23 Apr 2024

Vera Ellen wins 2024 Taite Music Prize

11:10 pm on 23 April 2024
Taite Music Prize 2024 winner Vera Ellen with album producer Ben Lemi.

Taite Music Prize 2024 winner Vera Ellen with album producer Ben Lemi. Photo: RNZ / Samuel Robinson

Wellington artist Vera Ellen has won the prestigious Taite Music Prize for 2024.

Her album Ideal Home Noise was honoured at an exclusive ceremony at Auckland's Q Theatre on Tuesday night. The honour includes a $12,500 cash prize from Recorded Music NZ.

The Taite Music Prize, named after late music journalist Dylan Taite, highlights outstanding New Zealand albums released in the previous calendar year.

"This is like a fever dream," Ellen said in accepting the award.

"I'd like to acknowledge all my Polish and Welsh ancestors and all of their sacrifices which has led me to being here. I'd also like to acknowledge all the female artists that came before me whose shoulders I definitely stand on.

"I'm a product of the beautiful music scene here in Aotearoa where creativity and talent is abundant. Music is important to our mental health and quality of life."

Ellen also thanked her producer Ben Lemi, calling him the "North Star to this record, I'm so lucky to have found a friend like him".

Ideal Home Noise is an album born from personal turmoil. In a 2023 interview with RNZ's Tony Stamp, Ellen revealed the album reflected a rough time in her life.

"To be super blunt, I was suicidal. I was struggling with depression and had a bit of an existential crisis over a long period of time."

Members of Look Blue Go Purple celebrate their IMNZ Classic Record honour.

Members of Look Blue Go Purple celebrate their IMNZ Classic Record honour. Photo: RNZ / Samuel Robinson

Ellen's latest work was recorded at Wellington's The Surgery and was produced by multi-instrumentalist Ben Lemi.

It's not the first time Ellen has been recognised for her work - her last album, It's Your Birthday, won her Best Alternative Artist at the Aotearoa Music Awards and was shortlisted for the 2022 Taite Music Prize.

The ceremony on Tuesday night honoured the contributions of many local artists and featured performances from previous winners Princess Chelsea and Lawrence Arabia.

Jujulipps took home the Auckland Live Best Independent Debut for her EP, Get That Shot.

"Honestly I really wasn't expecting to win, being alongside such amazing artists," the South African born singer said.

"I want to say thank you so much to everybody at Big Pop, this has been a crazy journey ever since I put myself fully into doing music, I've had zero regrets, only positive experiences, I was not expecting this."

Teremoana Rapley was awarded the Independent Spirit Award, recognising her longstanding contributions to music and advocacy for Pacific artists.

"I love music, music is me, there's no way to separate it from who I am and what I do," she said.

"Thank you for all of you musicians and managers and mums and dads and everyone who makes up this ecosystem, mauri ora."

Auckland Live Best Independent Debut winner Jujulipps.

Auckland Live Best Independent Debut winner Jujulipps. Photo: RNZ / Samuel Robinson

Cushla Dillon and Andrew Moore received the NZ On Air Outstanding Music Journalism Award for their documentary on legendary rock band King Loser.

"It took us seven years to make this film .. there were lots of ups and downs but we kept plugging away at it, thank you everyone, we've been through complete chaos making this but we got there," Moore said.

"What kept us going is NZ music and how much we love it - it's kept me going this whole time."

Iconic Dunedin band Look Blue Go Purple received the Independent Music NZ Classic Record award for their 1991 compilation album.

"Far out," said member Kath Webster in accepting the award. "This is really cool, we're so pleased and stoked.

"I can't frankly believe that all this time later our music is being listened to and appreciated, thank you."

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