Arts – Vera Ellen wins 2024 Taite Music Prize

Multi-instrumentalist, singer, record producer, and composer Ben Lemi with winner Vera Ellen. Photo credit: Dave Simpson

Independent Music New Zealand (IMNZ) is proud to announce the winner of the prestigious 2024 Taite Music Prize at an exclusive ceremony held at the Q Theatre in Tāmaki Makaurau. The event celebrated outstanding New Zealand albums released in the previous calendar year and showcased exceptional local talent across genres.

Pippa Ryan-Kidd of IMNZ set the tone of the night with an inspiring opening speech, “IMNZ are always immensely proud to produce an award ceremony that reflects creativity and puts artistic talent at the very core of the event. We hope that awarding musicians for creativity and artistic merit encourages them to be innovative and progressive in their music. This is important for the evolution of music as an art form and for the growth and diversity of the industry as a whole.”

Vera Ellen was awarded the main prize for her album, Ideal Home Noise, released via Flying Nun Records. Ellen receives a $12,500 cash prize, courtesy of founding partner Recorded Music NZ. The award was presented by 2023 winner Princess Chelsea and Nick Atkinson, musician (Supergroove, Hopetoun Brown) and Independent Artist Representative from Recorded Music NZ.

Following the critical success of her 2021 album It’s Your Birthday, Ellen’s latest work Ideal Home Noise digs deep into personal introspection, balancing comedic elements with darker themes through contrasting musical styles. Recorded at Wellington’s The Surgery, the album was produced by multi-instrumentalist Ben Lemi.

Additional honours:

  • Jujulipps took home the Auckland Live Best Independent Debut for her EP Get That Shot,reflecting her dynamic style and introspective lyrics. Her debut captures the challenges and triumphs of navigating the music industry, featuring a mix of influences from Leikeli47 to Nicki Minaj. In Jujulipps’ acceptance speech, she reflected on her transformative choice to redirect her life path: “This has been such a crazy journey ever since a decided to put myself into music I’ve had zero regrets.”
  • The Independent Spirit Awardwas bestowed uponTeremoana Rapley MNZM, recognising her longstanding contributions to music and advocacy for Pacific artists. Brown Boy Magik effusively praised his mentor while presenting her award: “She’s inspired a whole generation of artists, she’s built worlds, her music is a testament to pacifica storytelling.”
  • Cushla Dillon and Andrew Moore were recognised with the NZ On Air Outstanding MusicJournalism Awardfor their documentary on the legendary rock band King Loser, highlighting the band’s unique story and impact on the local music scene. “NZ On Air is proud to be the sponsor of the NZ On Air Outstanding Music Journalism Award and sends a huge congratulations to this year’s winners, Cushla Dillon and Andrew Moore,” Teresa Patterson, NZ On Air Head of Music, says. “Their music documentary, King Loser, plays a part – alongside more mainstream day-to-day music journalism – in helping to tell the many and varied stories within our music industry.”
  • Look Blue Go Purple received the Independent Music NZ Classic Recordaward for their 1991 compilation album. Jan Hellriegel of Songbroker Music Publishing, who presented the award said: “Good music is timeless and Look Blue Go Purple has never been more in demand for synch licensing. From US fashion houses and online Skate Magazines to local documentaries and films. There is something to be said about the authenticity and energy this wonderful band created like a classic car it’s become more valued with age. I am proud to represent LBGP as their publisher and delighted that they are receiving this award.”

Highlights:

The ceremony featured performances by previous Taite Music Prize winners, including Princess Chelsea and Lawrence Arabia. The event, attended by over 300 IMNZ members, industry professionals, and media, was a vibrant showcase of New Zealand’s rich musical heritage.

Judging panel:

The 2024 Taite Music Prize panel was comprised of esteemed members of the music media and industry, dedicated to a transparent and fair selection process based entirely on artistic merit. The judges were:

  • Charlotte Ryan – RNZ
  • Damon Newton – Auckland Live
  • Dianne Swann – Artist, IMNZ Board
  • Jana Te Nahu Owen – RNZ, Artist
  • Kiran Dass – Freelance journalist
  • Madeleine Chapman – The Spinoff
  • Matthew Crawley – Artist, radio host, promoter
  • Pennie Black – Concord Music Publishing, IMNZ Board
  • Karl Puschmann – Freelance journalist
  • Rachel Ashby – 95bFM, NZ Music Commission
  • Russell Baillie – NZ Listener
  • Taylor MacGregor – IMNZ Board, Save Our Venues
  • Wairere Iti – NZ Music Commission, Māori Music Industry Coalition.

The Taite Music Prize, named after the legendary music journalist Dylan Taite, is presented annually by Independent Music New Zealand (IMNZ) and supported by partners including Recorded Music NZ, NZ On Air, and Q Theatre. It aims to highlight the best in local music based on artistic excellence.

Ends.