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Marlon Williams has won the 2018 APRA Silver Scroll Award for his poignant ballad Nobody Gets What They Want Anymore. The award was presented at a ceremony at Auckland's Spark Arena on Thursday night.
The Silver Scroll acknowledges excellence in songwriting and has been awarded to some of New Zealand’s most recognisable musicians and songs, from the Swingers’ Counting The Beat to Scribe and P Money’s Not Many.
William's Nobody Gets What They Want Anymore, a duet with fellow Lyttelton musician Aldous Harding, explores the pair’s break-up.
Williams said it was an honour to receive the award and paid homage to the other finalists.
"To hear my name in your company is something that I treasure."
Williams said he made a personal breakthrough writing the album, and that song in particular.
"I'm proud of the song because it taught me something. I've never had a song do that for me. I've learned to cope with love and grief through my own writing process."
He gave a "massive" thank you to Aldous Harding.
"Not only for giving her unmatched and timeless voice to this very personal song, but for so many years of discovery, friendship and love and always in music."
He told RNZ's Music 101's Alex Behan that he felt the song touched something inexpressible, or "sublime".
"It's not something I can even put into words. Maybe there's no lesson in the song itself, just the freeing consequence of writing it."
At the ceremony, Williams' winning song was performed by Nadia Reid, Finn Andrews, Reb Fountain and the Black Quartet.
Williams says of the song, “I was in a unique position to have someone ploughing the same field I am [a break-up]. Not many people get the opportunity to explore those feelings and the subtleties of that dynamic in such a way.”
Williams’ star has been on the rise for many years, having first garnered attention in Christchurch folk band The Unfaithful Ways, before partnering with Delaney Davidson, then Tami Neilson (both former Silver Scroll nominees) on collaborative records.
He released his first solo album in 2015 to much acclaim (including a Silver Scroll finalist spot for his song Dark Child), and significant international attention, before cementing his name as one of New Zealand’s most charismatic singers and songwriters with his second solo album Make Way For Love released earlier this year.
Critically acclaimed musician and songwriter Bic Runga was the music director of the 53rd APRA Silver Scrolls ceremony, which saw a host of other Kiwi songwriters collect awards. The ceremony was hosted by musician and TV host Anika Moa.
Esteemed songwriter Ria Hall, along with co-writers Tiki Taane and Te Ori Paki took the APRA Maioha Award, recognising exceptional waiata featuring te reo Māori, for their rich and heartfelt ballad Te Ahi Kai Pō. The song raises awareness of inter-generational cultural disenfranchisement and draws on Ria’s own family history.
Wellington composer Michael Norris won the SOUNZ Contemporary Award for the second time (his previous win was in 2014 for Inner Phases), with his composition Sygyt for throat singer, chamber ensemble, and live electronics. Sygyt was commissioned by contemporary ensemble Stroma to explore the interesting textures and harmonics of throat singing.
Conrad Wedde, Lukasz Buda, and Samuel Scott, who are best known for their work in The Phoenix Foundation, received the APRA Best Original Music in a Series Award for their nuanced and beautiful soundtrack for Australian TV series Cleverman, a futuristic drama with roots in Aboriginal mythology.
Local luminary David Long (The Muttonbirds, Teeth) won the APRA Best Original Music in a Feature Film Award for his dramatic score for McLaren - the acclaimed documentary about NZ racing driver Bruce McLaren.
Rounding off the evening was the induction of Jenny Morris into the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame, with a wonderful tribute to the trailblazing rock n roll icon from long-time fan Jacinda Ardern, and a performance of Break In The Weather by Ladyhawke.