18 Sep 2015

Unknown Mortal Orchestra wins Silver Scroll

9:37 am on 18 September 2015

A psychedelic pop gem written about a first-hand experience in polyamory has taken out the top songwriting prize in New Zealand.

Multi-Love, co-written by Ruban Nielson and his brother Kody, won the APRA Silver Scroll at a ceremony at Auckland's Vector Arena tonight.

The Nielson brothers previously played together in renowned local punk band The Mint Chicks, who had been finalists for the Silver Scroll three times but never won.

Ruban had also made the top five for a previous Unknown Mortal Orchestra song back in 2011.

He recently spoke about the subject matter of Multi-Love, which tackles being in a relationship with multiple lovers.

"Think about the two most serious relationships in your life so far, and then experiencing them simultaneously," he told Pitchfork. "It makes you wonder: How much can a human being deal with emotionally? How well-adjusted are you?"

The event, which is in its 50th year, saw New Zealand's best songwriters come together for the awards. Multi-Love beat out songs from Lorde, Marlon Williams, Anthonie Tonnon and Mel Parsons, who all went head-to-head for the prestigious award.

Also awarded on the night was the "lost scroll" from 1981, which went to The Swingers for Counting The Beat.

At the time of its release, Counting The Beat was the biggest hit of the five finalists and topped charts both in New Zealand and Australia. It's now familiar to many as a popular supermarket jingle.

APRA spokesperson Anthony Healy has said he wasn't sure why the event didn't go ahead in 1981, but that it was a time that marked a watershed moment in New Zealand's history.

New Zealanders will remember 1981 as the year that the country was left divided over the Springbok tour.

"New Zealand was in turmoil and that created an environment ripe for some of the greatest music ever made in this country. We are going to celebrate it," says Healy.

Find more in RNZ's Silver Scrolls collection.

Bill Sevesi, an icon of Pacific music, was also honoured as the 92-year-old was inducted into the NZ Music Hall of Fame. With a career that spans decades, the Tongan-born musician has recorded a huge collection of songs and mentored many local musicians since he started out in the early-1950s.

Other awards given out at the ceremony were the APRA Maioha Award, won by Stan Walker, Vince Harder and Troy Kingi for Aotearoa; the SOUNZ Contemporary Award, won by Chris Watson for sing songs self; the APRA Best Original Music in a Feature Film, won by Grayson Gilmour for Consent; and the APRA Best Original Music in a Series, won by Tom McLeod for Girl vs. Boy (season 3).

Lorde's Royals took out the award for Most Performed New Zealand Work Overseas, while the Most Performed New Zealand work in New Zealand went to Six60 for Special.

A long-running Silver Scroll tradition is also for the songs of the finalists, and the winners of the SOUNZ and Maioha Awards, to be covered by other New Zealand artists.

The cover versions, which were kept secret ahead of the night, saw Warren Maxwell, Louis Baker and Thomas Oliver - who play together as Pass The Gat - perform the Silver Scroll winning song Multi-Love.

The songs eligible for year's awards, as well as the "lost scroll", were chosen by an anonymous panel of judges. The winners were decided by the votes of APRA's 10,000 members, who are made up of local songwriters and composers.

Celebrating fifty years of APRA Silver Scrolls.

Celebrating fifty years of APRA Silver Scrolls. Photo: APRA