The Little Red Umbrella Goes To The New Zealand Music Awards by Jessica Gillon

Remember being told when you were a kid that if you dug a hole deep enough in your backyard, you could tunnel all the way to the other side of the world? Geographically, when tunneling from Toronto, Canada, I think you'd end up in a little place at the bottom of the world called Auckland, New Zealand. Apparently our city looks a bit like yours, we have similar trees, architecture and an awkward sense of humor; we like coffee and we really, really like music. Other things we are known for: kiwis (a small flightless bird that can only see in the dark), an over proliferation of sheep and cows, and our laid back attitude. We had that rugby world cup thing here recently (you may have heard about it), which we won, and that was cause for an entire national holiday.

Weʼve established that we like music and winning stuff. So Iʼm going to tell you about a little event we have here which amalgamates these things: The VNZMAs, otherwise known as the Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards, held in a small island nation in the South Pacific. It's otherwise known as the Tuis, tui being a bird that looks like this, famous in our country for its sing-song warble.

Having covered a few of the awards ceremonies for now-defunct Toronto music magazine SoundProof (RIP), this one was going to be a bit different.

Entering the media room, we were greeted by layer upon layer of childlike drawings by musos, and us media people given buckets of crayolas and some “creative license” to scribble on the carpet, walls and sofa. I never had so much fun in my life.

Jessica Gillon drawing a treble clef
While covering the event, we interacted with the surroundings, played hangman on the walls, added and detracted from otherʼs pictures until it was almost all one big picture.

The whole of it is televised to make the rest of the country feel like they're there. I spy amazing chocolate cupcakes with rainbow sprinkles on top. Yum. Instead of watching the show in the arena itself, most of us splinter off into our respective groups and crowd around the backstage TV feed. Six 60 performs “Rise Up” amidst some epic yellow laser lights.

A few more bands play. Crew people make everything all work and happen. More people run around with clipboards.

Brooke Fraser clean sweeps the awards, with five Tuis, again proving she's NZ's songstress darling, with highest selling album, Vodafone highest selling single, International achievement award, The Edge best pop album, Vodafone people's choice award, and a performance of “Something In The Water”, probably the cute-romantic song of the year for this little country.

Brooke Fraser
The awards, mostly sponsored, kept coming: The Naked & Famous won Russian Standard Vodka Album of the Year for “Passive Me, Aggressive You”, Pacific Blue Breakthrough Artist of the Year, Best Alternative Album, Vodafone Single of the Year, Four Best Group – enough to tie them with Fraser for equal number of Tuis to carry home. NZ On Air Best Music Video went to Special Problems, who created the video for The Naked & Famous single “Punching In A Dream”. The Russian Standard Vodka promo girls had awesome grey fluffy outfits and strategically ended up in most photos. (I really wanted one of the awesome Russian hats).

Meanwhile, NZ Herald Legacy Award went to Dragon, who are now in halls of fame in both NZ and Australia, every New Zealander knows this song, this song and of course, this song too. Epic.

Colin Mathura-Jeffree, (New Zealand’s Next Top Model judge and awards presenter on the night) wore a dress made out of meat in an attempt to copy Lady Gaga's VMA's offering. Intense lighting plus meat is never really a good idea for couture.

Rather a lot of effort has gone into this night, boosting the country's morale at a time when it is needed. In Tauranga, a few people are cleaning up a huge oil spill on one of our public beaches. In Christchurch, theyʼre building a container mall after earthquakes wiped out most of the town. This event helps people to imagine times when their city wasn't shaking on its foundations and cargo ships weren't washing up on their shores.

One of my favorite quotes helps to bring this full circle, “Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life”. It was a choice night bro. Sweet as.

Scribbles on a coffee table

SMILE drawing by Silke

Your author's drawing

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Brooke Fraser

Brooke Fraser


Photos: Aaron Gillon

Jess Gillon is a music enthusiast from an island in the South Pacific. One day would love to see the world. I like Japanese food, Byron, and own far too many leopard print items.

Main image: Tiki Taane and two Russian Standard Vodka Promo girls

This post was updated on Sept. 3, 2012.


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