Total Otto-mation


POSTED: Friday, October 02, 2009

Hawaii's recording artists don't lack opportunities to win awards for their work—in theory, anyway.

The Grammy Awards are open to artists with national distribution. The Na Hoku Hanohano Awards are open to Hawaii-resident artists of all musical genres and to some nonresidents, as well. And there are Johnny Kai's Hawaii Music Awards, originally seen by many as an awards program for local acts that couldn't win a Hoku; they gained credibility over the years and are the only awards program that allows the global public to vote in all categories via the Internet.

Thanks to Honolulu entrepreneur/musician/actor Otto, more of Hawaii's musical artists have an opportunity to become award winners on Sunday when he presents the 2009 Hawaii Underground Music Awards. Otto will present awards in nine categories, and there will be performances by 86List, Cherry Blossom Cabaret, Sabrina, Pray for Thunder, All Heart, the Deadbeats and Black Square.

And, he warned, there will definitely be “;bad language, and probably nudity”; throughout the afternoon.





        » Where: Doris Duke Theater, Honolulu Academy of Arts

» When: 4 p.m. Sunday


» Cost: $10


» Info: 532-8700 or




TAKE NOTE, corporate Hawaii: Otto is personally underwriting this show. He's buying lunch for everyone involved in the rehearsal, hiring a limo to take the finalists from the parking lot to the red carpet, arranging for paparazzi to cover their arrival with appropriate panache, and covering the costs involved in having a different stage set for each band that will play during the show.

“;Just like the MTV Music Awards,”; he said last weekend. All proceeds—“;100 percent, every dollar that is taken in”;—from the $10 ticket price will be donated to the Honolulu Academy of Arts.

The Hawaii Underground Music Awards (HUMAS) began as a theme for Otto's annual Halloween birthday party—“;kind of as a parody (of awards shows),”; he said. “;But it turned into an actual event.”;

The winners last time included 86List, Malcognitas, Black Square, Temporary Lovers, Nabahe, Dolls Till Daylight and the Hell Caminos. 86List and Black Square are the only bands to return as finalists this year.

But, wait just a minute—some of this year's finalists, including Go Jimmy Go, Pimpbot, Creed Chameleon, Tassho Pearce (aka Emirc) and Upstanding Youth, have received significant coverage here and elsewhere in mainstream media.

It would seem that “;underground”; no longer means “;unknown.”; Put another way, aren't there categories at the Grammys for many of these “;underground”; genres?

Otto agreed that “;underground”; can be a matter of personal perspective.

“;The first one, I tried to (include) anybody who wasn't Hawaiian music because they get recognized at the Hoku Awards,”; he said, adding that the general consensus was to include a category for rock bands despite the Hoku category that currently exists. Various people helped him compile this year's preliminary ballot; from there, Otto and friends “;kind of dwindled it down”; to five or six finalists in each category.

According to Otto, nomination criteria included “;how long they'd been around. ... Some of the bands that won last time aren't around anymore.”; Other considerations mentioned in the official press release included the finalists' “;work, development and progress in the underground music community.”;

ULTIMATELY, the HUMAS are something that started off as just a theme but grew into something bigger.

“;It turned into something that I didn't expect,”; Otto said. “;It was just a name I came up with, (but) it is legit because of the way the voting is.”;

Voting was open to everyone nominated last time around; those who attend Sunday's show will get a ballot on the way in.

“;The overall point of this event is to have a fun celebration of the Hawaii underground scene and humbly acknowledge the hard work of a few of the many talented bands we have in our community,”; Otto wrote in an official press release for the awards.



2009 Hawaii Underground Music Award finalists:

» All Heart
» Stillborn Skies
» Satellite Grey
» Die Slow
» Arkeo
» Corrupt Absolute

Indie Rock
» Jumpoffs
» Our Distance
» Linus
» Busekrus
» King of Spades

» Upstanding Youth
» Go Jimmy Go
» Black Square
» Pimpbot
» 82 Fifty

» Smitz
» White Rose
» 86 List
» Old Habits Die Hard
» Mistermeaner

» The Deadbeats
» Creed Chameleon
» Tassho Pearce
» Ill Valley
» Maryanne

» Sabrina
» David Tamaoka
» Josh86
» Megum Pie
» Shawn Davenport

New Band
» My Sleep Therapy
» Prevail
» Haberdashery
» Rodney Dangerboys
» Dawn of the Onslaught

Best Album
» Busekrues: “;On the Rocks”;
» Black Square: “;Onward”;
» Linus: “;Terminal”;
» Pimpbot: “;Admit One”;
» 86 List: “;86”;
» Upstanding Youth: “;A Sense of Urgency”;

Best Song
from Best Album category
» “;Groovy”; from “;On the Rocks”; by Busekrues
» “;We Go Skanin”; from “;Onward”; by Black Square
» “;Arrivals and Departures”; from “;Terminal”; by Linus
» “;Baseball”; from “;Admit One”; by Pimpbot
» “;HPD”; from “;86”; by 86 List
» “;Sing To Me”; from “;A Sense of Urgency”; by Upstanding Youth