Emily Vartha, 15, has won the Nelson solo/duo category of the Smokefreerockquest. Photo: Supplied.

Solo success for Nelson teen


A local student’s take on the anxiety and fears of teenage life has earned her the top spot in the Nelson solo/duo category of the Smokefree Rockquest competition.

Indie folk-rock performer Emily Vartha from Nelson College for Girls was announced as the winner last week for her song ‘Drown’.

“Music is colourful sentences with emotion and passion strung into each note, forming a story,” says the 15-year-old.

“It’s a better form of speech. Music is what I use to convey my true feelings.”

Emily will now go into the national selection pool, along with two others from the region – Phoebe Leenhouwers from Motueka High School, who placed second, and Zac Griffith from Garin College, who came third.

They have all won a prize package from the Rockshop and will now go into the event’s live national final in September.

Meanwhile, video entries for the competing bands in the region closed last week and the regional winners will be announced on 7 August.

The finalists will play off at the national final in Auckland on Saturday, 12 September.

Smokefree Rockquest founder and director Pete Rainey says that at the regional level some entrants are already demonstrating the stand out factor that may see them achieve music career success.

“It’s fascinating for us to look back at success stories like Kimbra, Marlon Williams, and Broods where we could see the star factor right back at the regional level.

“Each event gives a new cohort of bands the opportunity to take their obsession with music and develop the organisational and stagecraft skills that will help them become another Kiwi music success.”

Smokefree Tangata Beats is also being run alongside Smokefree Rockquest with a focus on the unique cultural identity of Aotearoa New Zealand and the South Pacific.

Entries for this programme closed last week with the winners due to be announced this Friday.