September 25, 2013

Godspeed You! Black Emperor win Polaris Prize 2013

Like everyone else in the indie-alternative blog universe, I was interested in who was going to win the 2013 Polaris Prize. There was an amazing set of nominees and the field was extremely diverse, featuring artists performing pretty pure pop music all the way through avant-jazz, R&B, native-hip-hop mash-up, electronic and loud, aggressive rock. Who would win would be anyone's guess and I think the judges had a very difficult job in picking the winner. It could have easily gone to any of the nominees, and I didn't read anyone who predicted the actual winner. I put up a little post on some of the nominees I was already familiar with a while back.

At the end of the gala, it was Godspeed You! Black Emperor who were given the Polaris Prize for 2013 and the $30,000 that goes along with it. Of course, they were not in attendance to perform or to accept the prize. Their record company spoke for them at the gala and they wrote this press release that was distributed yesterday. It's a not-ungrateful thank you along with a jab at the lavish, corporately sponsored ceremony that surrounded the award, which has been making the social media rounds.

hello kanada.
hello kanadian music-writers.
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. and much respect for all y'all who write about local bands, who blow that horn loudly- because that trumpeting is crucial and necessary and important. 
and much respect to the freelancers especially, because freelancing is a hard fucking gig, and almost all of us are freelancers now, right? falling and scrambling and hustling through these difficult times?
so yes, we are grateful, and yes we are humble and we are shy to complain when we've been acknowledged thusly- BUT HOLY SHIT AND HOLY COW- we've been plowing our field on the margins of weird culture for almost 20 years now, and "this scene is pretty cool but what it really fucking needs is an awards show" is not a thought that's ever crossed our minds. 
3 quick bullet-points that almost anybody could agree on maybe=
-holding a gala during a time of austerity and normalized decline is a weird thing to do.
-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.
-asking the toyota motor company to help cover the tab for that gala, during a summer where the melting northern ice caps are live-streaming on the internet, IS FUCKING INSANE, and comes across as tone-deaf to the current horrifying malaise.
these are hard times for everybody. and musicians' blues are pretty low on the list of things in need of urgent correction BUT AND BUT if the point of this prize and party is acknowledging music-labor performed in the name of something other than quick money, well then 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- it would be truly nice to enjoy that hang, somewhere sometime where the point wasn't just lazy money patting itself on the back.
give the money to the kids let 'em put on their own goddamn parties, give the money to the olds and let them try to write opuses in spite of, but let the muchmusic videostars fight it out in the inconsequential middle, without gov't. culture-money in their pockets. 
us 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…
amen and amen.
apologies for being such bores,
we love you so much / our country is fucked,
godspeed you! black emperor

In case you haven't heard it and are interested, here is the winning album Alleluja! Don't Bend! Ascend!, their first in 10 years. Four compositions of musical ambition realized in dynamic and powerful form.