For the past eight years, the Polaris Music Prize has honored the best Canadian album of the year. It’s accompanied by a gala to announce the winner, and this year the whole event is being livestreamed. Tonight’s performances include short list nominees Mac DeMarco, Owen Pallett, Jessy Lanza, Basia Bulat, Shad, and Tanya Tagaq. The event is hosted by Jay Baruchel. Members of Arcade Fire, YAMANTAKA // SONIC TITAN, and Timber Timbre will be in attendance. (Drake’s performing a show in Hollywood tonight.) Each nominee will be announced by friends and family members that were picked by the artists themselves. The winner will receive a $30,000 cash prize. The show starts at 8PM EST and you can stream the whole thing below.
Arcade Fire – Reflektor presented by Owen Pallett
Basia Bulat – Tall Tall Shadow presented by Sean Michaels
Drake – Nothing Was The Same presenter TBD
Jessy Lanza – Pull My Hair Back presented by Judy Lanza (Jessy’s mom)
Mac DeMarco – Salad Days presented by Chaz
Owen Pallett – In Conflict presented by Sarah Liss
Shad – Flying Colours presented by Ty Harper
Tanya Tagaq – Animism presented by Geoff Berner
Timber Timbre – Hot Dreams presented by Tasseomancy
YAMANTAKA // SONIC TITAN – UZU presented by Richard Trapunski
A Grand Jury of 11 members deliberate the merits of each album on the short list and decide the winner while the gala is ongoing. Billboard asked the nominated artists about the high-pressure voting process and here’s what some of them had to say:
Mac DeMarco: “That’s a funny idea, people having a debate over my album. That’s kind of fun. That’s also interesting and maybe flattering and maybe kind of terrifying. It’s very strange, especially after you tell me it was in a Masonic Temple, yeah, a pretty strange scene as far as what I can put together in my head, but pretty cool, I think [laughs]. Yeah, that’s kind of weird [in deep whispery voice] ‘A grand jury decides your worth.’ Kind of crazy.”
Owen Pallett: “The year that Heartland lost to Karkwa, I had some drunken jurors telling me all sorts of shit that night. I had to actually call [Polaris founder] Steve Jordan and say, ‘You gotta tighten up your confidentiality. It doesn’t really make me happy to hear which music writers were shutting me down.'”
Jessy Lanza: “It’s very flattering to know that people are taking that much time to think about something that I’ve done because when I made the record, I didn’t even know if it was going to be released. So it’s great. But, of course, it makes me a little bit anxious because obviously people will have good things to say and bad things to say, but I don’t have any other stronger feelings other than I’m very humbled that people would be pouring over details of my album. So it’s a very pleasant surprise for me.”
Read more artist responses here.