The Story Of The 2023 APRA Music Awards

26 April 2023 | 11:46 am | Viv Fantin

The 2023 APRA Music Awards will be held on Thursday, 27 April, at ICC Sydney.

(Pic by Nick Demarais)

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Connections and collabs are everywhere with the nominees of the 2023 APRA Music Awards, an event that turns 41 when it takes place at Sydney ICC in Darling Harbour this Thursday night. We went down memory lane and tracked down the most memorable connections and collaborations before tomorrow night's award ceremony.

The Yothu Yindi / King Stingray connection

Among King Stingray’s members are Yirrŋa Yunupiŋu, the nephew of Yothu Yindi frontman Dr Mandawuy Yunupiŋu and guitarist Roy Kellaway, the son of the Yothu Yindi’s Stu Kellaway

Not only were Yothu Yindi the first artist to win the APRA Song of the Year, but they were also the first band to perform live at the awards in 1991. King Stingray are nominated for the first time for three awards – Song Of The Year for Lupa, the Breakthrough Songwriter Of The Year Award, and Most Performed Rock Work for Milkumana.

In addition to co-writing Say Nothing with Flume, previous Songwriter Of The Year Sarah Aarons has also co-written songs with APRA Award-nominated and winning songwriters Peking Duk, Ruel, Guy Sebastian and The Rubens.

Nominees who have been previously named Songwriter Of The Year:

Daniel Johns (1995 with Ben Gillies, 2003 and 2008 solo)

Bernard Fanning (2006)

Flume (2017)

Sarah Aarons (2019)

Hilltop Hoods (2020)

Flume teamed up with fellow Songwriter of the Year, Daniel Johns, when they were nominated for Say It in 2017.

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Daniel Johns has had a long APRA Music Awards journey:

1995 - Songwriter Of The Year –   Daniel Johns and Ben Gillies

1996 - Winner Most Performed Australian Work Overseas  - Tomorrow

2003 - Songwriter Of The Year – Daniel Johns

2003 – Nominated Peer-Voted APRA Song of the Year - The Greatest View

2003 - Nominated Peer-Voted APRA Song of the Year – Without You

2003 – Nominated Most Performed Australian Work – The Greatest View

2004 – Nominated Peer-Voted APRA Song Of The Year --   Across the Night

2005 – Nominated Peer-Voted APRA Song Of The Year --   Young Man Old Man (You Ain’t Better Than The Rest)

2008 – Straight Lines Peer-Voted APRA Song Of The Year - Winner

2008 – Straight Lines - Most Played Australian Work - Winner

2008 - Daniel Johns named Songwriter Of The Year

2016 – Aerial Love Shortlisted Peer-Voted APRA Song Of The Year

2017 - Nominated Most Performed Australian Work – Say It (Flume)

2017 - Nominated Dance Work Of The Year – Say It (Flume)

2017 – Shortlisted Peer-Voted APRA Song Of The Year Say It (co-written with Flume) 

2023 – Nominated Peer-Voted APRA Song Of The Year-  I Feel Electric

Mark Landon, professionally known as M-Phazes, is a co-writer on I Feel Electric and was also nominated in 2023 with Ruel for Growing Up Is ___ in the Most Performed Australian Work and Most Performed Pop Work categories. 

Lime Cordiale, who are nominated with Idris Elba for Apple Crumble, also have a connection to our Ted Albert Award recipient Colin Hay, writing a song in his honour called Colin.

Brothers unite!

Louis and Oli Leimbach of Lime Cordiale, are one of six sets of songwriting siblings who repped in 2023. 

The others are:

Cosmo and Patrick Liney (Cosmos Midnight).

Jerome and Jacob Farah.

Ocean Alley’s Lachlan Galbraith and Mitchell Galbraith.

The Rubens Elliott, Sam and Zaac Margin.

And hip-hop duo Brothers Sebz and Izzy.

The family that write songs together stay together – another family connection in the mix this year is Jane Barnes, who is a co-writer with her husband Jimmy Barnes for Around In Circles, which was also co-written by Jimmy and Jane’s brother-in-law Mark Lizotte aka Diesel

The Sia connection – all roads lead back to the multiple APRA Awards winner.

She has previously been nominated for a collab with Hilltop Hoods, who are 2023 nominees.

She has been cited as an early songwriting inspiration by 2023 nominees Sarah Aarons.

She is close family friends with this year’s joint Ted Albert Award for Outstanding Services to Australian Music recipient Colin Hay – known to her as Uncle Collie.

Colin Hay, who was co-writer of the unofficial Australian anthem Down Under, won the APRA Gold Award back in 1985. The song continues to endure globally. In November 2022 – the 1980s classic Down Under lands on the APRA AMCOS’ The Billions List for passing one billion streams across all platforms.

And highlighting again that our songwriters punch above their weight globally, the following 2023 APRA Music Awards nominees have all won GRAMMY AWARDS:

Men At Work – 1983 – Best New Artist

RÜFÜS DU SOL – 2023 Grammy for Best Dance/Electronic Recording for Alive

Mark Landon (with Eminem) 2015 – for Best Rap Album Grammy The Marshall Mathers LP2 

Flume – 2017 Grammy Award for Best Dance/Electronic Album for Skin

Joel Little – 2014 Song of the Year GRAMMY for Royals with Lorde.

Also, our International Work of the Year nominees:

Harry Styles, who is a 3 x time GRAMMY Award winner.

Harry Styles – 2021 - Pop Solo Performance for Watermelon Sugar.

2023 - Best Pop Vocal Album, Album of the Year (both for Harry's House

Ed Sheeran x 4 GRAMMY Awards

2016 - Song Of The Year – Thinking Out Loud / Best Pop Solo Performance

2018 – Shape Of You – Best Pop Solo Performance / + Best Pop Vocal Album

Lil Nas X x 2 GRAMMY Awards

2020 – Old Town Road (Best Pop Duo/ Group Performance with Billy Ray Cyrus) and Best Music Video

Adele – recipient of 16 GRAMMY Awards.

As a side note, the APRA Music Awards Musical Director François Tétaz won Record Of The Year at the 55th annual Grammy Awards for Somebody That I Used to Know (Gotye, featuring Kimbra) in 2013.


Sarah Aarons – 2019 – The Middle – nominated Song of the Year

The Kid LAROI – 2021 Best New Artist / 2021 as a featured artist on Justin Bieber's Justice (Album of the Year)

Hitting the APRA Music Awards stage for the first time is Yolŋu surf rock legends and triple nominees King Stingray. Also on the line-up is Perth sensations Alter Boy, the self-described queer-electro pop band set to shake up live music representation. 

Vocal powerhouse Queenie, the trash queen alter-ego of Melbourne musician Eloise Thetford, joins in, as does R&B/Soul nominee Becca Hatch who will perform with songwriters Lucy Blomkamp and Caleb Williams

Yolngu singer, songwriter, and storyteller Yirrmal, whose music is deeply connected to his Rirratjingu culture, will make a special appearance with a band featuring Darren Middleton (Powderfinger), Ben Hakalitz (Yothu Yindi), Dallas Frasca, Schrav, and Chris Pearson

Noongar woman and artist Bumpy will team up with Folk Bitch Trio, who marry confessional songwriting and gentle instrumentation. Violinist Erkki Veltheim, guitarist Stephen Magnusson and bassist Sam Anning will bring their musical virtuosity, and dual nominee Ruel will perform hot off the release of his debut album, 4TH WALL

The 2023 APRA Music Awards will be held on Thursday, 27 April, at ICC Sydney, with hosts Celia Pacquola, Fred Leone and Henry Wagons.