Tuesday, 22 December 2015

2015 Scene Awards - Australian Artist of the Year

2015 will go down as one of the greatest years for Australian artists. At home and abroad, so many local acts showed the world why Australian music is the bestest. Vance Joy toured the world with Taylor Swift, Tkay Maidza continued to breathe new life into the rap game, Sarah Blasko released her most positively radiant album yet and Chet Faker took out the Hottest 100. Tame Impala captivated listeners with their alternative grooves, earning Grammy nominations and taking out top honours at the ARIA Awards. And speaking of the Grammy Awards, Courtney Barnett is up for Best New Artist thanks to her groundbreaking debut, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit. Young Troye Sivan is killing it on the charts, along with the Sewell siblings, Conrad and Grace. Our next Scene Award is for Australian Artist of the Year, and the four acts selected below embody all the things we love the most about our homegrown heroes.



We’ve really backed ourselves into a corner here, because we can’t write a million words about everything we like, so we had to narrow it down to four artists. The thing is, I’m going to be honest and say I could have put the names of a hundred Australian artists in some kind of hipster Amish inspired hat and any name I picked out would have been one I was happy to chat about. Kind of glad this is the name that came out of my hat, because having to write something was an excuse to watch that cult inspired clip for ‘Embracing Me’ again, because truth is, I look really good in head scarves and kind of want one of those floral dresses. However, this isn’t about my ideas of fashion, let’s talk about Safia. After an impressive couple of years of introduction to the world, winning awards and collaborating with other awesome Australian artists, this Canberr-ian trio have spent 2015 travelling millions of kilometres across this huge country and the world, playing live gigs and festivals for months on end, releasing tracks of incredible, intoxicating electronic indie goodness in between, all the while being hailed as Australia’s “next big thing”. The only thing they really need to do now is release their debut album, so they can get rid of the “next” in front of “big thing” and just be as “big” as they’re destined to be. And if you haven’t figured out it out yet, that’s quite big actually. (Jo Michelmore)

3. Holy Holy

I always find the concept of choosing a favourite Australian artist a little odd, because I don’t particularly care where an artist is from, as long as the music is right. In saying that though, there’s something special about knowing an artist is someone who has walked my streets and seen the world that I live in on a day to day basis, because their music is the inspiration that gets me through my day to day stuff. With all of that in mind, it’s kind of fitting that a band who know exactly some of the streets I have walked day to day but who have created their music across thousands of kilometres are one of the ones I have chosen as my fave Australian artists of the year. Holy Holy, comprising of two guys from different parts of the country I live in, who met in a completely different part of the world, then came together to make some of the most inspiring sounds of the year. Telling some of the most honest tales with their debut album When The Storms Would Come, they created an instant modern classic and I’m so, so happy they’ve been taking the sounds that have followed me around my streets to the streets of the world this year, because music like theirs belongs in the hands of so many, from everywhere on this tiny, giant planet of ours. (Jo Michelmore)

Runner-Up: Little May

I'm lucky enough to have friends that live all over the world. I should really say I'm lucky enough to have friends, but that's neither here nor there and I'm really not a bad person. Anyway, friends around the world... people that will say things like, "what's some good Australian music I should listen to?" And I'm always so happy to be able to say, "you are going to LOVE this album called For The Company from Little May." Because if I'm going to recommend someone the very best in Australian music, I'm going to recommend Little May. So many of their songs sound like how Australia should sound. When you hear a song like 'Chemicals' that's really honest and comes from this lonely and vulnerable place, you hear that Australian accent shining through in Hannah Field's vocals and you know there's still strength there. I don't know how to describe it other than it's totally and perfectly Australian. Field, Liz Drummond and Annie Hamilton spent a lot of time overseas this year, flying the AUS music flag proudly all through Europe and the U.S.A. In 2015 Little May were signed by the iconic Island Records and Capital Records in the UK and U.S.A respectively and recorded their debut album in New York with the assistance of The Nationals' Aaron Dessner. It's that album, For The Company, that only further establishes the trio as the most thrilling and devastatingly heartbreaking songwriters and performers in the country. And if they're the best Australia has to offer in the music making department, they're the best in the world too. What? We said at the start that Australian music is the bestest. (Matt Bond)  

WINNER: Ella Hooper

When we were discussing who to place first in this category, Jo said something along the lines of Ella Hooper deserving it because she works hard to promote AUS music and keeps doing her own thing and recording, regardless of who is or isn't playing her stuff, but everyone should. Obviously I couldn't agree more, because here we are... Australian Artist of the Year, Ella Hooper. Hooper ended last year with the release of her debut solo album, In Tongues, which we were listening to long into 2015. Actually, I'm still kinda listening to it today because it's all kinds of awesome. While we had grown accustomed to a certain length of time between visits, we didn't have to wait long at all to hear a little something something new, with the Venom EP released in early August. What a delightfully gorgeous concept that would prove to be, tracking the stages of heartache to healing over five engrossing songs that show there's still so much Ella has to give to the world of music. And if you give her Facey-book a little once over (might as well give it a 'like' while you're there), you'll see that the New Magic EP isn't far off and if that doesn't make you excited for 2016, you need to get yourself on board the Hooper train right now and give In Tongues and Venom a listen. After that, you'll be just as excited for what comes next as I am. Other than the amazing music, Hooper spent her time in 2015 interviewing and promoting local acts on radio and TV (every time I turned on the ABC, it was like "oh hey Ella"), mentoring the next generation of music stars as part of the Melbourne Music Bank and showed her support for a slew of up-and-coming locals loves like Jack Colwell, Melody Pool and more. Far from being the Aussie battler or underdog, Ella Hooper is everything we love about 'Strayan musicians. Supportive of others and incredibly talented in her own right. Bring on New Magic! (Matt Bond) 

2014 Winner:
Little May
Runner-Up: Thelma Plum

2013 Winner:
Thelma Plum
Runner-Up: JONES jnr

2012 Winner:
Texas Tea
Runner-Up: Sarah Blasko

2011 Winner:
Seeker Lover Keeper
Runner-Up: Gotye

2010 Winner:

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