Big Scary’s ‘Not Art’ Wins the Australian Music Prize

Alternative rock duo Big Scary has won the 9th annual Australian Music Prize -- and the A$30,000 ($27,000) winner’s check -- for their sophomore release “Not Art” (Pieater/Inertia).

Big Scary, comprising Tom Iansek and Joanna Syme, took out the prestigious award at a ceremony today in Sydney, where their album beat out eight other shortlisted recordings. 

It’s a case of fourth-time lucky for Big Scary. “Not Art” was up for the Australian album of the year at last November’s J Awards (Flume’s eponymously-titled release won), and the Melbourne pair was nominated for trophies at the most recent AIR and ARIA Awards. On each occasion, they walked away empty-handed.  

The AMP’s ambition is “to seek and recognize Australian music of excellence across all genres,” and it's modelled on Britain’s Mercury Prize and Canada's Polaris Prize. “Not Art” was deemed by a panel of 11 judges as the best of its 2013 class, ahead of former winners Cloud Control’s "Dream Cave," Beaches’ "She Beats,” Dialectrix’ “The Cold Light Of Day,” Horrorshow’s “King Amongst Many,” Jagwar Ma’s "Howlin’," Jen Cloher’s “In Blood Memory,” Jimblah’s "Phoenix" and Kirin J Callinan’s "Embracism."

The nine nominated albums were whittled down in January from a longlist of 43.

Speaking after their win, Syme said, "We're huge fans of the AMP -- any award that has bands like The Mess Hall and Eddy Current Suppression Ring in its short history of winners has gotta be doing something right. That's why it's a huge honor to be awarded this year's prize.”

Big Scary joins an elite pack of AMP victors which includes The Jezabels ("Prisoner"), the Drones ("Wait Long By The River And The Bodies of You Enemies Will Float By") and last year’s winners Hermitude ("HyperParadise").

Legendary British producer Steve Lillywhite and one-time Mercury Records U.K. managing director was the guest speaker at this year’s ceremony. “The quality of the shortlisted albums was exceptionally high,” he said. “I especially like Big Scary, the sonic quality of their album works really well.”

Beer brand Coopers sponsors the award, and rights society PPCA donated the cash prize.