Aria awards 2015 with Tame Impala, Tina Arena and Ed Sheeran – as it happened

Last modified: 12: 08 PM GMT+0

Who’s going home with an Arias pyramid and what on earth was Jessica Mauboy wearing on the red carpet? These questions answered and more from Australia’s music night of nights

Tame Impala win album of the year

Courtney Barnett might have “stolen” the Triple J award from Tame Impala (according to disgruntled Impala fans), but the band takes the top Aria award – their third of the night.

“You’re all sick of seeing us, sorry, I’ll make this quick,” says local genius Kevin Parker as he takes to the stage.

He thanks, among other people, his girlfriend Soph for telling him “when songs are cool and when songs need some work”.

Guitarist and vocalist Cam Avery says “I think I’ve said enough”, then reassesses and adds, “Long live the Fremantle football club. Next year is our year.”

It’s nice to be reminded that Tame Impala is more than just Kevin Parker.

“Thanks for having us, and everyone had a great night,” says Avery. “Let’s get crunk.”

And with that, we’re going to get crunk at the after party. These were the biggest winners of the night, you can also check out our full list of winners and our gallery of best and worst dressed:

  • Tame Impala won three awards tonight, including album of the year
  • Courtney Barnett also won three awards, including best female artist
  • Other winners included Vance Joy (best male artist), Jarryd James (best pop release), Conrad Sewell (song of the year)
  • Tina Arena was inducted into the Aria hall of fame, and performed her song Chains with the help of the Veronicas and Jessica Mauboy
  • Matt Okine pointed out the lack of female nominees when he won best comedy release

Good night, and see you next year!

Winning at the #ARIAs can really change your life.

— Brendan Maclean (@macleanbrendan) November 26, 2015


Conrad Sewell sings a Kygo’s Firestone and Start Again medley, which is quite good, but reiterates my earlier point that with the exception of the Veronicas-Mauboy-Arena collaboration, all the performances have been by blokes – mainly white ones.

In the second half of the performance, images of the Eiffel Tower appear on the projectors. Presumably it’s acknowledging the recent Paris attacks, but without any context or explanation, it’s a bit jarring.


One Direction best international artist

The nominees for best international artist are a fairly grim assessment of the state of modern music: Calvin Harris, Ed Sheeran, Foo Fighters, James Day, Mark Ronson, Meghan Trainor, One Direction and Taylor Swift. You would not know, from this array, that there were people of any ethnicity other than white making popular music, but that tends to be par for the course for awards shows.

That said, tonight’s Arias have seemed particularly whitebread. I’ve struggled to tell the male singer-songwriters who have performed apart from one another, and the presenters and video bits have been by and large banal.

The truly interesting, challenging appearances have been in the media room, from Tina Arena and Matt Okine and even Alexander Gow, who spoke a bit like he was on some strong painkillers but also in a way I hadn’t heard before.

One Direction win best international act for the fourth consecutive year.

Oh my gosh @onedirection just won an Aria for Best International Artist FOUR YEARS IN A ROW I can't even #ARIAs

— 5SOS + 1D fan acc (@shaypetrova) November 26, 2015

Even Harry Styles, in a wooden video cross-flanked by his three stony-faced colleagues, seems a bit incredulous at that statistic.

And I like One Direction.

(By the way, it was eight months ago today that Zayn quit.)

#new The boys accepting their best international artist award at the #ARIAs #MTVStars one direction

— One Direction Update (@the1Dscene) November 26, 2015


5 Seconds of Summer win best Australian live act

5SOS has been named the best Australian live act. They appear in a video message in front of two Australian flags and next to Benji and Joel Madden, for some reason. It is gratifying to see the good men of Good Charlotte still dress exactly as they did in their music videos in the late 2000s.

5SOS talk about performing at the Annandale Hotel in Sydney back when they were starting out. The journalist behind me says, rather loudly, that he thinks this story is entirely made up.

Not a bad way to end the year when it started like so:

Won the NME worst band award. I'm so damn happy right now. thx to everyone who voted 😍😍 #dreamscomingtrue

— Michael Clifford (@Michael5SOS) February 19, 2015


Vance Joy wins best male artist

Vance Joy beats #1 Dads, Daniel Johns, Guy Sebastian and Jarryd James for best male artist. “Geez, I’m shaking,” he says, thanking all his band mates and management team. “Thanks to everybody who listens to Australian music.”

