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Heavy Music Awards - August 2018

Indie Mixtape
July 17, 2018

What is the story behind the Heavy Music Awards and why did you start it? 
We had the idea to start the HMAs at the tail end of 2016. It felt like there was a space for a new approach that was independent and progressive, so we pulled the plan together and launched in March 2017.
The concept is to have members of the music industry voting as individuals to create our shortlists across ten categories, then we open up those shortlists to the public to decide the winners. This year we had the best part of 400 industry professionals on the panel, and 131,000 verified votes from the public.
Our event this year takes place at London’s Koko on 23 August, with The Fever 333, Milk Teeth, Black Peaks and Coldbones performing live around the presentations themselves.

How do you decide who is on the judging panel?  
It’s open to anyone who works professionally or semi-professionally in music - we don’t discriminate based on how many years someone has been in the industry or what their role is - as long as they are working as a legitimate part of the ecosystem, they are valuable to the scene and we want them involved! Ultimately we’d like to get absolutely everyone in, but you have to start modestly and build.

How do the judges decide the nominees?
By simple personal taste. We just ask them to nominate their top three in each category, then we collate them all and take the top seven once they’re all added up to form our finalists’ shortlists. We have no input at all in any of the judging or voting process, so it’s exciting for us to see who makes it in and wins too!

Tell us about the best live shows you’ve seen this year.
Being As An Ocean at Download was pretty phenomenal, especially as they were following The Fever 333 who absolutely leveled the place.
Counterparts at Slam Dunk was insane, they are definitely at the top of their game at the moment and I’ve been watching them for a long time now, it’s great to see.
Turnstile at Boston Music Room recently was wild. Architects at Alexandra Palace was special, excited to see what’s next for them. And I was lucky enough to get a ticket for Deftones at Southbank Centre, which was a pretty unique night. There’s so many great tours coming in before the end of the year too!

How would you describe the Heavy Music Awards for people in three words?
Diversity. Progression. Positivity.

The industry has changed a lot in recent years with the rise of streaming services, how do you think that has affected the heavy music community?
I think the biggest change, or thing we have lost, is the buzz of buying an album on release day and not knowing what to expect, just because you are invested in an artist. By the time an album is out now you have probably heard half of it, which is not better or worse in my opinion, just a different approach. 

That said, I feel like an album release is something that could be celebrated more effectively as it is a chance to bring fans together with each other and bring them closer to the artists. That sense of belonging within a band’s fanbase is really valuable. You only have to look at the way twenty one pilots have cultivated theirs to see what a gamechanger it can be. Those streaming figures are massive, but it’s the sold out arena tours with next to no promotion that are the most impressive.

It’s been a busy year for heavy music, what have been the highlights? 
Every year is busy in heavy music! Personally I am excited to see labels and events continuing to grow with their own identity. Labels like Holy Roar or UNFD or Prosthetic are signing eclectic bands who are making really exciting music. 

There are so many people doing exciting and creative things at the moment, it always feels fresh. Even established events like Bloodstock, who could easily rest on their laurels with an established fanbase, keep pushing forward and growing, and are celebrating their biggest year ever in 2018. That’s amazing to see.

What do you predict for heavy music in 2019?
We’re so lucky in the UK to have so many festivals and amazing tours throughout the year - and I don’t know how soon it’ll happen but it feels like things are going to start evolving as the traditional festival headliners hang up their hats. 

I hope some of the current crop can cross over to become headliners - bands like Bring Me The Horizon, Architects, Gojira, Ghost, Bullet For My Valentine - but the playing field is not what it was ten or even five years ago, so I think we’ll see festivals and tours becoming more and more sold on their whole line-up than on individual bands, which hopefully keeps all these amazing events alive, gives fans value for money and increases opportunities for bands. Whatever happens it won’t be boring!

Indie Mixtape

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