Sydney-based duo Hermitude have become the first hip-hop act to win the prestigious Australian Music Prize, or Amp, with their fourth album, HyperParadise.
In taking out the $30,000 prize for the eighth annual award in Sydney yesterday, Angus Stuart and Luke Dubber upset more-fancied nominees including electronic wonder-boy producer Flume, veteran electro duo the Presets and globetrotting Perth rockers Tame Impala.
The lads also beat their manager and Elefant Traks label boss Tim Levinson, who as rapper Urthboy received his third unsuccessful nomination in the Amp, this time for album Smokey's Haunt.
Hermitude co-produced Urthboy's critically acclaimed effort, with Stuart joking that it was it like having two horses in the race.
"It's a win-win situation for all. (Levinson's) totally stoked at the moment, like a proud dad," he said after the award ceremony yesterday. "We were shocked and amazed when our name was read out."
Stuart said it felt fantastic to be the first hip-hop act to win the Amp, which has traditionally gone to indie rock bands. HyperParadise was recorded in a studio above a shop on Parramatta Road in Sydney, where Hermitude spent all 2011 writing the album, more like office workers than musicians.
"We went about it like a day job," Stuart said. "We would turn up at 10 or 11 in the morning and we would leave around 7pm every day.
"We've never really done it like that, in such a concentrated manner, but it was really, really fun because I guess we've always been working out of bedrooms and other random spaces that were never permanent."
While he joked that they would splurge the $30,000 prize on a tropical island getaway, Stuart said the money would go towards "beefing up" their studio.
Despite being underdogs, Hermitude have the runs on the board - Stuart and Dubber have been making music together for nearly 20 years and released their debut album, Alleys to Valleys, a decade ago.
HyperParadise has already picked up ARIA and J Award nominations and won Sydney Music, Arts and Culture as well as AIRAward trophies.
The album spawned Speak of the Devil, a Triple J hit during the summer of 2011/12 which has recently been released in the US and UK, earning regular airplay on BBC Radio 1.
Hermitude's national tour to promote the album last year sold out, while the pair also kept busy producing remixes for Missy Higgins and the Presets.
The other nominees for the eighth Amp were Grand Salvo, Jess Ribeiro and the Bone Collectors, Liz Stringer and another hip-hop outfit, Daily Meds.
The award was decided this year by an 11-stong judging panel, including four musicians: Deborah Conway, Dave Faulkner, Tim Freedman and Sam Lockwood, from last year's winners, the Jezabels.The Drones won the inaugural Amp in 2005, with Augie March, the Mess Hall, Lisa Mitchell and Cloud Control among the subsequent bands to triumph in Australia's answer to the UK's Mercury Prize.
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