In the media room he talks about feeling trepidation before opening for Taylor Swift on her North American tour (the Australian leg begins on Saturday), and what he learned from her. Meeting Julia Roberts at one of her shows was an unexpected highlight, he says.

I’m more interested to learn that he’s apparently at the level of fame where a hotel once embroidered his name on to a pillow.

Tame Impala, all five of them, pile on to the sofa for a chat about their success tonight. Along with Courtney Barnett, they’ve been the big winners, to an extent that seems to have surprised even them. Cam Avery expresses regret that the Preatures – who were sitting next to them – didn’t win an award because they would have “brought steez to the ceremony”.

Another member of Tame Impala suggests that he should have “Kanye’d himself”, referring to Kanye’s infamous interception of Taylor Swift at the VMAs however many moons ago that was.


Courtney Barnett wins best female artist

Rove MacManus presents Courtney Barnett with the award for the best female artist.

“I’m holding your award, but what would you like to say?” MacManus says.

“Don’t drop it,” she jokes.

Her speech from London in the small hours after she’s finished a gig, is charming. She thanks people for supporting her music in a way that’s no less sincere for its matter-of-factness, she thanks her cat Bubbles, she thanks her girlfriend. As much as I don’t like Ed Sheeran as a public personality, I like Courtney Barnett.

With a tip of the hat to the rest of the nominees, she says “the world needs art and music so thank you for supporting and being a part of it”.

For more on the star of the night, read Dorian Lynskey’s interview with Barnett in the Guardian from March this year:


RÜFÜS win best dance release

The boys win for You Were Right and send a video message from London dedicating their award to DJ Ajax (who else remembers those hedonistic Bang Gang parties in Sydney’s Kings Cross?), and who sadly died in a traffic accident.

Full list of winners here, which we’re updating as the night goes.


No, the Arias don’t air all the awards presented in the show (otherwise it would go for five, painful hours). But it’s a shame they chose not to air Matt Okine’s winning speech for best comedy release, in which he uncomfortably (for the Arias and industry bigwigs, anyway) pointed out the lack of women among the nominees.

Read our full news story to find out more.

Matt Okine wins best comedy & makes the point there wasn't a single woman nominated. It's 2015. Nervous silence from the power seats #ARIAs

— Bernard Zuel (@BernardZuel) November 26, 2015


Tame Impala win best rock album

Kevin Parker and co pick up their second Aria of the night. Parker is genuinely surprised this award wasn’t given to Courtney Barnett.

Meanwhile James Blunt is in fine form, grinning like a Cheshire cat, pronouncing every word very loudly and pointing the air furiously. He describes Ed Sheeran as “the ginger ninja, the Pom with the big shlong” before giving him the new Aria diamond award, acknowledging the shiz ton of records he has sold in Australia.

Sheeran says he’s aware the award was created to lure him to the event, and I am not sure if he is joking.

In his speech, Sheeran says a bunch of – my take – lacklustre things, like on his music selling in Australia: “I barely have to do any promo here and it goes well” and the “weird interviews” Australian radio stations conduct: “every time I do a phoner, I am always scared to do it”.

He also started thanking people on other people’s behalves. (The best bit was when he said “happy wife, happy life” (quoting someone else). Who will Sheeran take as a wife?)

The one person he did not thank was Gabrielle Jackson, Guardian Australia’s comment editor, who saw him perform at the Old Queen’s Head in Islington in “about 2009”. She told me that she went up after the show to buy a CD, but they were sold out, and to tell him that he was “so frat” and that he was “gonna be huge”. She was unable to tell me what she meant by “frat”.


Tina Arena and Kylie Minogue are met with applause as they enter the media room for a photo opp. Kylie is set upon by media and photographers, then whisked away as Arena is directed to the couch to talk some more.

She notes that Ed Sheeran is still performing on the television broadcast. “We were doing the red carpet, and then all of a sudden there’s zzz, like a swarm of bees, and it was him,” she says. “He attracts an enormous amount of attention for a little man.”

Arena speaks eloquently and stridently about being a “precocious” child, the Paris attacks, the pressures and pitfalls of the entertainment industry for older women. Being politically correct has only got us so far, she says, when we all think in different ways. She is an articulate and thoughtful and uncompromising interviewee.

Veronica Mauboy, Kylie Minogue and the Veronicas join her in the media room for a photo opp. I am avoiding eye contact with the Veronicas because they will be able to tell that I remain loyal to 4ever and by extension Max Martin.


