Godspeed You! Black Emperor Wins the Polaris Music Prize (Canada)

by Matthew Downes

This may prove to be a monumental day for music in the wonderful country of Canada.  If you remember our post on “music awards that matter“, back in July, you’l see that the short list was filled with quality competition including, but not limited too, Tegan & Sara, Metric and METZ.  In the end, the jurors voted and Godspeed You! Black Emperor won the Polars Music Prize with their album Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!.

Godspeed wasn’t able to attend (and the response below will probably indicate why) so one of their label representatives, Ian Ilavsky of Constellation Records, had to accept the award on their behalf.  He had no speech prepared, but obviously had contact with the band about what to do with the $30k reward given to the grand prize winner.  He stated that the band would like to donate the money to the purchase of musical instruments and musical education for Quebec prisoners.  Quite the noble deed, or is it?  Seems like a typical move for them if you ask me.

Where they win in my book is two things.  One their music is original (and outstanding). Two, they took the time to acknowledge the musical writers who brought their albums and careers to the surface (again).  Without a facebook, twitter or an updated website they’ve leveraged appearances at major festivals, a nationwide headlining tour and a direct support tour with NIN. Pretty good job Godspeed, please don’t let another 10 years go between records.

Here is their presser from yesterday:


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

They are still touring, go check them out they were fantastic at the Fonda a couple weeks back.

ktc mgmt

TAGS: DevilSlow Me? White Prince, Music won yesterday, Choir Choir performs “Closer“, Mercury Award up October 30th!