Since 2006, the Polaris Music Prize has been one of the landmark events on the Canadian music calendar. After months of buildup via nomination announcements and much debate, the winner of the 2013 instalment of the award has been announced: 'Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend! by Godspeed You! Black Emperor.
In winning the eighth instalment of prize, announced tonight (September 23) at a gala at the Carlu in Toronto, Godspeed You! Black Emperor take home $30,000. The band beat out fellow longlist nominees A Tribe Called Red, Zaki Ibrahim, Metric, METZ, Purity Ring, Colin Stetson, Tegan and Sara, Whitehorse, and Young Galaxy.
Godspeed weren't on hand, so Constellation Records' Ian Ilavsky accepted the prize on behalf of the band. He said that the group would use the money to support musical instruments and educations in Quebec prisons. Explaining that he didn't have any prepared remarks, Ilavsky said:
I have know the band for almost 20 years — they've been at it for almost 20 years — and I do know that they want to strongly and unequivocally thank everybody involved in the voting and judging process of Polaris: writers, critics, bloggers, promoters, programmers, radio DJs, and music-makers, label people, industry people, who care about independent music and who think that independent music still has a promise to do something in terms of its choices and its structures and its methods that is counter to the mainstream, not only in the kind of music that we all support, but in the ways that we go about bringing it to people, how we bring it to the marketplace and so forth.
So any of you that know about Godspeed know the choices that they have mostly made and have remained relatively silent about. So Godspeed thanks those people that keep caring about music and writing about it and championing it on those terms and hope that that continues to be part of the conversation and the cultural consciousness we're all trying to build, by being committed and devoted to independent music, and independent means of production.
UPDATE: Godspeed have since issued a statement about their win, decrying "corporate banners and culture overlords." You can read it here.
The winner was chosen by an 11-member grand jury, which was selected from the prize's national jury of more than 200 journalists, broadcasters and bloggers. Voting on the best Canadian albums released between June 2012 and May 2013 based on artistic merit alone, the grand jury's decision was announced at the Polaris Music Prize Gala, hosted by former nominees Kathleen Edwards and Shad.
The majority of the nominees played the gala, though Godspeed did not. Feist presented the award.
Godspeed You! Black Emperor now joins a list of Polaris winners that includes Feist (2012), Arcade Fire (2011), Karkwa (2010), Fucked Up (2009), Caribou (2008), Patrick Watson (2007) and Final Fantasy (2006).
Read Exclaim!'s review of 'Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!, which received our Mark of Excellence, here.
The artists and albums that made the Polaris Music Prize 2013 shortlist are as follows:
A Tribe Called Red - Nation II Nation
Godspeed You! Black Emperor - 'Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!
Zaki Ibrahim - Every Opposite
Metric - Synthetica
METZ - METZ
Purity Ring - Shrines
Colin Stetson - New History Warfare Vol. 3: To See More Light
Tegan and Sara - Heartthrob
Whitehorse - The Fate of the World Depends On This Kiss
Young Galaxy - Ultramarine