Tina Arena inducted into the Aria Hall of Fame

Tina Arena continues her epic, time-and-space-spanning speech in the same tone of voice that Galadriel uses when she’s hypnotised in that Lord of the Rings film. She uses the speech to discuss music piracy, gender equality and the state of Australian music on commercial radio. “Radio please don’t try and meet your Australian quotas because you have to, exceed them because you really want to.”

She ends her speech holding back tears. “Thank you Australia for not making me a celebrity,” she says. “Thank you for celebrating my work.”

In the mean time the Veronicas pop into the media room. They speak to the influence of Tina, Kylie and female-fronted bands like the Divinyls on their ten-year career. “We definitely feel that they paved the way for us,” says the Veronica wearing a bustier.

“It’s been an interesting journey, it’s a very political industry. ... but we have experienced the high sides of that, too,” she says.

In joining her sister on the couch, the high-neck top Veronica knocks over their Aria award. At home she says they use it as a doorstop.

My question is the only question from media.

“I wonder if you can settle a bet for me,” I say. “Which is the best song: 4ever, or Untouched?”

Bustier Veronica responds without missing a beat as though it is a question that she too has been turning over her mind for years. “We’re going to say Untouched because we wrote that one ... Max Martin wrote 4ever, and he’s amazing, but we wrote Untouched. And it was the bigger hit.”

The “so there” is implicit; the “sorry” stated, but perhaps insincere.

Fair play!

(But they’re wrong.)


Tina Arena, the Veronicas and Jessica Mauboy cover Chains

Holy moly! The Veronicas (Lisa and Jessica Origliasso), Jessica Mauboy and Tina Arena just performed Arena’s blockbuster 1994 hit Chains. They all seem to be really enjoying themselves, and there’s plenty of spark between the four of them.

Kylie Minogue, who looks somehow both ageless and definitely younger than me, takes to the stage to induct Tina Arena into the hall of fame. “When she sang Macarthur Park, I for once couldn’t believe how this little girl was singing such a huge song.”

I hope Arena performs Macarthur Park next because I never get tired of hearing the couplet about leaving the cake out in the rain.

But before she performs, a voiceover presents a potted history of Arena of the kind that I have always felt must be weird to observe while you are still alive.


The Veronicas win best video

The Veronicas win best video for alt-ballerina tragedy clip You Ruin Me, directed by Matt Sharp and Daniel James. “This award means so much to us because it was voted for by our fans,” an Origliasso says.


Celebrating the #ARIAs with two legends @kylieminogue and @tins arena

— ARIA (@ARIA_Official) November 26, 2015

Lee Kernaghan wins outstanding achievement award

Lee Kernaghan picks up outstanding achievement award for Spirit of the Anzacs. The album marked the 100th anniversary of the Anzac landing at Gallipoli. Here’s the titular single from the album:


CW Stoneking wins best blues and roots album

Best blues and roots album goes to CW Stoneking for his album Gon’ Boogaloo, a 1930s-inspired LP recorded old-school style on a single ribbon microphone. The 41-year-old bluesman – who famously snubbed a collaboration with Jack White – is not here tonight to pick up the award, but let’s be honest, his Brylcreemed hair never would have survived the heat on the red carpet.


Oh Mercy win best adult contemporary album

There’s something so daggy, so “has-been” sounding about the name of this prize – “best adult contemporary album” – and it certainly fails to do justice to the calibre of artists nominated this year (John Farnham & Olivia Newtown-John, Megan Washington, Oh Mercy, Paul Kelly and Szymon).

They’re a motley bunch (we’d just love to see what the moody indie types from Oh Mercy would have to say to Farnsy and Olivia at a dinner party), but there’s some strong contenders here: Aria Hall of Famer Paul Kelly took the gong last year for his collaboration with Neil Finn, so it’s only right he’s overlooked this time round. Megan Washington is far too good for this country, with her sophomore 2014 album There There an overlooked masterpiece; nothing short of making her a dame (bring it back, Malcolm!) will make up for the snubbing she’s received by Australian radio.

Oh Mercy take home the gong tonight, to widespread surprise. Everyone’s money was on Szymon Borzestowski, whose posthumous release Tigersapp is an astonishingly gorgeous collection of timeless folktronic. Tragically, in December 2012, at the age of 23, the Newcastle multi-instrumentalist took his own life. He had been on the cusp of completing his collection of songs for EMI, when in the throes of depression, he began destroying his audio files and hard drives and giving away his instruments. Three years after his death, the music that could be salvaged was released by EMI as Tigersapp. Szymon’s younger brother, Dominik, who plays drums with Sydney band Gang of Youths, is in the audience tonight, along with the rest of Szymon’s family.

