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South Auckland neo-soul band Mit Eldnar and Nelson singer-songwriter Estella Romagnoli took out the top prizes at this year’s Smokefreerockquest.
The Manurewa High School outfit not only won in the best band category but also picked up the Tangata Beats prize the previous evening.
According to lead guitarist Sonatane Kaufusi, the band is very much a collaborative effort. “We have all helped each other, we have all shared the load with writing songs and arranging them,” he says. “Being in a band, you have somone who smiles at you, and you smile back. You have someone that vibes with you, you’re all vibing.”
Mit Eldnar win $10,000 in musical equipment from the Rockshop, plus an $8,000 recording and music video grant from NZ on Air and a branding package from Imaginary Friends.
The winner of the solo duo category went to Romagnoli from Nelson College for Girls who wins $3,000 in musical equipment from the Rockshop, plus a recording and music video grant from NZ on Air, plus anImaginary Friends branding package. She also won the Lowdown Best Song Award.
The Smokefreerockquest judges this year incuded Six60’s Chris Mac, Dan Barrett from Racing, Anji Sami (She’s So Rad) and ZM content director Ross Flahive.
Chris Mac said Mit Eldnar were the most complete band on the night.“Sonatane is a very impressive frontman,” he says. “You could put these guys on the touring circuit now. Their arrangements were sophisticated and they listened to each other with maturity.”
Sami adds she loved everything about Romagnoli’s performance. “The way she paired vocals and guitar, the conviction of her delivery and the strength of her songs – she had it all.”
Smokefreerockquest have provided the launch pad for a host of top Kiwi artists, including Broods, Kimbra, Aaradhna, Joel Little, Tiny Ruins, Marlon Williams, Brooke Fraser, Anika Moa, Bic Runga and The Naked and Famous.
A total of $22,000 worth of equipment was won by the top bands and solo/duos, alongside the $25,000 already won by contestants at the regional finals.
The full list of winners at the Smokefreerockquest national final was:
1st placed band: Mit Eldnar, Manurewa High School, Manukau
2nd placed band: Suggested Serving Size, Te Awamutu College, Waikato
3rd placed band winning: Silvera, Lynfield College, Auckland
1st placed solo/duo: Estella Romagnoli from Nelson College for Girls
2nd placed solo/duo: Gretel Donnelly, Rangitoto College
MAINZ Musicianship Award: guitarist Alex Cochrane, Bark Like a Dog, Taieri College, Otago
Smokefree Best Vocals Award: Louie Campbell, Silvera, Katikati College
Fatboy Style Award: Sam Cullen, Verdon College, Invercargill
The Lowdown Best Song Award: Estella Romagnoli from Nelson College for Girls
APRA Lyric Award: Danica Bryant from Napier Girls’ High for her song Dizzy
ZM National People’s Choice Award: The Subs, Christ’s College, Canterbury
Rockshop Electronic Performance Award: Gretel Donnelly, Rangitoto College.