SMAC AWARDS 2013
RECORD OF THE YEAR: CLOUD CONTROL – DREAM CAVE
Four years on from Cloud Control’s beloved debut record, hopes were certainly high for Dream Cave. Their sophomore record builds upon the band’s trademark harmonies, adding complexity that leaves you clutching at each song’s meaning, until endless repeat listens leave you drunk with it. It’s been a big year for Cloud Control, with Dream Cave delivered to popular acclaim, a secret headline act at FBi Turns 10, and the release of an unplugged version of the entire album. There’s no denying Cloud Control are already Sydney darlings with a trophy cabinet filled with SMACs – Record Of The Year (2009), Best Live Music Act (2009) and Best Newcomer (2008). Who’s to say they don’t deserve more of our love?
BEST SONG, PRESENTED BY APRA AMCOS: THE PREATURES – IS THIS HOW YOU FEEL?
NEXT BIG THING, PRESENTED BY CAKE WINES: ELIZABETH ROSE
Electronic producer, singer-songwriter and consummate outfit picker, Elizabeth Rose is a woman of many talents. A finalist in FBi’s Northern Lights competition, Rose won us over with her debut EP Crystallise and then um, crystallised the affair with her latest single The Good Life (nominated for Best Song LINK). With a knack for producing contagious, lush electro-pop, it’s Elizabeth’s strong and soaring vocals that really strike an impression. A regular performer at the biggest festivals around the country this year, she’s recently teamed up with Flight Facilities on the delightfully disco-y I Didn’t Believe. It seems like the right kind of people are taking notice of this lady’s undoubted talents – and the only way is up.
BEST LIVE ACT, PRESENTED BY COOPERS: SARAH BLASKO
Where to begin with the sublime songstress that is Sarah Blasko? Four critically-acclaimed albums within a decade, coupled with a dynamic and consistently engaging live show — it’s no wonder that she’s won the hearts and minds of so many music lovers across Australia and abroad. On her recordings, Blasko is an impassioned and affective force, drawing the listener in with her sensitive musical arrangements and poignantly lyricised narratives. On stage, she is an equally, if not more, compelling artist: bringing her compositions and stories to life with gripping realism and restless emotion. Whether she’s playing an acoustic show in a jazz club, or to a thousand-plus festival crowd, Blasko is one of those artists with a unique ability to keep things personal and intimate, crafting an ephemeral spell over her audience and leaving them gasping for more.
BEST MUSIC EVENT: SECRET GARDEN
Imagine a secret place away from the city where you can wear whatever you want and be whoever you want. If your wildest dreams include hidden psychedelic cinemas, Whitney Houston flash mobs and a Glitterton gay bar on a tennis court, Secret Garden is the place where they could all come true! What started as a massive party five years ago to raise money for the Sarah Hilt Foundation has since turned into one of the most successful boutique festivals around Sydney. In an era when music festivals seem to be falling like flies, Secret Garden is only growing stronger. The proof? Tickets for 2014′s festival sold out within hours without even a hint of the line-up.
BEST ARTIST: MIKE HEWSON
Devastating earthquakes shook all stability from the lives of many in Christchurch last year. Mike Hewson filled the ruins with images of life and living in his incredible Homage to Lost Spaces 2012. The work of this civil engineer turned artist – disjointed optical illusions set within the city’s ragged and half-destroyed, ancient architecture – touched the hearts of many, filling the devastating void with his striking images. Since then Hewson has continued playing with scaffolding, making local appearances at The Rocks and Cockatoo Island and masking the entire MCA with “It Holds Up” (in collaboration with Agatha Gothe Snape), exploring installation, mobilisation and stability in the physical, conceptual, metaphorical and literal simultaneously. This guy’s got vision.
BEST ON STAGE: NICK COYLE
Multitalented maestro, Nick Coyle not only banters on your radio every Sunday morning, but he has been writing, directing, performing (and singing with puppets) in shows like the kid-friendly Uh Oh Tony! (Tamarama Rock Surfers). When not preoccupied with puppetry, he dies an hilarious death whilst writing a tribute to his dead friend in Double Tribute (Bondi Feast) and rather than trying to return to Middle Earth, the spell bounding Blue Wizard (PACT Theatre) sees Coyle as an intergalactic gay wizard, trying to return to his comet – giving Dumbledore a run for his money. Wowing local and international stages, this previous SMAC award winner just keeps the quips coming.
BEST ARTS PROGRAM: GOLDEN AGE CINEMA
Golden Age have managed to fill a gap that you didn’t even realise existed in Sydney’s scene. Together with a collective of architects, interior designers, auteurs and furniture makers, they’ve adapted the VIP screening room in the old 1940s Paramount House into a cosy home cinema where they show everything from cult classics to new indie flicks. Settling in with strangers and a film-inspired cocktail feels more like watching a classic on a big couch with your mates. The film program thus far has been pure perfection: a parade of all the weirdest, coolest kids you’ve ever wished you were friends with, finally inviting you to the party.
REMIX THE CITY: ALASKA PROJECTS
In the wild, underground space of a Kings Cross car park, Alaska Projects offers a hidden cultural gem and a well-rounded philosophy that art should be exhibited in unused, isolated or forgotten spaces. The artist-run initiative has brought us visual art, performance and dance, where the artists are presented with a white cube space and then given free reign on how they use and alter it to create immersive environments for their work.
BEST EATS: MARY’S
What’s not to like about a dimly lit bordello of fast food indulgence created by some of the best (and most depraved) people in the Sydney restaurant and bar scene? From bottles of Jack Daniels swinging from the ceiling in the form of upcycled light fixtures, to a seriously smart wine list, and fried chicken to cry to your mama about, Mary’s is the perfect amount of “Fuck it, let’s just make it fun” mixed with the kind of attention to detail you only get when people are seriously awesome at what they do. From proper, sloppy American burgers, to mashed potato and gravy that might need to come with a side of ‘defibrillator’, Mary’s is raucous, unapologetic, and most of all, fun.
SMAC OF THE YEAR: LISA HAVILAH
The 2014 SMAC of the year acknowledges one of our city’s most dynamic and hard-working cultural figures. Lisa Havilah has transformed forgotten places into spaces that push artistic boundaries . She has engaged local communities, connected unlikely groups, and made the arts accessible in every sense of the word. She believes that everyone has something to gain from seeing great art, culture and ideas. After putting Western Sydney firmly on the cultural radar, she turned her attention to Redfern. Since taking on the Artistic Director role at Carriageworks she has connected communities in new ways, bringing a dazzling array of events to our doorstep. She’s a curator, community-builder and taste-maker. Someone unafraid to take risks.