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Schoolgirl duo living the dream

Nelson teens set for rockquest finals

NAOMI ARNOLD
Last updated 12:58 19/08/2014
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ALDEN WILLIAMS/FAIRFAX NZ
IT'S A YES: Livvy Nott, left, and Anna Robinson are the sole Nelson finalists in this year’s national Smokefreerockquest.

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Two friends in their final year at high school are in the running for a shot at a Smokefreerockquest title.

Anna Robinson, 17, and Livvy Nott, 18, as ELAE, are the only finalists from the Nelson region this year, and the year 13 students spent a jittery lunchtime at Richmond McDonald's last week as they waited to find out if they'd got in. The finalists were announced via rockquest's Facebook status.

"Usually I always get a Quarter Pounder but this time I just got a hot chocolate and Livvy got a raspberry and Coke because we were too nervous to eat anything," Anna said.

Unfortunately, the free wi-fi wasn't working, so they ripped through Livvy's 3G data, refreshing Facebook over and over again, waiting for it to be updated. "We couldn't scream or anything so we just kind of went ‘oooooh' and smiled and hugged each other and kept staring at the names," Livvy said.

"It's incredible. I don't think the feeling has really sunk in yet," Anna said. "It feels quite surreal."

Now the pair will be busy choosing two of their songs to perform and sorting their stage outfits for the finals, in Auckland on September 27 - as well as juggling schoolwork and sports tournaments.

The pair got through in the second-chance round after failing to win the regional competition, submitting a video with three songs on it.

ELAE (pronounced "LA") competed last year under the name Livvy & Anna, and won the Nelson regional final for solo duo, then making it into the top 10 and receiving a highly commended award.

Anna said Garin College music teacher Kyle Proffit had been "incredible" and had helped them get over their performance nerves.

"Honestly, he has been so supportive of me and Livvy. He got us started and always wants to see us succeed."

The pair write their songs individually and then collaborate to get the sound they want.

"We're so comfortable around each other that we find it easy to throw ideas on the table."

Livvy is the younger sister of Broods' Caleb and Georgia Nott, and Anna said the rising stars helped them a lot with their music, offering support and linking to their videos on social media. ELAE opened for Broods at their concert in Nelson this year.

"They are an inspiration. They show that the impossible can be done," Anna said.

Livvy said watching her older brother and sister achieve the remarkable gave them extra motivation. "They just say they're really proud of us and keep going."

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There were just on 700 entries in New Zealand's largest nationwide, original youth music event, with contenders going forward from 23 regional finals to play off at the national final in Auckland on September 27.

The finalists were judged by singer-songwriter Anna Coddington, Jeff Newton from NZ on Air, Jared Wrennall from legendary band Steriogram and Four Live television producer Damien Daniels.

Coddington, who was in the winning Smokefreerockquest band in 1998, said she was blown away by the standard, which crossed a variety of musical genres.

"I tried to think back to when I was a teenager but I'm sure these kids are a lot more sophisticated than when I was at school. Their songwriting was so good . . . a lot of them sounded like radio-ready, complete and well-finished songs," she said.

"Another thing that was great to see was the strong performances from females, really shredding their guitars, which maybe shows a shift in attitude . . . perhaps they're encouraged more now."

- The Nelson Mail

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