Every year the Queensland Music Awards is a time to celebrate the releases from Queensland artists that have had huge national and international success, and the ones that have genuinely struck an emotional cord with listeners.
This years ceremony at The Fortitude Music Hall saw artists like Ball Park Music, SYCCO, Beckah Amani, Amy Shark, Keith Urban, Jesswar, Jaguar Jonze, Miiesha, Young Franco and Hope D winning big. The ceremony also celebrates Queensland venues and events that have played a big part in the magic of the year.
We took to the red carpet to chat to some of the artists and have a bit of a laugh and embrace the fact we are able to celebrate together again for the first time in a year. Check out the highlights video BELOW;
Videography by Lyndon James
Read the full chats with Ball Park Music, Cub Sport, DZ Deathrays, Eves Karydas, Hope D, Jaguar Jonze, Jesswar, SYCCO, Washington and Young Franco BELOW;
Ball Park Music
TB: Your self titled album has been out for 7 months now and is nominated for album of the year tonight. So reflecting back on the record after having the chance to play some live shows and see how its resonated with the fans, what is something new you’ve learnt about the record and what it means to you as a band?
SAM CROMACK: Maybe just that it’s good? *laughs*
JENNIFER BOYCE: It’s always hard to know until people do hear it. I think people have really embraced the more meaningful stuff and not just the party bangers. They’ve taken a liken to the things with more substance that make them feel things which has been great.
TB: Were you surprised that ‘Cherub’ did so well on the Hottest 100 earlier this year?
JB: Yeah, for the same reason! And it’s a long song!
DEAN HANSON: We were so shocked. Hottest 100 day is equally as exciting as your anxiety is through the roof. You’re sitting there all day waiting and waiting, and it gets to the point where it’s either not happening or it’s a really good result.
TB: It is so anxiety ridden because in particular there were so many songs this year that didn’t make it like Tkay Maidza’s ‘Shook’ which I was so surprised by.
JB: There were so many of my votes that didn’t make it in and I was very shocked!
TB: Over the weekend you performed at Riverstage and you played tracks like ‘Head Like A Sieve’, ‘Nothing Ever Goes My Way’, ‘Day & Age’, ‘Spark Up’ and ‘Cherub’ from the new record. So what has been one of the most challenging or most exciting song to bring into the live setting?
DH: It’s different for all of us, I think. I don’t like playing ‘Nothing Ever Goes My Way’. There’s too much to think about *laughs*.
JB: I love playing ‘Bad Taste Blues, Pt. III’! That’s been my favourite song since I first heard it, and it’s honestly my favourite song of ours ever. So it’s so cool finally playing it live and having the audience sing along to it.
SM: ‘Cherub’ is a bit challenging for me because for so long it’s just me and Dean at the start. It’s a bit dainty and it’s a little bit intimidating as I’m scared I’m singing it badly. But I mainly just wanna say that playing this new record is so fun, which is why we’ve got 6 song from it in the setlist. We really like it!
TB: You’re very instrumental in bringing together the Cub Sport live shows and finding where the new songs sit sonically and visually on the stage. So with the ‘LIKE NIRVANA’ shows at The Tivoli what was one of the most challenging aspects of that show?
DAN PUUSAARI: To be honest the uncertainty of whether the show was going to go ahead. It’s quite a bland and boring topic but you don’t want to spend a lot of money if the show doesn’t go ahead. There’s obviously months of preparation that goes into a show like that, so that’s probably the hardest bit; balancing that on top of the risk of the show not happening.
TB: What song took the longest to find it’s footing sonically?
DP: That’s a tough one!
TB: ‘Best Friend’ sounds like it would’ve been pretty tough?
DP: Yeah, that was probably the song we practiced the most as we had to learn to speed up and slow down all together which wasn’t easy. So yeah, that was probably the most difficult, but to be honest most of those songs on the album came together quicker than previous albums. It was actually quite a welcomed change *laughs*.
TB: You guys are putting out ‘Positive Rising Part 2’ in July. What do you think is going to be the most surprising thing people are going to hear on this album?
SIMON RIDLEY: There’s a real sexy cowboy song on there
SHANE PARSONS: And it sounds like the intro music to a crime show
TB: Ooooh, what crime show are we thinking? Criminal Minds? CSI?
SP: I was thinking more like True Detective vibes. A little bit more sinister
TB: Queensland is home to so many incredible emerging artists, so who are some up and coming Queensland artists/bands that you think we need to get acquainted with ASAP?
SR: One artist is Jesswar, and then Full Flower Moon Band!
LACHLAN EWBANK: Total Pace and Little Mouse too!
TB: Your new single ‘Freckles’ is out tomorrow, so where in the creative space between ‘Complicated’ did this song come together?
EVES KARYDAS: Honestly I would say a couple of years before. This song has been a couple of years in the making for me. But after I wrote ‘Complicated’ I revisited it and I think I had a lot of lived experience since the song was born. It just didn’t make sense back then, so it sat in my song bank for 7-8 years. The finished version was about 6 months after ‘Complicated’.
TB: I’m guessing it sonically shifted quite a bit then because now it’s very pop!
EK: Yeah, it started off on acoustic guitar and very singer-songwriter-y. I think lyrically I figured out it had similar themes to ‘Complicated’ and that it was kinda like its gentle little sister.
TB: What’s your favourite lyric from the song?
EK: I’d say; “This morning I fell on the pavement. It hurt but it felt so simple” because that actually happened, and that was the calatylst for me to finish the song. I put a bandaid on my grazed knee and was like “that was simple. I can’t remember the last time I got hurt my something and fixing it up was so simple”. I just got up and went on with my day.
