SAM Award nominees share their favorite 2021 releases


As the 2021 SAM Awards draw closer, we’ve reached out to a few of this year’s nominees to check out their favorite music releases from the past 12 months.

Celebrating our local music scene has always been a meaningful endeavor, but now more than ever.

Despite the adversities the industry has faced, artists in South Australia have adapted to all of this to produce an incredible volume of music in 2021.

Since artists and venue owners in our music industry have spent most of the past two years trying to break free from the heavy restrictions placed on them, it is with a small amount of symbolism that South Australian Music This year’s awards will be held at the Old Adelaide Prison.

The event, which takes place on Thursday, November 18, will recognize artists and performers from South Australia in a range of categories chosen by the public and voted on by the industry.

To celebrate the impending ceremony, we caught up with four finalists from different categories to find out what their favorite 2021 releases were.


Rulla Kelly-Mansell, half of the dynamic First Nations duo MARLON x RULLA, says the most exciting thing for him and his music partner Marlon Motlop this year has been the ability to connect with an audience and make sure that the audience connects with what he’s putting out.

“There is always a personal aspect to your art, but there is also a sense of humility and warmth when you know that it is connecting and helping with other people,” he says.

“Some of our music can be confrontational, it can be fun, it can talk about love, health and disease, so if people say it has helped them or linked them, that’s the part. more exciting.

Rulla says that by being nominated for an award, what motivates the duo the most is showing other Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders that if you choose to pursue a dream or a passion, the opportunities are there. infinite.

“The connection I feel with [the awards] would that feeling, it can show a young boy or a young girl in a community, or anywhere in our country, that they can pursue their dreams and be recognized for it.

Aside from their own music, much of the nominees’ lineup is also Rulla’s favorite releases this year.

“Stellie – she has an amazing voice. I did a workshop with her and I’m delighted to see her nominated,” he says.

“My favorite band that released the best cover art is Heaps Good Friends, and I can’t talk enough about Nick.” [O’Connor], which is part of it. He helped us a lot. They just have such a great vibe and their cover art reflects that.

“Also, Rob Edwards, another First Nations artist who is such a sweet guy and has a real infectious vibe with his music. All First Nations artists – Tilly [Tjala Thomas]has an amazing voice, and Dem Mob from APY Lands is great to watch. I hope they will come down. I remember we played a gig with them last year, and they were so much fun.

Rulla says the ultimate goal for 2022 is to play the very first gig on the moon, but while continuing to pursue Elon, MARLON x RULLA can’t wait to travel the country and release more music.


Aston Valladares, from the adorable Adelaide duo TOWNS, said the excitement within the group this year is about creating art and making a connection at a time when connection is so small.

“We were fortunate in the middle of the year to have a nationwide tour to support our song ‘Swimming’, and it was so nice to be able to do what we love when COVID gave us a little break to do it. . ” he says.

“To be nominated for Best Music Video is a crazy feeling because it was such a team effort on the part of everyone involved. A lot of work has gone into this one, and we’ve spent many days and hours on it, so getting it recognized with a nomination is nice, especially because we can share that recognition with all of the team members.

The duo are no strangers to the SAM Awards, having won trophies over the past two years, but Aston is thrilled to attend this year and to see TOWNS among such immense talent.

“One of our best friends in the world, [Pinkish Blu’s Sebastian James] started a project called Haliday and released their first song ‘Phase Me’, and it’s such a huge and powerful track. Also, another band called Tiles just released their new song ‘Sleep In’, which fills me with dreamlike euphoria. They are as amazing live as they are on recording.


Iconic music creator Motez says this year he’s thrilled his music has reached a wider audience, with his EP Reset making the top 20 most shazammed tracks in Australia and the top 10 most played on Triple J.

Motez says SAM Awards night is the party of the year where he can catch up with so many friends and peers, celebrate each other’s accomplishments, and be proud of the state.

“I think I am nominated [for the SAM Awards] in itself is an honor; winning is icing on the cake, and all [the category nominations] are awesome!

“I loved everything The Empty Threats has done, just a fantastic band that makes dope music and has so much energy on stage. So happy to see them in the Best Group category.

The Empty Threats were also part of the People’s Choice finalist list, in the Experimental Award category, presented by The Lab.

Motez says 2022 will include shows he’s very excited about, especially a huge one here in Adelaide. Keep an eye out.


The powerful vocals of Cahli Blakers and Tahlia Borg, better known as Teenage Joans, enjoyed a colossal year in music, making the Triple J Hottest 100 on their second single and going on a nationwide tour with Amy Shark, to name one. what. a couple.

The duo say they’re thrilled for their very first SAM Awards, and with seven nominations, it’s no surprise. The name they are most excited about is Best Release.

Taste of me was a pivotal time for us; it’s literally the last years of our teenage life encapsulated in an EP forever, and we’ve worked so hard on it. He’s basically our baby, and it’s so cool to know people love and relate to him, ”the duo said. CityMag, by e-mail, collectively.

Teenage Joans’ favorite finalists are people they care about, with the group highlighting nominations within their own team.

“Our favorite nominees definitely have to be Rachel Whitford for Best Manager – it’s true she really is, we can confirm – and Jarred Nettle for Best Producer. These two are a wonderful part of our team and we wouldn’t want it any other way, ”they say.

Like the rest of the masses, Teenage Joans is hoping stages will open in 2022 so they can resume touring.

“Playing shows is our favorite activity in the world and we miss it so much – we also can’t wait to show the world the new music we’re working on! “

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