The final stop on APRA AMCOS’ global run to celebrate their overseas songwriters was significant for a few reasons. As the furthest home away from home, the Australian and New Zealand artists who made the long trek to the UK are arguably the most in need of a little homeland comfort. More than that though, the songwriters honoured and those in attendance are among the finest exports we have.
Speaking onstage to open the Awards at Ham Yard Hotel in London’s Soho, APRA Chair Jenny Morris said:
“As our members and our organisation become more global and more dynamic, getting together in the same room is invaluable.
“[…] One of the reasons I loved the idea of doing these global awards is to make you aware that we see you, even though you’re on the other side of the world. And we honour you, and we’re really proud of you,” Morris said.
As our members and our organisation become more global and more dynamic, getting together in the same room is invaluable.
Hosted by singer-songwriter Georgia Mooney (from ARIA-winning band All Our Exes Live in Texas), and featuring goosebump-inducing performances by Chiara Hunter with Mali-Koa and Daniel Merriweather, London’s Global APRA Music Awards completed APRA’s trio of events under the ‘global’ banner, following Los Angeles (26 February) and Nashville (1 March).
APRA AMCOS CEO Dean Ormston made sure he addressed the destruction and devastation caused by a recent tornado in Nashville and sent his love to those affected. As the final stop on the run, London was a sentimental affair for the organisation; Ormston used his speech to praise the community of local songwriters in the room.
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“We punch well above our weight internationally and you are all to be applauded for what you are doing,” he said.
WATCH: The live stream of London’s Global APRA Music Awards below
It should be said that with 107,500 members and almost 500 million in collected royalties this financial year, APRA AMCOS is also punching above its weight. For perspective, PRS, the collecting society for the UK has 145,000 members.
London-based APRA AMCOS Ambassadors Juanita Stein and Alexander Burnett presented the first award of the night, with Breakthrough Songwriter of the Year London awarded to Australia’s Cloves (Kaity Dunstan). Cloves may be currently working in a new LP, but she’s had a purple patch of wins since making the trip to the UK. Her song ‘Everybody’s Son’ featured in The Vampire Diaries, and following the release of her debut album ‘One Big Nothing’, she performed on Late Night with Seth Meyers, and toured through Europe.
Cloves took the stage to thank her team, and her dog:
“I get really awkward about good things, so apologies,” she said endearingly. “[…] I’d really like to thank all my collaborators for keeping me inspired and pulling me out of my constant hole. I’d like to thank my team, thank you to S&B (Creative), Ed (Swinburne) and Melvin (Brown) for always sticking with me. Thank you to my dog, Woody.”
I’d really like to thank all my collaborators for keeping me inspired and pulling me out of my constant hole.
Acclaimed screen composer Jed Kurzel took out the Overseas Recognition Award London, which was presented by future pop artist and songwriter Josef Salvat, who relocated to London eight years ago.
The founding member of The Mess Hall has composed music and scores for Snowtown, Assassin’s Creed, Alien: Covenant, and recently collaborated again with his filmmaker brother Justin Kurzel on the music for True History of the Kelly Gang.
Onstage tonight Jed Kurzel was sincerely shocked at the win, despite his longlist of Hollywood and indie film scores. He admitted he’s had “a really weird last six years” of switching from singer-songwriter in a band to becoming a film composer.
“It’s a real honour and I’d like to thank APRA because ever since I started doing this they’ve always been incredibly supportive. […] When I got into this I didn’t really know how it all worked but APRA was always calling and very helpful.”
An indelible highlight saw The Bad Seeds guitarist George Vjestica take the stage to present his bandmates and legendary Australian songwriting and composing partners Nick Cave and Warren Ellis with the Distinguished Services Award London.
From the celebrated and groundbreaking indie rock of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds and Grinderman, to the pair’s lauded film scores including The Proposition, The Road and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Cave and Ellis have had a storied music career so far.
They were beamed in via video to accept the award from their studio where they are currently working. The pair thanked APRA AMCOS, as well as their music collaborators.
