The IMJA Winners 2023
of the year
Author / Editor (Zeit Online)
Writing a eulogy for Julia Lorenz is sheer joy. On the one hand. On the other hand, you have tied yourself to an exorbitant amount of time-consuming madness with this task: Hardly any other colleague has published text after text after text in the past year as steadily as Julia Lorenz, and every single one of them very emphatically invites you to get stuck in, to read a little further, a few more lines, just to finish this paragraph and the next ... welcome to the rabbit hole.
Regardless of whether Julia Lorenz publishes at Zeit Online, in her column at the Musikexpress or in any other medium that hopefully feels kissed by happiness, regardless of whether she writes about political or social issues, about climate or about art, about edifying or disgusting things: it never seems as if she is just doing a job. Lorenz always writes with heart and soul, with interest in and respect for her subjects, just as she does for her readers. Yet formulated with an unaffected, casual elegance that could drive one into naked envy, it is not the pleasure of reading that soothes.
Fortunately for all of us, Julia Lorenz repeatedly uses her many talents to write about music. Knowledgeable and illuminating, she discusses artists, their albums, trends and developments in the cultural scene, thus broadening many a horizon. By the way, her top three favourite albums of last year were by Rosalìa, Shygirl and Lucrecia Dalt, so she still has taste. It's actually cheeky!
For the Jury: Dani Fromm
of the year
Author / Publisher
UK dance and club culture gave the world, through all those decades, not only the most exciting music styles to shake our chic behinds to, from lovers rock to drum &bass, from dubstep to grime, from synth pop to UK garage - it also generated some of the finest, passionate, informed, opinionated and yes, also very funny and entertaining music writing. For example in magazines like the brillant Jockey Slut back in the 90ies, co-founded by this years winner of the award for International Music Journalist Of The Year: Emma Warren. She has written tons of texts for all the top papers like the Guardian, Observer, The Face, Fader, MixMag and so on, podcasted, lectured, curated on all kinds of high-profile platforms. Plus written a couple of great books, of which her latest, „Dance Your Way Home: A Journey Through The Dancefloor“, made us decide that it’s finally time to honour her with this award. In the book, she tells her personal dance history from a time before she even went to school, through the times when her life was aligning more and more with all the dynamic dance developments in the UK from the late 80ies on, starting with Acid House all the way through the junglist 90ies and what else there was - she saw it all, processed it all, covered it all and danced her way right through it, up to the present, where she is still dancing, now enjoying the modern types of dance culture for all ages, communal forms of getting down together that appear at the same time brand new and totally ancient. May the legendary Emma Warren keep on dancing and writing for a very long time!
For the jury: Hans Nieswandt
Text - english
Lena Bammert Die Welt ist eine Scheibe - Süddeutsche Zeitung
With her text, Lena Bammert takes us into the world of a female DJ who makes a point of not being called a DJane. She has come a long way to be taken seriously as a woman with a migration background. Who started out in a shoe shop and is now booked as DJ Sedef Adasï for regular sets at Berlin's Berghain and Munich's Blitz Club, among others.
As a freelance journalist for the major dailies and weeklies, Bammert writes "about everything", as her profile at "Die Zeit" puts it. In her "SZ" story "Die Welt ist eine Scheibe" ("The world is a disc"), readers sense that they are not dealing with a pure music nerd, but with an author who in her portrait deals with people in a magical way . She is interested in her protagonist's origins, her upbringing, her family's culture and her versatility. For Sedef Emini, who started DJing at the age of 15, but who also makes music herself. Who, after 15 years of working in a man's world, finally found success two years ago.
Bammert takes us on a journey through a life from teenager to adult woman. She shows us an inside view, lets us experience the story of her heroine. One does not want to stop reading.
For the jury: Susanne Baller
Text - german
Matthew Schnipper The Sound of Grief - The New Yorker
What is music journalism? Every year we ask ourselves this question. What is music journalism today? What is it good for and what does it achieve? What can it achieve? And what should it achieve?
Answers, there are as many as there are fantastic examples of writing about music. But sometimes, sometimes there is this once piece that stands out. That makes you feel the music, yet manages to transcend it, too, aiming for a higher truth that can be found beyond the sound, the lyrics, the craft itself.
In his very personal essay „The Sound of Grief“, published in the New Yorker, Matthew Schnipper achieved exactly this. In it, the New York City-based writer and editor with bylines at The Fader, Pitchfork, GQ or New York Magazine, explores the loss of his 22-month old son, through the music he, Matthew, grew up with, the music that helped him through his youth, the music that inspired his son’s name, Renzo Rollins Schnipper, the music he shared with him, the music Renzo loved, the music Renzo clapped and smiled to – and the music Matthew could not listen to anymore after his son passed.
