Independent Music Awards announced, but questions over being “indie” remain

Remember when Not From There accepted the 1999 ARIA Award for Best Alternative Album by boldly declaring they weren’t alternative in the first place?

Well, it happened again last night at the Jagermeister Independent Music Awards in Melbourne, but this time it was rapper 360 who was eating humble pie. “This doesn’t feel right,” he said after winning yet another gong for his second album Falling & Flying, “but at the same time I’m honoured.”

360 (aka Melbourne emcee Matt Colwell) was of course, referring, to his association with EMI, who distributes his records in partnership with his own label, Soulmate. It once again reiterated just how blurred the line is becoming between “indie” and “major”. (It’s probably worth noting that AIR – the organisation that runs these awards – defines an independent label as a company that is 100 percent Australian, owns the master rights for recorded music and “exploits” it for commercial gain.)

Earlier in the night, a heckler yelled out “not independent” when Lanie Lane went up to accept her award for Best Independent Blues and Roots Album. Her debut album To The Horses was put out through The Ivy League, which despite being distributed through Universal, conforms to AIR’s guidelines to a tee.

The rowdy room fell silent, however, for rising Melbourne star Chet Faker, who performed a “stripped back” version of ‘I’m Into You’ from his debut release Thinking In Textures. Faker was the only multiple winner on the night taking home two awards for Best Independent Single/EP and Breakthrough Independent Artist. His first acceptance speech was unscripted and brief, while his second was more considered. “I’m an idealist,” he told the crowd. “I believe music’s not broken.”

Other winners included The Jezabels, who took home Best Independent Artist for the second year running and Brisbane’s DZ Deathrays, who won Best Independent Hard Rock or Punk Album for their debut album Bloodstreams. Reaffirming the recent success of Australian artists overseas, both bands accepted their awards via video message recorded in Europe and the US, respectively.

Sydney’s Royal Headache were surprise winners in the “hotly contested” Best Independent Album category, beating out the likes of DZ Deathrays, The Jezabels, The Temper Trap and, yes, even 360. The award was accepted by singer Shogun and Nic Warnock from the band’s label, R.I.P. Society. “Leaving all prejudice and punk idealism behind we never had a manager, never chased a show, just did our shit,” Shogun said. “I’m glad you liked it. Thanks. My mum will be stoked.” While Elefant Tracks – the Sydney-based home of Urthboy, The Herd and Best Independent Dance/Electronica Album winners Hermitude – won the inaugural Best Independent Label award.

Performers included Hermitude, Lanie Lane, the shouty House Vs Hurricane, Loon Lake and Paul Kelly, who performed ‘I’m On Your Side’ from new album Spring and Fall. The night was capped off by Tim Rogers and The Bamboos doing ‘I Got Burned’, while emcee Dylan Lewis from those great supporters of Australian independent music NOVA FM reminded us why Recovery needs to return. Stat.

2012 Jagermeister Independent Music Awards winners

Breakthrough Independent Artist – Chet Faker

Best Independent Single/EP – Chet Faker Thinking In Textures

Best Independent Album – Royal Headache Royal Headache

Best Independent Artist – The Jezabels

Best Independent Hip Hop/Urban Album – 360 Falling & Flying

Best Independent Hard Rock or Punk Album – DZ Deathrays Bloodstreams

Best Independent Label – Elefant Traks

Best Independent Dance/Electronica a Club Single – Tom Piper & Daniel Harley LGFU

Best Independent Dance/Electronica Album – Hermitude HyperParadise

Best Independent Blues And Roots Album – Lanie Lane To The Horses

Best Independent Country Album – Jess Ribeiro & The Bone Collectors My Little River

Best Independent Jazz Album – Mike Nock Trio Plus Hear And Know

How it unfolded on Twitter