Here’s a taste of Szymon’s greatness:

Backstage in the media scrum, Oh Mercy’s Alexander Gow is asked how it feels to be classified as “adult contemporary”.

“I feel like it’s the end of my sex life, unless someone here would like to have sex with the winner of the adult contemporary album,” he says.

I volunteer, not with any particular enthusiasm but because he seems genuinely a bit sad, and though I was speaking at above-average volume and in the front row of the reporters he either did not hear or pretended not to.

A photographer crawls on his belly in front of the stage Gow is sitting on to snap a picture; Gow pulls up his pants to show off his socks.

He has spent some time in the United States, he tells the gathered media – particularly Nashville. “I saw fireflies for the first time there and I thought I was maybe dying when I saw them.”

After Matt Okine’s rally cry for action against gender inequality/canvassing the room for input on to his potential vegetarianism, so far it feels like every award winner has sort of given up on giving normal acceptance speeches, which is at least entertaining.

“I’m going to make love to this award,” announces Gow, holding the pointy Aria aloft. “Somebody’s going to have to call AA, because it’s going to be a bloody mess.”


Courtney Barnett wins breakthrough artist and best independent release

Courtney Barnett, nominated for eight awards, has already won two tonight: breakthrough artist and best independent release. She’s in London, and did not send through a video message (“Unlike last year’s no-show winner Sia”, says the AAP wires copy – somewhat pointedly?).

If she wins any more of the categories she’s nominated in (which – my take – she should, because she’s great), the hosts might be presented with a challenge.

In her absence, enjoy her latest vid:


Jarryd James wins best pop release

Jarryd James is announced winner of best pop release for Do You Remember. The other nominees were Conrad Sewell, Sia, Tame Impala and Vance Joy.

“Did I just beat Tame Impala? And they just beat AC/DC?” James asks in his acceptance speech, evoking a string of Aussie-rocker Russian dolls, Tame Impala absorbing the power of AC/DC, being swallowed up by the softly-spoken James. (I think I have mild heat exhaustion.)

James admits that he is “so terrible at talking”, then thanks George Michael, then talks about getting sweat on his iPhone screen, in case we hadn’t believed him on the first point.


Matt Okine wins best comedy release

Matt Okine, the comedian formerly known as Drake, wins best comedy release for his set recorded at Enmore Theatre.

He uses his speech to highlight how there wasn’t a single woman nominated in the category. “I didn’t feel great reading that list of people.”

He later told reporters he felt “silly” about his speech.

“Now I feel silly and judged about it ... but I feel like, what am I supposed to do? Be passive about it? [Speaking up] is absolutely necessary.”

“I think a lot of guys my age, you think you’re doing enough by not doing anything bad. I don’t hit women, I don’t discriminate.”

He said White Ribbon Day, which is dedicated to raising awareness around family violence, had him wondering if he was doing enough. “[Rugby Union player] David Pocock chains himself to a tree. What am I doing? I’ve got to start [doing something].”

He is also thinking of taking up vegetarianism. The interviewer refers to his “existential crisis”. It’s an odd bit after winning an award, especially best comedy release.

A reporter asks him what he suggests we do. “That’s like asking me how to win the game when I’ve just picked up the controller.”

He also says if he doesn’t get asked back to the Arias, “that’s fine”.


Former Wiggles beats current Wiggles

The broadcast version cuts out some of the awards, including best comedy release. Which, notably, had winner Matt Okine say some strong words about the lack of women on the nominee list. That coming up next on the blog – even if not on the show.

Former Wiggle Sam Moran wins best children’s album – his first solo Aria.

“This means more than you could ever imagine,” he tells the audience. “The last few years have been very hard and I must confess I did fantasise about what I might say should I be up here.

“But standing up here now I realise ... I don’t need to feel those things anymore.”

After his speech, which goes on for quite a long time and gets quite emotional, the nominees are politely reminded to keep any thank-yous short.

Tame Impala win best group

Tame Impala beat out 5 Seconds of Summer (who appeared by video from LA in their PJs), Hermitude, AC/DC, and the Preatures to win best group.

“Wow, did we just beat AC/DC at something? Is that a thing? And the Preatures, for that matter?” frontman Kevin Parker said.

