Originality scores well for trio
Blenheim lad Alex Farrell-Davey was so nervous waiting for the winner of this year's smokefreerockquest final to be announced that he wasn't actually sure whose name had been called out.
By the time he figured out his band New Vinyl had won, bandmates Ed Palmer and Allister Meffan were already hugging him.
The Nelson-based acoustic, folk-jazz trio were crowned the 2012 smokefreerockquest champions in Hamilton on Saturday night.
They saw off stiff competition from seven other finalists who, like New Vinyl, had been whittled down from hundreds of secondary school acts around the country.
Two original but quite different songs written by Alex secured the trio first place and $10,000 of instruments from NZ Rockshops and their suppliers. The prize also included an NZ On Air recording grant worth more than $10,000 with a music video to be shown on television.
Alex, 18, grew up in Blenheim and went to both St Mary's and Fairhall schools. He is now a boarder at Nelson College but his parents still live in Marlborough.
He said the finals gig on Saturday night was amazing but one of the most tense moments of his life.
"I almost vomited beforehand," he said. "Watching everybody perform was quite daunting - everybody was so good I thought we weren't going to get anywhere."
The year 13 student thinks the band's unconventional choice of instruments and music style helped secure the win. They play a combination of trumpet, french horn, accordion and cello and guitar.
"I think that adds to our originality, which is what we're going for. We are influenced by people but we don't try and be them. I think the judges picked up on that."
Smokefreerockquest had evolved into a prestigious music competition, Alex said.
"Now you are expected to go on and be a little bit famous."
He is planning a move to Melbourne next year to chase a career in music, which wasn't always in his goals, Alex said.
"My mum was always saying why don't you become a musician or an actor but I was quite negative [about it]," he said.
"She bought me a guitar for my 13th birthday and I cried because I didn't know how to play it. I picked it up again when I was 15 and wrote a song.
"Once that happened I thought this would be cool to do."
With $10,000 of NZ Rockshop vouchers in their pockets, the trio can afford plenty of new instruments. They had a look in one of the shops yesterday. "We were looking at everything and thinking, ‘Yeah, we can buy that'."
- © Fairfax NZ News