Taite Music Prize finalist Tami Nielson discusses her nominated album "Dynamite!"
The winner of the Taite Music Prize, which aims to award the best album from a New Zealand artist over a calendar year, will be announced on April 15 at a media event in Auckland. Named after renowned local journalist Dylan Taite, the award comes with $10,000 in prize money for one of the 10 shortlisted nominees.
Starting off her career in Canada as a young girl touring with the Neilson Family band, Tami Neilson is no stranger to critical success. She won the Tui for Best Country Album three consecutive times, picked up the Best Country Song last year, and, impressively, took out the Silver Scroll Award last year for her song 'Walk (Back To Your Arms)' . Now up for the Taite Music Prize, Tami chats about juggling motherhood and recording responsibilities, and finding her identity on her nominated album Dynamite!
Can you tell us a little about the recording and songwriting process for Dynamite!?
It was all very fast. The songs were written in the fog of my first year of motherhood, so, choruses written in the shower, melodies recorded into my phone while I fed him, and sleep-deprivation skewing my usual need to polish things a bit more. Three of the songs were also written in studio with Delaney Davidson the morning we recorded them. The whole album was also recorded and mixed in less than a week. It was rough and ready, live off the floor with everyone in the same room. So, while not slick and shiny, it captured a raw energy, like it could all fall over any second, which I love about it.
Did you go into the studio with a vision for how you wanted the record to sound?
I wanted to keep my country foundation, but be heavily flavoured with soul, rockabilly, and gospel … like an artist off the Sun Records roster, not pigeon-holed to one genre. After working and touring with Delaney over that year, I totally trusted him to know the potential of what I was capable of from my live shows, which had never been captured in my previous acoustic recordings. This was my first full studio album as a solo artist, so finding my identity and sound was really important. Delaney and Ben Edwards did an amazing job.
What sort of challenges did you face when recording the album?
Besides juggling motherhood and touring, I was three months pregnant with my second baby boy while we recorded and was as sick as a dog! I would make a lot of trips to the bathroom between takes … fun times.
What music or influences helped to shape the sound of the album?
Can I answer this without being sued by Marvin Gaye’s family?
What’s your favourite song from the album?
It’s hard to choose one, as I love them all for different reasons, whether it be who I wrote them for or how much fun we had recording them. It’s kind of like choosing a favourite kid.
LISTEN: Nick Bollinger reviews Tami Neilson's Dynamite!