Auckland’s Vector Arenais a very special place for Stan Walker. It’s the stage on which he realised his lifelong dream – to meet and perform alongside his idol, Beyoncé, as the opening act for the New Zealand and Australia leg of her world tour.
And just a few short weeks after opening for the world’s biggest pop star, the Kiwi singer is excited to be heading back to Vector – but this time to co-host the Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards, alongside The Block host Shannon Ryan. But he’ll be back on stage as a changed man. “Meeting Beyoncé was definitely the best moment of my life,” he says. “She’s the queen. That’s been the dream for so long. It’s fully changed me. It’s boosted me, taken me to the next level. I feel so empowered.”
He’s set to take that confidence into his first major hosting gig. “It’s a massive honour,” he says.
“Honestly, I can’t believe I get to be the host. And I get to do it with the most beautiful woman ever,” he adds, with a cheeky grin at Shannon.
“Aw, stop it,” she laughs.
To be named hosts of the awards which annually celebrate New Zealand music stars, such as Kimbra, Gin Wigmore and Six60 this year, finishes off an incredibly successful 2013 for both Stan (23) and Shannon (25).
While Stan – who is in a new relationship after splitting from The Voice Australia contestant Brittany Cairns earlier this year – is coming off his Beyoncé performances, as well as a season on The X Factor judging panel and a sell-out New Zealand tour, Shannon has just finished a second series of The Block and is still hosting music show Four Live every weekday.
But while they both agree the awards is a definite career highlight, they’re not sure the organisers are aware of what they’ve got themselves into.
“I don’t know what they were thinking, letting me have free rein of a microphone,” Stan says.
“I’m just excited to have a co-host that doesn’t look like my dad,” quips Shannon, referring to The Block frontman and cricketing legend Mark Richardson.
Friends for years since meeting on the set of Shannon’s music show, the pair’s banter and shared sense of humour will get them through the night – as well as a “no underwear” pact.
“I hate wearing undies,” offers Stan, who grins as Shannon dissolves into giggles.
“You know, I hate wearing a bra. Maybe we just won’t wear any undies on the night... maybe this is why we get along so well, our shared underwear aversion.”
“We’ll both wear no bra at the music awards,” says Stan. “Done. I’ll get these puppies out.”
While it’s an understatement to say they’re comfortable around each other, Stan – who himself has won five Tuis – is looking to Shannon, who hosted the awards last year with TV3 star Ben Boyce, to be the “sensible” one.
“I’m relying on her, but Shannon is the bomb. She’s amazing, she’s gorgeous, and there is no awkwardness between us, which is awesome.”
Shannon agrees that co-hosting alongside a mate makes the job a lot easier.
“Stan’s super-talented, but he’s also genuine and really endearing. It’s going to be so much fun.”
And while Stan is up for two Tuis, including the People’s Choice Award (“Vote for me Whanau!” he adds with his trademark smile), he admits anxiety about the hosting.
“Even though I’m loud as, and shameless, I can still be wary and shy, so yeah, I am pretty nervous. I’m good at freestyling, I’m just a big mouth. Shannon will be the order. She’s the professional.”
“Nah, I don’t wanna be,” interrupts Shannon. “I wanna be loose! I’m not wearing a bra, for god’s sake!”
The 2013 Vodafone NZ Music Awards from Vector Arena, Auckland, is on Nov 21 and broadcast on FOUR, 8pm.