Meet Gold Coast’s Queensland Music Award finalists

QMA Finalist -Hannah

Category: Pop
Song: Golden Fleece
Artist: Amy Shark

This is Amy’s third time repping the Gold Coast as a finalist in the Queensland Music Awards. “One day I’ll actually bring it home,” she laughs. “Though I’m not too confident this time.”

“It’s getting a bit exciting, where I’m probably going to go over there later this year and meet with them. So, I’ve decided to just go back and this EP will be released under the Amy Shark title.”

The EP she’s referring to, which will include Golden Fleece, will be out in April and M-Phazes (Meg Mac, Thelma Plum, Eminem) is producing Amy’s next single. For the track which sees her as a finalist at the Queensland Music Awards, Golden Fleece she worked with Brad Hosking (Blind Boy Studios).

“Brad and I have a really awesome friendship and working relationship,” she said. “I’ll go in there anytime I have an idea for a song. I’ll write all the lyrics and melody and Brad is just a mastermind with the different beats and sounds – he’s just got a way of making it sound so lush and smooth. He sort of puts all the final finishes on it to bring it to a complete different level.”

As if being a finalist at the awards isn’t enough, Brad and Amy have also scored a coveted live performance slot at the awards ceremony which takes place Monday 21 March.

“That’s massive for me,” Amy told Blank. “I’ve never played at the actual QMAs, so to be able to play in front of big wigs in the music industry for Queensland is huge. And not even just Queensland – there’s so many radio presenters and labels and everything, so it’s good to able to be on that platform.”

Category: Pop
Song: Blue
Artist: Athena Joy

Hannah Luke is a busy lady. As well as studying Griffith University’s Bachelor of Popular Music and working on campus in a bookshop, she’s also making rad music under the moniker Athena Joy.

“I really inspired by Lorde,” she says of how that name came about, “and how she just had this big presence just by her name. My real name… it’s very hard once you do gigs with a name like that… Joy is my middle name.”

The 20 year old, originally from Coffs Harbour has been gigging around the Gold Coast since moving here, predominantly at places like The Loft, Chevron Island, but it was her dad she first called when she got the news of her Queensland Music Award nomination.

“I was oh, so excited. I couldn’t wait to tell someone – I rang my dad who was at work – and he was like ‘oh, that’s pretty cool’ –he’s such a chilled person.”

She’s particularly excited to be listed amongst artists she’s seen perform live. “I’m still starting out,” she said. “I’m so early in what I’m doing. It’s really nice that they like the songs.”

Now completing her final year of study, Hannah raves about the course at Griffith. “Oh my God, it’s so awesome,” she said. “It’s definitely been so much fun. When I went to school, I think we had three people in my music class. It’s nice to be surrounded by people who are interested in the same things I am. It’s really awesome.”

Category: Electronic
Song: Animal
Artist: Mosaic (feat. Ashlee Minto)

Nick Byng is Mosaic but his song Animal, which is a finalist in the electornic music category at this year’s Queensland Music Awards is a collaboration between him and school-friend Ashlee Minto.

“We’ve been at school the last few years and have done other tracks,” Nick said. “I’ve just graduated.”

Nick is just 17 years old – turning 18 in the middle of the year. He’s a graduate from the Music Industry College (responsible for a lot of QMA finalists, so it seems) and is now studying a Diploma of Sound Production at Coomera TAFE.

“I’m not too sure about the direction I’ll take after (study), but either way, it’s going to be in music,” he told Blank GC. “It’s good to have that studio experience.”

Of course, being just 17, Nick doesn’t get to explore the Gold Coast’s club scene and he’s only ever played gigs at his school – he does hit concerts and festivals where he can.

“I couldn’t imagine my music like dance music in a club,” he said. “My music is pretty chilled – but I want it to be big. I just make and if people like it, that’s good.”

Nick said he was “so happy” to find out he was a finalist. “But I didn’t check the email until my principal from my old school messaged me about it.”

Category: Schools
Song: Young
Artist: Hannah McLeod

Hannah McLeod is another 16 year old doing her final years of high school at Music Industry College. Following a stint at Aquinas where she completed the first semester of grade 11, Hannah knew that music was what she wanted to do.

“No-one around me really had the same goals,” she said. “So I moved schools, specifically to study music.”

Living on the Gold Coast hinterland means a bit of a mission to commute to Brisbane everyday, but much to our surprise, Hannah isn’t doing that alone. “There’s about ten of us who do the journey,” she said.

Hannah raved about the program at Music Industry College. She said she does three classes a day – in a range of different subjects but they all bring a perspective related music. “In maths we learn about how to collect tax payments as a musician and in business we look at how to book gigs,” she tells me, as an example.

Hannah’s track Young which is a finalist in the school category for the Queensland Music Award isn’t the only song she’s written, but it’s the only one she’s recorded.

And in terms of being a finalist in the QMAs and its impact on her career?

“I guess just kind of, not only getting my name out there but to say my song has done this,” she said. “And I’ll get to meet some other musicians and stuff. “

Category: Children’s
Song: Mamma’s Coming Home
Artist: Candice Dianna

“This is a massive, massive breakthrough for me,” Candice Skjonnemand says, the day after her song Mamma’s Coming Home is announced as a finalist for the Queensland Music Awards children’s category.

Previously going by her own name, she recently changed her stage name to Candice Dianna. “Finally, we’re moving again,” she said. “My last name was so hard.”

Born and raised here on the Gold Coast and completing high school at Trinity, Candice says the song wasn’t even written as a kids’ song.

“It just happened like that,” she said. “When I released my EP people said kids wouldn’t stop listening to it in the car or ipads and I listened to it again and yeah, it sounds like a song you’d see on a Disney movie.”

Candice, who would be known to some people for her appearance on The Voice is just about to commence the Bachelor of Popular Music program at Griffith University. And while she travels a lot, home is absolutely the Gold Coast.

“Why would you want to be anywhere else, to be honest. “

PHOTO: QMA Finalist Hannah McLeod

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