“The Sound of Grief” is an emotional gut punch. But it is clear that it is not written for the sake of delivering a gut punch, or for the sake of raising the writer’s profile. It is a courageous piece of writing where the pain of the writer shines through, and the weight that he and his partner carry is felt by the reader. Matthew achieves the rare feat of organically linking the personal, the musical, and the transcendental into one stunning essay that will leave every reader a different person than who they were before they began reading it.
For the jury: Aida Baghernejad
Audio - german
Falk Schacht / Sophie Kernbichl / Finna / Edis Ünek Queerer Deutschrap - der PULS Podcast mit Falk Schacht- PULS / Bayerischer Rundfunk
The anniversary "50 years of Hip Hop" in 2023 also raises the question of what can be added to this history nowadays without repeating the same anecdotes in variations? The podcast "Queerer Deutschrap" by Puls (Bayrischer Rundfunk) achieves this in an impressive way by devoting itself to a topic and a group of people who have helped shape hip hop but have received far too little attention for decades. Falk Schacht, Sophie Kernbichl and their guest Finna focus on these queer perspectives in the podcast "Queerer Deutschrap" and give the protagonists the space they deserve.
Over the course of six episodes, they analyse, for example, together with rappers like Ebow, Lia Sahin, Sir Mantis, Sookee or Kay Shanghai, what role homophobia and toxic images of masculinity play and why such images of masculinity are particularly pronounced in rap.
It also tries to get to the bottom of more fundamental questions: What characterises queer rap in the first place and which different perspectives belong to the LGBTQIA+ community? Above all, this podcast also proves: queer acts and perspectives have been part of the discourse of "hip hop" from the very beginning. For this - despite the title "Queerer Deutschrap" - an intensive look is also taken at the history of the genre in the USA or UK.
The question of why once again a white "cis" man should explain the world to us / tell us this story again occupied the jury a lot. In the end, we were convinced by the fact that in all six podcast episodes, it is primarily the queer protagonists who have their say, and the male show host comes across more like a host who gives his guests space and range without appearing patronising or lapsing into mansplaining. And also because he asks himself self-critical questions and uses his own past as a negative example. The podcast is an asset for all those who are open to learning and acting differently in order to be an ally for queer artists.
The jury would like to explicitly highlight and award the team effort of all podcast protagonists.
Every hip hop fan should have heard this podcast.
For the jury: Jessica Hughes & Elissa Hiersemann
Audio - english
Larry Mizell, Jr. 50 Years Of Hip-Hop - KEXP
2023 is – as we all know – the year hip-hop turns 50 years old. At least a party that took place in the Bronx on August 11, 1973 was collectively chosen to mark the birth of the genre. KEXP, the public radio station from Seattle, Washington, is using this anniversary as an opportunity to celebrate the art form and cultural practice in its various forms and its protagonists with the multi-part, year-long podcast series 50 Years of Hip-Hop. Host Larry Mizell Jr. and his colleagues from KEXP take us on a journey that shines a spotlight on important musical milestones as well as sideshows and underground phenomena in hip-hop culture, and which also allows numerous contemporary witnesses to have their say.
We learn for example that Blondie were among the first allies in hip-hop culture, bringing rap onto mainstream radio and rappers like Fab 5 Freddy into the spotlight with their number one hit Rapture in 1980. We learn how scratching was invented or to what extent hip-hop crews in 1984 were influenced by Prince or Kraftwerk and as a result electro-rap dominated the scene. We learn how the Palestinian crew DAM uses hip-hop to change existing conditions in their homeland. We celebrate the innovative sound of Missy Elliott that ushered in the millennium or take a deep dive into the album Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, OutKast's magnum opus from 2003 – and the last album to win a Grammy in the Album of the Year category.
And most importantly, we learn that even before the infamous August 11, 1973, there was an emerging DJ culture and legendary block parties in New York, where DJs like DJ Hollywood, often overlooked in hip-hop historiography, changed the art of partying forever by playing with two turntables in parallel and putting their own lyrics over the music and breaks.
The podcast series 50 Years of Hip-Hop is a wild, educational and first and foremost entertaining ride through half a century of music history, which once again illustrates how the underground culture of marginalized African American and Latin kids emerged into the dominant player in pop culture today.
For the jury: Katharina Grabowski
Multimedia - german
Julia Schweinberger / Lennart Bedford-Strom / Friederike Wipfler / Anne Brier / Sammy Khamis Dirty Little Secrets - ARD Mediathek
The collaborative work "Dirty Little Secrets" by Julia Schweinberger, Lennart Bedford-Strom, Friederike Wipfler, Anne Brier, and Sammy Khamis is a multifaceted approach to storytelling. Through the artful combination of text, audio, video, and visuals, this team has crafted an immersive experience that transcends the confines of traditional journalism.
