Shortlist love fest: Polaris nominees on whom they'd pick to win

Mustafa, the Weather Station, Tobi and other shortlisted artists fan out over their fellow nominees.

Mustafa, the Weather Station, Tobi and other shortlisted artists fan out over their fellow nominees

The Weather Station, Mustafa, Tobi and the rest of the short-listed artists reveal who they're rooting for (besides themselves) at the Polaris Music Prize awards on Monday, September 27th. (Artist photos by Daniel Dorsa, Dexter Navy, and Patrick Duong)

The Polaris Music Prize is a coveted award, but for an artist or a band, sometimes just being on the short list is a dream come true. This year's nominees are a particularly exciting and eclectic group, and a real testament to the strength and creativity of the country's independent, emerging and underground music scenes.

CBC Music reached out to all the Polaris Music Prize's 2021 shortlisters to ask this critical question: If not you, then who?

All of the nominees weighed in, some of whom are hyped for their friends, in love with an album, and/or in awe of a blazing new talent. Ahead of the Polaris Music Prize virtual gala and winner's announcement on Monday, Sept. 27, the artists shared their thoughts on who they're cheering for — aside from themselves, of course.


"Another album on the short list that I really enjoyed was When Smoke Rises by Mustafa. The songwriting is beautiful, the vulnerability, the musical styles — it's stuff that I always listen to on my ones. So just to hear that from somebody else in this city was so powerful. It's really a special project."


"One album on the 2021 Polaris short list that I did get an opportunity to listen to and enjoy was the Weather Station's Ignorance. I just thought it was cohesive and clear and convincing, and it was my first time listening to the Weather Station, and I'm just glad to be nominated alongside her."

Cadence Weapon

"One of the other albums from the short list that I really like — and the short list is really dope this year — but one of the other albums that I really like is Mustafa's record When Smoke Rises. I think it's really special, I think it's a very unique album. I love 'Stay Alive.' I really enjoy the Sudanese tribal samples that you can hear and I feel like I've never really heard a record like this. It has the timeless quality but it's very contemporary at the same time, you know? And I feel like it's something Canadians can be really proud of. It's a dope record."

Leanne Betasamosake Simpson

"I really loved Zoongide'ewin's, my strong-hearted Anishinaabe sibling's, record, Bleached Wavves. It's a really, really beautiful piece of work and I feel really proud that an Anishinaabe musician made it."

Klô Pelgag

"I really love the shortlisted album Ignorance by the Weather Station."

Dominique Fils-Aimé

"The album that I connected [with] the most on the Polaris short list was the one that I was already listening to before, so it made me very happy to see it on the short list. It's Elements Vol. 1 from Tobi. I feel like this album is extremely raw and authentic. It is bringing something new to the musical scene which is always something that we crave as listeners. As artists, there's nothing more exciting than hearing an album that just feels fresh and new, so this was definitely my coup de cœur. Congrats, Tobi, thank you for this album."


"Another Polaris shortlisted album that I really like is Theory of Ice by Leanne Simpson. I admire the stories Leanne shares and also enjoy her backing band who helped assist those stories with beautiful textures and sounds."


"What is another album you like on the Polaris short list and why? This is a very, very tough question. This year, you can't go wrong with any of the artists. If it's not The Ends, I gotta pick Zoon's Bleached Wavves. it's doing something different. Klô Pelgag's record is also very, very fire. I just appreciate when musicians are able to do something different that I haven't necessarily heard it like that before. It makes me very excited to listen to music."

The Weather Station

"Another album that I really enjoyed is Leanne Betasamosake Simpson's Theory of Ice. I really love the poetry, the lyrics are wonderful. I also love her voice and the thoughtful way she delivers the words. It was such a wonderful combination of musicality and lyricism, almost a literary quality, and I also thought she did an incredible job of evoking the complexity of the topic. I really enjoyed that record."


"Tobi just has a vibe to him that speaks to the soul. I love his lyricism and I'm inspired every time I hear a new tune. His album is cohesive and has beautiful production along with a lot of heartfelt quotes."


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