touring and just writing songs.

Paige, who was nominated for Te Manu Taki Arotini o te Tau Best Pop Artist and Spotify Te Tino Pukaemi o te Tau Album of the Year, told me she wanted to chase music as a career due to the sheer “outrageousness" of it all, something to make her life exciting. Taking risk, as she says, has paid off. I’ve seen Paige a few times now and she has an energy and connection with the crowd that must be thrilling to be involved in. She started off busking not far from where we were standing, and here she is now, a finalist for music awards.

As the venue continued to fill, I was able to get in a quick chat with Georgia Lines (pictured below), who went on to win Te Manu Taki Arotini o te Tau Best Pop Artist. Ever so polite, we briefly chatted about the moment she realised she wanted to follow the dream of music. She explained there was an accumulation of moments growing up. She fell in love with performing and writing after an experience at her intermediate school talent quest. And her advice to students, or people in general, is just to start and don’t let fear get in the way.

Tristan from The Beths, who were finalists for, and won, Te Tino Kahui Manu Taki o te Tau Best Group and Spotify Te Tino Pukaemi o te Tau Album of the Year, spoke about how he was interested in the drums from an early age. And now following that path has led him and his band mates to critical acclaim, as well as sell-out shows across our country, but also overseas. “Start playing in bands with your friends now, because it is those relationships that will take you places.”

Just before the show kicked off, I was able to catch up quickly with Sam V, who was nominated for Te Manu Taki Manako o te Tau Best Soul/RnB Artist, and Rei, for Te Mangai Paho Te Manu Taki Maori o te Tau Best Maori Artist. Sam V explained that there really was no other choice for him. He is music. That is what he lives and breathes. I asked him what music he grew up listening to, his answered certainly can be heard throughout his music. All the 90’s RnB, the melodies, the soulfulness... this can all be found in his music today.

Rei pointed out that in music, you have to learn how to manage rejection. “If you want to be rich, become a real estate agent.” Ultimately, all those I spoke to before the show started spoke of the wairua of music. It’s that connection with each other through music that is why these artists continue to do it.

As the awards ceremony kicked off, I headed up to the media room to speak with the winners as they came through. Everyone in attendance looked to be having a great time, commenting that it had been a while since the last awards ceremony and that it was great for everyone to catch up.

The night was filled with some incredible performances that sounded fantastic, from Corrella (pictured above), who won Breakthrough Single of the Year, to the intimate performance of Georgia Lines which opened into a full band performance that finished with a powerful ending. Kaylee Bell (pictured below) had the whole arena energised with her country rock performance. Having taken out Te Manu Taki Tuawhenua o te Tau Best Country Artist earlier in the evening, Kaylee showed us all how to line dance. “When you know you are meant to be doing something, it’s pretty hard to ignore”, Kaylee explained. Her success over the last twelve months has been fantastic and she reminds us that writing songs isn’t just something we can do alone, but it's fun and exciting when working with others.

I caught up with so many artists through the night. Corrella, Home Brew, Princess Chelsea, Aaradhna, Amamelia who all shared with me similar advice for those who want to be in this industry. You have to get out there and do it because you love it. And if tonight was anything to go by (it was the first time I attended in person), the feeling of camaraderie and connection with each other was strong. The award recipients were diverse and wide reaching, yet still, underneath the glitz and the glamour, these are just people who love music and want to share it with us and the world. They want to show what NZ music has to offer and that we can be proud of what we create here in Aotearoa.

As the night was finishing up, I caught up with Marlon Williams who won Te Tino Reo o te Tau Best Solo Artist, and he explained to me that he started chasing the dream of music and song writing because of the emotions he could feel. Song writing was the way of translating and expressing that. “It seemed like the best way out (for my feelings) was to write music. It was the natural progression of these feelings and how to translate them to the world.”

And finally, I asked Stan Walker (pictured below), who continues to have such an incredible career, what advice he would give to students who wanted to pursue a career in music.

“Do it because you love it. Don’t do it for any other reason. Chase the love and the joyful." He has met so many people who have chased it for different reasons, but he believes that chasing it with all your heart and because you truly love it will mean you won’t need to worry about what anyone else thinks. So true.

You can find all the winners and results here.

Photo Credit: Chloe Tredgett for Muzic.net.nz
View the MNZ Photo Gallery here


Other Reviews By Ben Ruegg

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