“I’d like to thank Mick and Jim from Dirty Three who showed me how to be fearless,” said Warren Ellis. “And to take a path least expected.”
Nick Cave thanked his team, his wife Susie, and Warren Ellis for “opening up the idea of songwriting” for him.
“When you step into a song with Warren Ellis you really don’t know where it’s going to lead and for me that’s been enormously helpful,” said Cave.
Ellis said Cave pushed him to go as far as he wanted to: “I think it’s allowed us to keep exploring everything, whether it’s songs, whether it’s scores… as long as it’s working and as long as at the end of the day we can look at each other and say, ‘wow!’.
When you step into a song with Warren Ellis you really don’t know where it’s going to lead.
The beauty of having an awards ceremony with just four award categories is the room it gives its host to divulge anecdotes. And while we were never far from a laugh thanks to Georgia Mooney, one particular anecdote had the room in stitches.
“We were going from the [Sydney APRA Music] Awards to the after party and I was chatting to this friendly, lovely guy. Could not remember his name, he was really nice but had a face I couldn’t quite place.
“[…] I was saying, ‘Aren’t the APRA Awards just the most fun? ARIA Awards are fine; they’re exciting and shiny, but the APRA Awards are really actually the best awards. He smiled and nodded and we lost each other in the bar line. But the next morning when my hangover truly kicked in, his name came back and it was Dan Rosen, CEO of ARIA.”
It was apposite to have New Zealand-born, Australian-raised and current London resident Jordan Rakei take the stage to accept the award for Songwriter of the Year London. In many ways Rakei represents the Global APRA Music Awards as a whole. Having lived and breathed all three of the music industries celebrated tonight, his New Zealand roots, his Brisbane home town, and his new home base in London see him personify what the awards are about.
Onstage to accept the award Jordan Rakei revealed that three years before his big move to London in 2015 he was working at Coles in Brisbane filling shelves in a night fill.
“I wrote my first EP a capella in the shelves at 2am. I saved up all my money from Coles, I think it was $8,000, and I moved to London. I didn’t know anyone, but I met Ben (Coyle-Larner) about two weeks later and Ben knows everyone.”
I saved up all my money from Coles, I think it was $8,000, and I moved to London.
It was Ben himself who presented Rakei with the award. The UK hip-hop artist, who performs under Loyle Carner, collaborated with Rakei on his #3 UK album Not Waving, But Drowning last year. The LP is littered with Rakei co-writes and producer credits, and features Rakei on track four: ‘Ottolenghi’.
Loyle Carner said: “Like all things that have blown my mind, I remember exactly wheee I was when I heard Jordan Rakei’s voice. I was sat on a very uncomfortable stool in (UK artist and producer) Tom Misch’s bedroom.”
Like all things that have blown my mind, I remember exactly wheee I was when I heard Jordan Rakei’s voice.
He said he asked Misch to play him the track again, and again, and again.
“He reminds me of J Dilla, D’Angelo, Chet Baker, Questlove, Jeff Buckley, the list could go on forever. But as much as he is, like all of us, a collection of his influences, he is unique, completely original and refreshing at a time when monotony in music is praised.”
With all three of APRA’s Global Music Awards, one thing remains clear: how vital this new addition to the Australian and New Zealand music industry is. If you’ve read our other reports from LA and Nashville, you’ll know how grateful each songwriter was to not only have their work overseas recognised, but to have it recognised in their new hometowns, in the company of their fellow export peers.
GLOBAL APRA MUSIC AWARDS – LONDON – WINNERS
Breakthrough Songwriter of the Year – London
Kaity Dunstan (pka Cloves) (Writer)
Universal Music Publishing obo Canal Music Publishing (Publisher)
Overseas Recognition Award – London
Jed Kurzel (Writer)
G Schirmer Australia obo Chester Music (Publisher)
Songwriter of the Year – London
Jordan Rakei (Writer)
Sony/ATV Music Publishing (Publisher)
Distinguished Services Award – London
Nick Cave & Warren Ellis (Writers)
Mushroom Music obo Mute Song Limited (Publisher)