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Top 5 finalists announced for the 2023 APRA Silver Scroll Award | Kaitito Kaiaka

Story Published Friday 1 September 2023
The top 5 finalists have been announced for the 2023 APRA Silver Scroll Award | Kaitito Kaiaka

We are excited to announce the Top 5 songs chosen as finalists for the 2023 APRA Silver Scroll Award | Kaitito Kaiaka. The esteemed peer voted award has been a mark of songwriting excellence in Aotearoa for 58 years, and this year’s finalists are all worthy recipients. The winner will be announced at the APRA Silver Scroll Awards on Wednesday 4 October.

Live stream Weds 4th Oct @ 7:30pm NZDT

2023 APRA Silver Scroll Award | Kaitito Kaiaka Top 5

  • Don't Go Back written by Marlon Williams and Mark Perkins, performed by Marlon Williams (Concord Music Publishing)
  • Expert In A Dying Field written by Elizabeth Stokes, Jonathan Pearce, Benjamin Sinclair, and Tristan Deck performed by The Beths (Carpark Music Publishing via Gaga Music PTY LTD)
  • Friday Night @ The Liquor Store written by Tom Scott and Christopher James performed by Avantdale Bowling Club
  • Layla written by Ruban Nielson and Kody Nielson performed by Unknown Mortal Orchestra (Mushroom Music PTY LTD)
  • The Crab / Waterbaby written by Hollie Fullbrook performed by Tiny Ruins (Kobalt Music Publishing)

Aotearoa’s favourite alt-crooner Marlon Williams makes the Top 5 for the fourth time with his sultry track ‘Don’t Go Back’. Having won the APRA Silver Scroll in 2018 with ‘Nobody Gets What They Want Anymore’, this 2023 finalist song is anchored in New Romantic inspired sly grooves and glittery guitar. ‘Don’t Go Back’ was recorded in a house north of Auckland where ruru surrounded the property where Williams was inspired by their deafening hoot and crafted a synth sound that mirrored the birds’ cries, while also singing “Tērā te tangi a te ruru,” (“That’s the cry of the morepork”). The eerie yet dance-inducing track warns nothing good ever happens after midnight, delivered in a knowing, wryly velvet voice by Marlon. 'Don't Go Back' is from Williams’ seventh studio album My Boy, released in September 2022. Watch/listen here.

Don't Go Back - Marlon Williams

Nearly a year since they released their critically acclaimed album, The Beths return to the Top 5 (also for the fourth time) with title track, 'Expert In A Dying Field'. The tight quartet led by frontwoman Elizabeth Stokes, have moulded a pitch -perfect ‘break-up’ song, which ponders the question of what you do with the intimate knowledge you’ve gained of someone else once they leave your life. Peppered with tender observations like ‘love is learned over time’, it captures the shapes and ghosts left in absences, in between ear-worm melodies, 4-part harmonies, and chiming guitars. Watch/listen here.

Expert In A Dying Field - The Beths

One of the most compelling storytellers in New Zealand hip-hop, it’s no wonder Tom Scott was once again voted into the Top 5 this year with ‘Friday Night @ The Liquor Store’. Since debuting Avantdale Bowling Club in 2018, Tom has released some of his finest, most sophisticated works, backed by an unmatched crew of musicians including legendary producer and co-writer Christoph El Truento. 'Friday Night’ comes from their second album TREES, Christoph’s latest album collaboration with Tom since the game-changing @peace records. As Tom does best, 'Friday Night @ The Liquor Store’ paints a familiar local scene, his poetic reflections underpinned by a propulsive jazz groove that envelopes the listener in the narrative. Watch/listen here.

Friday Night @ The Liquor Store

Earlier this year, Unknown Mortal Orchestra fans rejoiced at the announcement of a new album. Following their globally successful album IC-01 Hanoi released in 2018, V was revealed in March this year, a double-record created between California and Hawaii. Listeners were treated to sounds of “West Coast AOR, classic hits, weirdo pop and Hawaiian Hapa-haole music.” Lead single 'Layla’ is the reason Ruban and Kody Nielson are back on the Top 5 list this year having won in 2015 for ‘Multi-Love’. This is their fourth time with a finalist song as UMO, but their eighth under various artist names including The Mint Chicks and Opossom. In an interview with NPR, Ruban explains how the song “is really just about an optimism, or the idea that whatever’s wrong, you can kind of move past it.” Watch/listen here.

Layla - Unknown Mortal Orchestra

Hollie Fullbrook’s eloquent lyrical craft and explorative musicianship are once again on display in her beautifully crafted song ‘The Crab / Waterbaby’ – which sees her taking a finalist spot for the third time. The song is drawn from a time-honoured walk around the coves of Little Muddy Creek aside the Manukau Harbour, inspired by the transcendent comfort of ritual and ceremony that ‘returns you the right way’, to ‘give this day a chance’. With a superlative band made up of Tom Healy, Cass Basil, and Alex Freer, and Hollie’s delicate vocal delivery which pitches this meeting of nature and humanity perfectly, 'The Crab / Waterbaby’ was bound to take a spot on the Top 5 this year. Watch/listen here.

The Crab / Waterbaby - Tiny Ruins


Also announced, are Steph Brown and Fen Ikner aka LIPS as Music Directors for the event. The Music Directors are responsible for all the cover performances throughout the ceremony, with their musical vision giving the night a distinctive spirit. LIPS won the APRA Silver Scroll Award for their song 'Everything To Me' in 2012 and were Top 20 finalists in 2022 for 'Not Today', in 2021 for 'Your Deodorant Doesn’t Work', and in 2020 for 'Guilty Talk'.

Aside from writing wonderful songs as LIPS, Steph and Fen also work across many other varied aspects of our music community, with backgrounds in jazz, pop, theatre and screen composition.

They are planning to bring a wonderfully theatrical perspective to the show, and a great variety of performances and musicians will be involved.

On the night the five Silver Scroll | Kaitito Kaiaka finalists’ songs, as well as the winners of the Tohu Maioha and SOUNZ Contemporary Award – Te Tohu Auaha, are reinterpreted by different artists, bands, and once-in-a-lifetime, one-off collaborations.

Also featured will be special tribute performances to Te Whare Taonga Puoro o Aotearoa | New Zealand Music Hall of Fame inductee Don McGlashan. Don was announced as the 2023 recipient on Thursday 24 August. Read more here.

Alongside the APRA Silver Scroll Award, four other awards will be presented at the private event held at Spark Arena in Tāmaki Makaurau on Wednesday 4 October. The other awards presented on the night are:

  • APRA Maioha Award | Tohu Maioha
  • SOUNZ Contemporary Award | Te Tohu Auaha
  • APRA Best Original Music in a Feature Film Award | Tohu Pūmanawa
  • APRA Best Original Music in a Series Award | Tohu Paerangi

The 2023 APRA Silver Scroll Awards Kaitito Kaiaka are proudly supported by NZ On Air, Te Māngai Pāho, and Hallertau Brewery.