The award is followed by Peking Duk with a live performance of their smash hit Take Me Over feat SAFIA.


Ed Sheeran awards Conrad Sewell song of the year

With the jarring difference between the event and the television broadcast, the awards are now halfway through. The winners are pausing for a 45-minute dinner break, and I’m now tapping away on an iPad behind a velvet rope in the media room.

The show begins with an address from noted redhead Ed Sheeran, on stage to present the song of the year award and, later, to perform.

“This is my first-ever Arias, I’ve heard good things so let’s do it.” Literally, that’s what he says.

It’s a bit disappointing, and a big reduction in enthusiasm from Sheeran since he was quoted in the press release announcing him as this year’s international guest: “I’ll see you at the Arias, I’ve never been to the Arias, I’ve wanted to go every single year, so this is quite exciting”.

For someone who has been apparently itching to attend the pre-eminent celebration of the Australian music industry in all of the nearly three decades it’s been happening, and has now achieved that goal while at the apex of his career, he’s playing it cool.

“There’s a lot of competition,” Sheeran says of the nominees.

Conrad Sewell wins song of the year for Start Again.

He beat his younger sister Grace, along with Iggy Azalea, Jarryd James, Marlisa, Nathaniel, Peking Duk, Sia, the Veronicas and Vance Joy for the publicly voted award.

“I just wasn’t expecting any of this,” Sewell told reporters. “This is the best night of my life.”

He also said he was lucky to grow up in a creative household. “My mum wasn’t the normal tuck shop mum. We would watch the Grammys together instead of doing homework,” he said.

Host Osher Günsberg kicks off the show

Osher Günsberg, aka Andrew G, aka the Man with the Best Hair in Australia has started the show. First performer on stage is Vance Joy with Fire and the Flood. How is this man so dreamy on stage, but take it from me, such a vanilla interviewee?

Kylie Minogue with a bunch of random people.

Arias broadcast begins on Channel Ten

If you’re just tuning in you can finally switch on Channel Ten because the Arias 2015 red carpet coverage has just started (not exactly live, but broadcast a couple of hours after they happened).

Then again, listening to the fawning dross of hosts Angela Bishop, Scott Tweedie, Joel Creasey and Olivia Phyland, maybe just wait for the show at 8pm. (“What do the Arias mean for fashion?” “[insert ad for David Jones here]”.)

Here’s a picture of Kylie Minogue and Tina Arena not at all looking like two rival high school queen bees.

Arena is being inducted into the Aria hall of fame this year. Minogue was inducted three years earlier. Not that it’s a competition. But if it was ...


We politely decline a red carpet interview with Rhys Muldoon, nominated for best children’s album, but he nonetheless asks where we’re from. The Guardian, we say.

“God bless you!” he replies, which is nice.

He tells us that he loves the “rice paper” international edition, and that it was once “the most popular paper in New Guinea, because people were using it for smokes”.

This seems unlikely and we promise to fact-check it.

The first indication that Ed Sheeran is here is the screams of “ED”. I can’t get anywhere near Sheeran, who is hemmed in by broadcast media, visible to me only as a spot of orange on the horizon, like a sunset. So I nip across the road to have a chat to his fans, making far mor noise than their numbers would suggest.

The four girls, all 14, are all pupils in Hunters Hill, and still wearing their uniforms. They came to The Star “straight away” after school and had been here for just 30 minutes before Sheeran showed up.

At this point I have been standing in 36C heat for more than two hours. I congratulate them on their timing – both of their arrival and their shouts of “Ed”. They talk in unison a lot.

He waved back, once – “and I recorded it, but then I somehow deleted it”, says one.

You’ll have the memory, I suggest.

“It’s all about memories,” they say.

Another asks me if 5 Seconds of Summer have appeared on the red carpet yet, and I have to tell them that 5SOS are, in fact, in Los Angeles. They take it in their stride.

“OK. All right.”

They love Ed, they tell me. Why, I ask. I am genuinely interested.

“His songs are the best.”

“They’re deep, but it seems like he really means them.”

They are not Taylor Swift fans, which makes me uncomfortable, which makes them comfortable. We meet in the middle with our shared appreciation of One Direction and Justin Bieber.

But they’ll take their photo opportunities where they come. “They’re all celebrities, they’re all awesome people, we’re not against any of them.”

“We just kind of take any chance we get to meet people we love.”


The throngs of celebs filling the red carpet are starting to ease and there are plenty who haven’t come our way.

