Acoustic pop wins over rock

Winner: Clara van Wel performing at Smokefreerock on Saturday night.
Anthony Phelps
Winner: Clara van Wel performing at Smokefreerock on Saturday night.

A 14-year-old Blenheim girl singing acoustic pop songs has once again melted the hearts of hardcore rock fans to win the Smokefreerockquest on Saturday night.

Clara van Wel said she felt like an outsider competing at the rock competition despite winning the title last year.

She was thankful to have her best friend waiting in the wings, acting as her backstage crew, for support.

"You just have to put yourself out there and hope they like you," she said. Her job wasn't made any easier performing after Hold On We're Sinking, who had the crowd at the Marlborough Convention Centre dancing and jumping around, Clara said.

The Marlborough Girls' College student played two of her own songs, For A Moment and What Else Is There?

"It's hard to put a genre on your own music but it's probably quite poppy or similar to folk," she said. "But on stage you can't really see the crowd so you can just imagine what's out there."

A member from each band was invited on stage to reveal the winner, she said.

"Of course they do it in that drawn-out fashion to create suspense, which is annoying. Then just as they were about to announce the winner the microphone broke so that added to the suspense."

The former Marlborough Stars in Your Eyes winner was shocked to hear her name called out, she said.

"I thought the novelty of last year would have worn off and I wouldn't win this time. I just thought I'd give it my best shot."

Clara and runners-up Two Brothers get to submit a 15-minute video to the Smokefreerockquest headquarters in a bid to reach the national final of the competition.

Only the top six acts across New Zealand are selected, she said.

People's Choice winners First World Disasters were thrilled with their award.

"The judges are only two people," said band member Mitch Alderlieste. "If you have the audience vote for you, that's pretty cool. We were glad to walk away with the award."

The three-man band was formed especially for Smokefreerockquest, he said.

"We had been practicing since January for that moment and we let it all out. We just rocked it."

First, Clara van Wel

Second, Two Brothers

Third, Eagle v Shark

Women's musicianship, $150 prize: Alex Brown, singer and guitarist from TAME

Musicianship award, with a chance of winning a $4800 tuition scholarship, Thornton Church, drummer for Hold On, We're Sinking

Best song, $100 prize, Lee Stuart

Lyrics award won by Dani and Jack from QCC for Do You Remember.


The Marlborough Express