Locally they’ve probably won more awards than they can collectively carry, but the news of Airport Impressions placing first in an international music competition must surely be the proverbial cherry on the band’s cake, at least until the next award comes along. On the strength of their infectious Berlin single and the rest of the songs one finds on their popular Mariette album, Airport Impressions were awarded first place in the Adult Album Alternative (AAA) category of this year’s edition of the international Unsigned Only (UO) music competition. Given that the bulk of the entries came from the USA, UK and Canada – essentially the world’s leading music markets - Airport Impressions’ success tastes even sweeter.
Perhaps not so widely known within the local music scene, UO was set up by the same team behind the prestigious International Songwriting Competition (ISC), and strives to discover upcoming talent from all over the globe. It is open to solo artists, bands and singers who have not yet been signed by any label but have the potential to break through given the right opportunity. In contrast to other similar competitions, UO prides itself in fronting a high-profile panel of judges consisting of top deck recording artists and industry professionals, not to mention an amazing grand prize for the overall winner and the chance for all the participants to have their work heard by some of the top decision-makers in the music business.
In the wake of this achievement, MICHAEL BUGEJA spoke to JOHANN SCHEMBRI of AIRPORT IMPRESSIONS about the band’s latest success and what this award means in terms of the band’s onward march towards greater things.
What attracted you to submit your music to the UO competition?
It has always been one of our main aims to export our music and broaden our listenership, and we felt that this competition was a convenient tool to promote the band at an international level. The judges in the competition as well as the A&R people on board included some very interesting names from a number of different genres, which got us more interested of course. We had also checked the results of previous competitions and it was evident that the winning acts were all of a certain level. Basically, we submitted our music without too many expectations, especially since a huge number of entries are sent in each year. In fact, I only told the rest of the band that I’d submitted our songs after I was informed that Berlin had made it to the final stages (laughs).
Has there been any development since the results were announced?
We’re currently in contact with the organizers, who have expressed positive comments about Berlin, as well as third parties from within the industry who have shown interest in our music. It is still too early of course, as we’re still in the contact process, but we’re optimistic about the whole thing and naturally eager to see what comes of it.
How important was it placing first in the Adult Album Alternative category in particular?
According to the description of the AAA category, the genre is much broader than limited playlists of pop hit radio and, stylistically, AAA stations are more inclined to play rock, folk-rock, country-rock, modern rock, singer/songwriters and Blues. To give you an example, stuff along the lines of Jewel, John Mayer, Fleetwood Mac, Jason Mraz, Ben Harper, Beck, Tori Amos, Coldplay, etc. To us it’s all the more interesting as we feel that the ‘styles’ I just mentioned are more or less reflected in the music on Mariette. Also, in our opinion, this category also reflects a more mature aspect from both a musical and lyrical perspective.
I believe that the sound of Airport Impressions, despite never shying away from strong melodies, can easily be associated with music that has a message to convey, and also has a particular depth with an alternative touch. I believe this is what our music has always been about, so receiving the top award in such a category obviously means a lot to us. Having it on our presskit should also underline quite emphatically where our musical bearings lie.
What's next for Airport Impressions?
The next step will be the release of another single and an accompanying music video. We’re also planning to organise a local concert in the near future, and of course we’ll be following up on the contacts we’ve been making on the international circuit thanks to the various opportunities we’ve had to play abroad so far.
Photo by Gianfranco Stellini