In particular, it’s grating to have missed the Veronicas (Lisa and Jessica Origliasso), who I wanted to weigh in on an enduring debate: the superiority of 4ever, their 2005 hit, over 2007’s Untouched.

To me, it’s clear that 4ever is the better song, but a Twitter poll I ran earlier today suggests there are still some people who are wilfully obtuse or without ears.

Depending on how much stock you put in authorial intent, I’d been hopeful that a red carpet chat might have been enough to settle the matter. But neither Lisa nor Jessica were anywhere to be seen :(


Peking Duk are nominated for best dance release and the publicly voted song of the year (for Take Me Over feat SAFIA), but we don’t talk about that, after another reporter tries to talk to them about Game of Thrones. Neither Reuben Styles nor Adam Hyde have seen it but they nobly attempt to reference it with authority, which is something everyone who’s ever been on the outside of a work social occasion can relate to.

I ask them what television Peking Duk have managed to keep up with. “I’ve been going back to The Wire,” says Hyde. “Stringer Bell, what a character.” He has not yet got to season two, and I don’t want to let him down.

He tries to tell me that an apparently forthcoming television show called Plain Clothes Policeman In Dog Uniform is “going to bang”, then he tells me that I “look lovely”, then that his goal for the evening is to “try to become a trophy husband” to some older person.

I suggest Kylie Minogue. He is blown away by the idea.

“When it happens, you get to be the best lady,” says Styles.

“Deal,” says Hyde.

The highlight of the year for Peking Duk was performing at Lollapalooza and Coachella, “festivals that we’d only ever read about on the old interwebz”, says Hyde.

“Festivals that we’d dreamed of just going to as punters,” says Styles.

Neither of them can speak very authoritatively about who headlined either event. “Lolla had, like, Paul McCartney ... ”

“Paul McCartleth!”

“Pauleth McCartleth...”

Somehow we end up talking about Drake again, and I own up to being an admin of a Facebook fan group, a fact that I do not often own up to “in real life”, and they are kind of weirded out by it, but not in an unpleasant way.

Do I have a crush on Peking Duk?


Amy and Emma Sheppard are wearing matching above-the-knee boots in the style of dragons, complete with rigid, rubber tongue. As you do.

Amy identifies them as the creation of Jamie Lee, a Perth designer. “We’re excited to be wearing them,” she says.

Being able to coordinate outfits is one of the benefits of having a sister, she tells me, which is something I have not considered before, and I have two sisters.

After having won big with their hit Geronimo at last year’s Arias, tonight will be a bit more relaxing for the seven piece. They are presenting an award and nominated for best Australian live act.


David Le’aupepe, the charismatic heart-on-sleeve frontman for Gang of Youths, is the most exuberant muso on the red carpet this afternoon, hugging journalists, getting down on bended knees to chat to Guardian Australia (I’m not that short, am I?) and looked genuinely chuffed to be here.

He’s had the most remarkable year. A year and a half ago – as documented in the band’s hit single Magnolia – he hit rock bottom, with a botched suicide attempt following the end of his marriage to a woman with terminal cancer. Le’aupepe was battling a drug and alcohol problem and manic depression, and while his band (four best friends who met as youths at Sydney’s Hillsong Church) was taking off in Australia and in the US, Le’aupepe was slipping under, fast.

How does it feel, a year and a half after that episode, to be standing on a red carpet with five Aria nominations?
I’m dangling on the precipice of sanity still but I’m more in touch with my inner self than my outer self, if that makes sense.

But does it feel good?
It feels electric. My parents [are happy about it].

You’ve got a pretty cool background – a Samoan dad and a Jewish mum. Which one are you feeling more today?
My neurosis is coming through so definitely my Jewish side.

Your album, The Positions, was inspired by your very tragic relationship. You said in a recent interview that for inspiration for the next record you’re “still hunting for some great tragedy to befall me”. Maybe it could happen tonight?Tonight, I’m hoping that the great tragedy is replaced by the great triumph.

What are you going to do after the ceremony tonight?
I’m going to go home and read Proust, nah, I might party. I’ll consider partying if you party. I’m going to hug you. [Hugs me.] Lovely to meet you.


The Preatures stalk our way.

Isabella Manfredi, looking every bit the Patti Smith-esque frontwoman in a white shirt with billowing sleeves and dramatic make-up, looms over much of the media. “I don’t like looking down on you,” she says to the reporter next to me.

