The winner of the 2013 Polaris Music Prize, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, is challenging the need for an award gala in a "time of austerity and normalized decline" after being handed the $30,000 award Monday night in Toronto.
In a statement released on Tuesday the band was both thankful for the nod, and critical of the annual award gala which honours a Canadian band without looking at genre or sales history.
'Maybe the next celebration should happen in a cruddier hall, without the corporate banners and culture overlords. and maybe a party thusly is long overdue.' - Godspeed You! Black Emperor
"Thanks for the nomination thanks for the prize - it feels nice to be acknowledged by the Troubled Motherland when we so often feel orphaned here," the statement said.
The band went on to suggest that "organizing a gala just so musicians can compete against each other for a novelty-sized cheque doesn’t serve the cause of righteous music at all.
"Maybe the next celebration should happen in a cruddier hall, without the corporate banners and culture overlords. and maybe a party thusly is long overdue," the band said.
The event was being held at a new venue this year, The Carlu on Yonge Street. Previously it was at the Masonic Temple.
The Montreal-based band will use their prize money to support music education in Quebec prisons.
"We’re gonna use the money to try to set up a program so that prisoners in Quebec have musical instruments if they need them," the band said.
Feist, the winner of last year's award, was on hand to present Godspeed You! Black Emperor as the winner. A spokesperson for the band accepted the prize.
The band's statement also took issue with the Polaris ceremony for asking Toyota to help pay for the gala "during a summer where the melting northern ice caps are live-streaming on the internet." It said that "comes across as tone-deaf to the current horrifying malaise."
Scion Canada — a division of Toyota Canada — was the presenting sponsor of this year's Polaris.
The band's members rarely grant interviews or choose to speak about their music publicly. The Polaris-winning record, Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! is a four-song movement that stands as the outfit's first new album in 10 years.
Metric, Tegan and Sara among shortlist
Toronto new-wave band Metric, Montreal jazz saxophonist Colin Stetson and Calgary twins Tegan and Sara were the only artists to make a return appearance on the 10-album Polaris short list.
The award gala was hosted by singer Kathleen Edwards and rapper Shad, both two-time Polaris contenders.
The ten finalists for 2013 were:
- The Montreal-based, orchestral-ambient band Godspeed You! Black Emperor, for their album, Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!
- Toronto hip hop artist Zaki Ibrahim's Every Opposite.
- Toronto super-group Metric made the shortlist with the album Synthetica.
- Toronto alt-rockers, METZ, for their self-titled album.
- Purity Ring, with members hailing from Edmonton and Halifax, for their album, Shrines.
- Avante-garde saxophone soloist Colin Stetson, based in Montreal, for New History Warfare Vol. 3: To See More Light.
- Tegan and Sara's seventh studio release, Heartthrob.
- Ottawa-based electronic DJ crew A Tribe Called Red's Nation II Nation.
- The Hamilton, Ont. folk duo Whitehorse for The Fate of the World Depends on This Kiss.
- Montreal-based alt-pop group Young Galaxy's Ultramarine.
The Polaris prize is awarded by a jury of music journalists, broadcasters and bloggers from across Canada and was established to celebrate creativity and diversity in Canadian music — without regard to musical genre or sales history. Polaris Prizes have previously been awarded to Feist, Arcade Fire, Karkwa, Patrick Watson, Caribou and Final Fantasy.
The $30,000 Polaris Music Prize is awarded to the artist who produced Canada's top album of the year.