Last night Tom Scott won the 2019 Taite Music Prize for best album in New Zealand for Avantdale Bowling Club. This is his speech.
Um. Fuck. I’ve lost this thing four times already, I was kind of hoping this would be the fifth because that would be a sick record. Something to be really proud of, and then I’d be the real underdog, but I guess that’s not gonna be the case. But I’m not mad at the people that I lost to, like UMO. Lorde. I reckon youse are gonna be mean if you keep practising. Just keep at it. Stick in there. Only like four more times and youse might win this.
There’s some people that I have to thank but I don’t really know how to use the words to thank them. There’s my girl – I’ve just got here, it says, ‘just freestyle, brackets: don’t cry’, so I’m just gonna probably cry. But I love you darling. You’re the backbone of my whole shit. I wouldn’t be nothing without you, you already know. Thank you for raising our child. I spend two hours with that dude I’m like ‘mmmm na na na that’s enough’. You do that all day and that kid like, he looks like he knows who he is and he has confidence because of you. So thank you for that.
To my old lady, to my mum – shot for teaching me how to be a man. I understand now that raising a boy is fucking hard so, that’s my karma. I want to thank you for that.
I want to thank everyone that helped make this record. I want to thank everyone that bought this record. Anyone that bought any of my records. Anyone that ever helped fund this record – New Zealand On Air, Work and Income New Zealand On Air. Marijuana. Anyone else that helped fund this record.
I want to thank my manager. This lady – I can’t say enough about this lady – Lorraine Barry. Make some noise for Lorraine. This lady used to be the international marketing manager for the Spice Girls at Virgin Records. And now, she’s in Napier. And I’m texting her like ‘there’s no Hennessy on the rider.’ You gotta give credit to this lady for putting up with me. Honestly.
I want to thank Dylan Taite, Dylan Taite’s family and I want to thank all the Dylan Taites out there that need their flowers now, all the journalists that work hard to give people like me a platform and to show love to people like me, and to people like you.
I want to thank everyone that helped make this record behind the scenes. It goes sort of unrecognised. The people at Red Bull are really family to me. Sure, DRM, Soren, Josie, BFM, Radio New Zealand. Everyone. They were on that thing before.
I think I want to dedicate this record to all the unheard, undervalued musicians. People like my pops. Cause my pops he taught me how to be an artist, like, he made it acceptable for me to be an artist. You know, you were always broke, but you always had real nice bread. Like he had the ciabatta with the olives right next to the eviction notice. My mum was like ‘no, we’re having home brand baked beans every night,’ my dad was like ‘na I’m splurging, I just got paid’, and he was just proud to be an artist and proud to be a musician – and he’s still a musician. You know? Cause youse might relate, you know? You don’t know how many times I have to lie to the cab driver about what I do, you know? People ask you what do you do and you’re like ‘…..’ like ‘oh yeah, what do you do?’ and it’s like ‘…..jazzy poetry stuff’. You know?
But my pops made me proud; he said when he came to New Zealand from Brixton, he loved the way that Māori people would first ask you not ‘what do you do?’ but they’d ask you ‘where are you from?’ Because to me the underlying question with ‘what do you do?’ is ‘what social value do you have to me? How do you compare to me?’ But when you ask someone where are you from, that’s when you get the real conversation.
And I think that’s what this record is about. Where are you from? And where I’m from is a place called Avondale. You know? And I’m still there. And I’m still there. And I’m proud of that place. I’m proud of that place. Because in that place we all get along, we all get along, it’s like some fucking template for utopia and don’t take this as a fucken means to come gentrify it, no, no, no, I’m not inviting you. It’s a lovely place but please don’t move in, you’re making our rent higher. But I’m proud to be from there and it’s not patriotism, it’s not nationalism, it’s not even pride but I’m proud, you know? Because where I’m from people get along. They really do. And you know, they don’t hate each other over some bullshit. And yeah you might get punched in the face for some basketball shoes. To be honest I’ve been punched in the face for some basketball cards, but they were ultra flairs, ‘95, Grant Hill rookie card.
But my point is, generally people get along. And they tolerate each other. And that’s something we can’t really say about this country. So I just want to acknowledge we’re still on stolen land. I just want to acknowledge that we’re still lucky to be babysitting it. I just want to acknowledge that native people in this country are still owed a lot, they probably should have won the fucking Taite instead of me, to be honest with you the Polynesian people that make the music that I make, they deserve this prize more than me, and I just want to say I’m honoured to be part of this experiment that we call Aotearoa. And I just want to say that I’m going to keep working at it, and we should all keep working at it like it was our magnum opus. So thank you for the acknowledgement.
The Spinoff Weekly compiles the best stories of the week – an essential guide to modern life in New Zealand, emailed out on Monday evenings.