TB: 2020 was a HUGE year for you and saw you release your debut EP ‘Cash Only’. Now that it’s out in the world, what is something you’ve learnt about yourself from writing and touring it that you’ve taken into this next chapter with your upcoming new music?
HOPE D: I guess I’ve learnt just how much it has impacted people. Meeting people on that tour and hearing what they have to say about the songs was so insane because they were written in my bedroom for me, and now they’ve been able to have some sort of impact on people. So it’s made me want to write more consciously about things that are universal and making a difference that way.
TB: You performed at the Riverstage over the weekend and have just come off a huge tour, so what song from the EP has been the most fun to see audiences embrace?
H: It has to be ‘Swim’ as so many people really get behind that. But the one I love performing the most would be ‘Common Denominator’, which I know is your favourite song too.
TB: And seeing the audience go crazy to ‘Second’ after it being so high in the Hottest 100 is so cool too. What was your reaction when you woke up the next morning after that day, were you just like “did that really happen?”.
H: Yes, “did that actually fucking happen?” *laughs*. I woke up the next morning and went to work and was walking around like “69, fuck me, so crazy! Now, let me clean your plate” *laughs*.
TB: You’re up for best rock release with ‘Rabbit Hole’. So when you look back at the creative process of that song, what is the most random fact you can give us about that song that people may not know?
JAGUAR JONZE: I left some of the specific demo vocals in the released track, and in particular it was the scream, because it was just so gritty, careless, dirty and just fucked that it was perfect.
TB: What was the weirdest obsession or hobby you picked up during lockdown last year because you had some run ins with COVID which was fun.
JJ: SUPER FUN! I ended up building a 3D AR world that Adobe commissioned for one of my singles because when I was sick with COVID I couldn’t sing, so I couldn’t do the whole live stream thing that everyone else was doing. So instead I created a AR world that people could dive into on their phones that I never would’ve done without the rona, so thank you?
TB: You performed at the QMAS last year, so do you remember much from the celebrations last year?
JJ: I do, because it was the last thing we did before we went to the US and everything got fucked. So it’s weird to be back.
TB: You’re up for best hip-hop release with ‘Venom’. So when you look back at the creative process of that song, what is the most random fact you can give us about that song that people may not know?
JESSWAR: I mean I finished the track, and the whole project, in lockdown so that for me was really the time to finish this body of work and get it out there. So that’s probably the most surprising thing.
TB: One of the lyrics is “my stage show is everything”. So how important is delivering an epic live show for you and how have you gone to really hone that?
J: YES! I think I really learnt how to perform through time. At first I was so shy in life in general. So coming up to performing on stage it just took time. There’s a beautiful freedom that comes through performing in front of people, and there’s that beautiful energy exchange. It’s something I had to learn to do, and it’s something I feel most comfortable in life doing now. I love doing it and feeling 100% myself.
TB: I’m absolutely obsessed with ‘My Ways’, like what a song! What was specifically inspiring you when you were working on it because there is a bit of a disco influenced synth pop vibe thrown in there?
SYCCO: I just really wanted something simple, and make the lyrics stand out as a lot of my songs are contextual and hectic so I just wanted to bring it back and let this one vibe.
TB: The “Sit down, sleep now. Breathe in, breathe out” part where you strip it all back for a brief second is my fave. Was that production mix always there for it or did it come later?
S: Jeff Hazin and I wrote it together and when we wrote that line I was like “let’s put a breath in there” and I was just in my room going *breathing in and out loudly*, that’s the take!
TB: It feels a bit like a boyband moment!
S: YES! Whenever I play it live my manager is like you need to put the microphone out to the crowd in that part for them to do the breathing in and out *laughs*.
TB: Your up for best pop release and are also performing tonight too. Are you finding your experiencing a different type of nerves compared to a normal show or event?
S: I just went to the APRA Awards and that was so anxiety inducing, so hopefully I’ve learnt a little bit more for it to not control me. But QMAS are such a fun vibe.
TB: ’Batflowers’ is nominated for album of the year, and as we previously discussed it really is a immersive and introspective record. So reflecting back on the record after having the chance to play some live shows and see how its resonated with the fans, what is something new you’ve learnt about the record and what it means to you?
WASHINGTON: Every time I listen to it as time passes I feel like it’s making more and more sense. I still sort of don’t listen to it or think about it a lot. But it’s awesome to be nominated because I’ve never won a QMA before, and I don’t think I’ve even been nominated so it feels like a whole new world to me.
TB: You brought the album to live in a very theatrical fashion at The Tivoli last year for Brisbane Festival. What was one of the most challenging factors you faced surrounding that show?
W: Probably doing it in COVID. It was really hard. I had a very big vision for the show and I wanted a lot of tricks and gimmicks, and it was the first ever real big show I’ve ever done. I got a real big taste for it. Kylie Minogue, here I come!
TB: Are there plans to tour it?
W: Yeah I think I will tour it next year and play some festivals with it. But for now, I’m just working on a new record.
TB: You’re up for best dance release with ‘Juice’, so when you look back at the creative process of that song, what is the most random fact you can give us about that song that people may not know?
YOUNG FRANCO: I wrote the beat in Sydney, and then had a session with a guy called Pell from Los Angeles, and it kinda just happened. So I guess the most random fact is that it was created across two continents which is kinda cool.
TB: You’re hitting the road in June and July for you biggest headline tour yet. How are you planning on elevating your live show with the sizes of these venues?
YF: You’ll have to see it! That’s all I’ve got for you. I promise you that you need to go, otherwise you’ll never know.
TB: What was the weirdest obsession or hobby you picked up during lockdown last year?
YF: I was baking a lot! I was making a lot of pasta, and that was a moment.
Photos by Han Dodd