The band is nominated for three awards tonight: best group, best rock album and the publicly voted best Australian live act. After three years of fairly relentless touring, the one that they’re hanging out for is that last one.

“It’s sort of like when you’re a body builder and you get to that peak point and you’re like, I look really good,” says Jack Moffitt. “We sort of feel like we’ve hit that stride. You want somebody to take a photo of that moment, and you’ve got it forever.”

My remark that, at last year’s Arias, the Preatures were coming up to touring with the Rolling Stones, prompts a general murmur of surprise at the passage of time amongst the band.

When I refer to the Rolling Stones as “the greatest rock act there’s ever been”, more out of nervousness than any academic assessment, there’s a pause.

“It would have been nice to get that AC/DC slot,” says Isabella.

One issue that the band, as a unit, feel strongly about is the lock-out laws in New South Wales, which took effect in 2014; it’s the subject of their song, Rock and Roll Rave and something they discussed in an earlier interview with Guardian Australia.

I ask Isabella whether she’s noticed the difference in the venues the Preatures play. “A lot of venues have closed,” she says. “I think the Cross needed an overhaul of some kind, because it was gross, but ... it’s just not very efficient for the economy. It’s not right and just to the community, especially the music community, which is very separate.

“I think they’ve treated the whole nightlife culture as one, ubiquitous culture and not really understood – or bothered to understand – that they’re very much subcultures.”

Jack says Australia has “an ingrained drinking problem, and a problem with violence”; Isabella agrees.

“I think something has to give a little bit deeper down the line. It’s not so much about symptomatic treatment of a particular thing, and that gets into a lot of things. It’s hard to cut the head off that problem.”

As articulate and thoughtful as Isabella and Jack are on the issue, talking about “addictive personalities” and “the invisible demon” and “release” seems a bit at odds with the occasion.

“Maybe it’s just a gateway and you don’t notice until your friends don’t call you anymore and something in your life has shifted and it’s happened so slowly that you didn’t recognise it,” says Jack. “We’re all touched by it in some way.”

An anti-alcohol lobby group needs to sign this guy up as a spokesman, stat.

Tame Impala are up for seven Aria awards tonight. I ask frontman Kevin Parker, whose band has had a massive year and overseas success, if he feels as though he has outgrown Australia yet. “Not at all. My anticipation for an event like this just proves that. If I rocked up here and was like ‘Australia, whatever’, then that might be true, but it’s still so much bigger than us, we’re still small fry.”


As my immediate family, Facebook friends, Twitter followers, one-time acquaintances and irregular service personnel will know, it’s my professional goal to interview Drake, the Canadian musician and forthcoming Time Man of the Year 2015 (I’m confident, and also voting in the online poll every 90 minutes).

I have spent a lot, some might say too much time – if they wanted to reference Drake’s 2012 deep cut Too Much – thinking about how to make this happen. My strategy at the moment is liking every photo he posts to Instagram while hoping he tries to resurrect his acting career because he’ll need more press coverage then.

I am never not ready to interview Drake, but I wasn’t expecting to get the opportunity for a dry run on the Arias red carpet. Matt Okine and Alex Dyson, the Triple J breakfast hosts who last year dressed as Sia and Chet Faker, are this year dressed up as Drake and a jester on stilts for some reason. (Note from Monica: apparently that’s the pink backdrop from Drake’s Hotline Bling video.) Their costumes look both hot and restrictive.

I ask Matt to speak to me as Drake.

“Drake’s very well known as Champagne Papi; we’re more Goonbag Papi,” he says.

“No,” I say, giving him a meaningful look. “You are Drake.”

“Oh, sure, I’m Drake. 100%. I’m across all the Drake stuff.”

“You are Drake.”

“Yeah, I know.”

Not everyone in the music industry is bemoaning the state of an industry in its death throes. Michael Chugg, executive chairman of Chugg Entertainment, and leading Australian concert tour promoter, is striding down the red carpet with pure confidence. “The internet has made us. It has changed our lives,” he says.

“Australian music is going through the roof. You’ve got Vance Joy and Sheppard and Tame Impala blowing up worldwide. It’s really exciting.”

Who does he think is going to take the album of the year award tonight? “Tame Impala, we hope. They just did a sell-out tour of 60,000 people around Australia”


Christiaan Van Vuuren, one half of the Bondi Hipsters, says he left his alter egos, Dom Nader and Adrian Archer, at the beach in Bondi. Which was a wise idea in this heat.