Their work reminds us that music is not just about the notes and lyrics but also the lives, struggles, and triumphs of those who create it.
In a world where music journalism often focuses on the glitz and glamour, "Dirty Little Secrets" serves as a poignant reminder that there is depth and complexity beneath the surface. It encourages us all to explore the layers of music and the stories that remain hidden from the spotlight.
Congratulations to Julia Schweinberger, Lennart Bedford-Strom, Friederike Wipfler, Anne Brier, and Sammy Khamis on this well-deserved recognition!
For the jury: Niloufar Behradi-Ohnacker
Multimedia - english
Sophia Jones / Nidzara Ahmetasevic / Milivoje Pantovic The DJ and the War Crimes- Rolling Stone/Starling Lab
The article "The DJ and the War Crimes" by Sophia Jones, Nidžara Ahmetašević and Milivoje Pantović, published in Rolling Stone, is undeniably a masterpiece of investigative journalism.
These journalists have tackled an exceptionally sensitive and complex subject matter in their piece. They skillfully took readers on a gripping journey, shedding light on the painful reality of war crimes and their devastating human toll.
What makes this article remarkable is not just its meticulously researched content but also its impressive multimedia execution.
For their exceptional contributions to investigative journalism and multimedia storytelling, it is both a pleasure and a duty to honor Sophia Jones, Nidzara Ahmetasevic, and Milivoje Pantovic today.
Congratulations on this well-deserved recognition!
For the jury: Niloufar Behradi-Ohnacker
Of Music Journalism,
Manuel Biallas Schwul im Rap - Limits in London - RBB
Cok Güzel. Superb. Impresionante! This podcast combines everything I want from young journalists: creativity, foreign countries, social criticism, rebelliousness and informativeness. Manuell Biallas manages to crank out a podcast project for the Berlin Brandenburg radio network, all while doing a full time traineeship at the Northern German radio and television network. Talk about multi-tasking and hustling! Using the umbrella term “Queer in Europe”, he manages to smoothly deliver stories about Swedish refugee policy, religious tensions in Italy, the history of the Romani communities in Bulgaria and also hip-hop in England. Although I found it a bit awkward, that right at the beginning of the entertaining podcast episode "Gay in Rap - Limits in London" he speaks specifically about Bengali, Vietnamese or Turkish, while the languages of the African continent are grouped together as "African languages". A mishap, that could have easily been avoided; this does not take away from the excellence of this work. In this episode, Biallas tells the story of two emerging artists in the UK. He chronicles the life of gay rapper Dennell and that of the queer skater Sheiva. I love that we get to hear the reporter ring the doorbell of the acts being profiled. I love how the reporter describes his surroundings. I love how the reporter explains to us what terms he uses and why. I love the music bits of rapper Dennel he chose to show us. Overall I am very pleased and I'm very proud! We want more projects like these!
For the jury: Malcolm Ohanwe
"The following article refers to sections of my thesis", Rike van Kleef prefaces her guest article in trade magazine MusikWoche. This also immediately explains the sober, completely un-flowery language which makes her treatise on "Gender Imbalance in Booking" (apart from its sad subject) not what is generally considered an enjoyable read. Nevertheless, we have found this text to be highly prize-worthy.
Far too often hysterical discussions break out before anyone has even checked the data. This is exactly what Rike van Kleef has done. Even though one could actually see with two pricked out eyes that FLINTA are still dramatically underrepresented in the music industry, she first proves this with solid figures, and only then dispels the myths of "lack of supply" and "lack of quality".
Scientifically established facts cannot be given enough space in heated times like ours. We regret that such a flaming plea for more gender justice in booking is still necessary. We want to remain confident that it will fall on more and more open ears. "I'm not prepared to wait another 132 years," concludes Rike van Kleef, and we fully concur.
For the jury: Dani Fromm
Ridal Carel Tchoukuegno Bloß keine Heartaches - Zeit Online
I embrace the fact, that we have reached a point within the German media world, where people who really have an understanding and expertise of musical genres beyond the the Western European and Anglo-American spheres from an early age have the opportunity to dissect, evaluate, discuss, praise and criticize music. Ridal Carel Tchoukuegno reviews Peter Fox's album "Love Songs" for Zeit Online. He very pointedly contrasts how Afrodrill, a genre influenced by British rap and West African pop among other things, is the soundtrack for dealing with poverty and violence for black musicians like Headie One or M1llionz and is an outlet for Peter Fox to describe personal development. A thoroughly informative and entertaining text. Even if he holds back with his opinion and evaluation of the music, which would be expected in a review, the text still works in its ability to summarize facts simply. Come thru Cameroon!
For the jury: Malcolm Ohanwe