Their song, Fuhck the Bahnks – a tirade against the One Percent, the Lizard People, the illuminati and the big banks – is up for best comedy release.

Are there any members of the illuminati here tonight?

Well that’s why Dom and Adrian didn’t want to come along tonight, they were a bit worried they were going to be getting spied out by the Illuminati. But hopefully winning an Aria earns you a place in the Illuminati. We’re still trying to get in.

Guardian Australia last week ran a piece about the Bondi Paradox: gluten-free yoga healthy living by day, and snorting cocaine by night.

[In that article] you guys quoted our song, The Life Organic, which is about people who eat organic during the week and smash coke all weekend. Too many people who live healthy lifestyles snort coke off toilet bowls in the evening. I actually think the desire to live a healthy life comes off the back of having such unhealthy weekends – they need to make up for the fact they took all those chemicals. It’s an over-correction both ways.

We loved you in Bondi Hipsters, we loved you in the TV series Soul Mates. What’s next for you and Nick Boshier?

We just got commissioned for Soul Mates season two shooting early next year and it’s going to be on the ABC next year.

Do you think the bank will finally give you a loan if you win an Aria tonight?

I think so – that’d be nice. I’ll melt it down and pretend it’s silver. It’s funny, at the Arias all the people from the music industry wear nice clothes and walk on red velvet and everybody points cameras at them and thinks they’re really successful, when EVERYBODY in the music industry made like $7 last year thanks to piracy. The music industry more than any other industry – it is not as it appears.

Will you be partying after the show tonight?

My partner Adele and I have a seven-month-old baby.

So your Bondi paradox days are behind you.

They’re behind me.


Among the first to walk down the red carpet are the Wiggles, looking poised and glamorous in their black-tie wear. Outside of their skivvies (rendering my cheat sheet – “RED”, “PURPLE” – useless), they’re marked out as children’s entertainers by their enormously tolerant and cheerful demeanours.

They are nominated for best children’s album. If they win, it will be their 13th, and the second in their new line-up. They have already made Aria history as the most-awarded Aria category in one category – so, if you’re toying with the idea of starting up a children’s group, they could do with some competition.

Emma Watkins (“YELLOW”), wearing a floor-length dress in turquoise sequins, says it’s a “night out” for the group. Her dress is by Suzanne Harward, who is also designing the gown for her upcoming wedding to fellow Wiggle Lachy Gillespie (“PURPLE”).

The Wiggles keep a gruelling tour schedule, spending as much as two-thirds of the year on the road in North America and Australasia. “It’s really nice to come home and have a night off and celebrate together,” she says.

In early January, the original Wiggles line-up are holding a reunion: an adults-only gig at a pub, to raise funds for returned servicemen. I have a lot of questions about what might go down at an R18 Wiggles pub gig, but original Wiggle (origo-Wiggle?) Anthony Field (“BLUE”) is not with the group.

Simon Pryce (“RED”) – on the red carpet with his girlfriend Lauren Hannaford, described in the press release as an “Instagram Fitness Star” who he met when she was a dancer for the Wiggles – says they will “definitely” be attending the reunion.

“We’ll be the backing group,” suggests Emma.

“We know the words,” says Simon. “There are a lot of people who know the words.”

Welcome to our Arias 2015 live blog!

Hello and good evening to all of you music lovers and celeb junkies out there in Internet Land, Guardian Australia’s Monica Tan (@m_onicatan) here. We’re going to live blog the Arias show along with the Channel Ten television broadcast at 7.30pm (which is not live, but a couple of hours behind).

Our intrepid “who are you wearing” reporters Elle Hunt (@mlle_elle) and Janine Israel (@newsjanine ) were on the ground at the Arias red carpet and they’re now inside the Star in Sydney.

This from Elle earlier in the afternoon:

It is hot – my phone says 36C; the sweat already trickling uncomfortably down the back of my top suggests it could be higher. But I’m not here to live-blog the weather: I’m here to live-blog the ARIAs, the pre-eminent celebration of the Australian music industry.

Right now, media are packed into concrete pens adjoining the red carpet. There’s not as big a throng of fans on the other side of the barriers as there was at last year’s Arias, which were attended by both 5 Seconds of Summer and One Direction. This year’s international performer-cum-teenage-girl drawcard is Ed Sheeran, and there’s already rumour that he won’t appear on the red carpet at all. I hope it’s not true, because I want to see his Shrek tattoos in person.


Elle Hunt, Janine Israel and Monica Tan

The GuardianTramp

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