TORONTO - Hours after winning the $30,000 Polaris music prize, the Montreal band Godspeed You! Black Emperor has lambasted Monday night's awards gala.
The band did not attend the ceremony, but said in a statement posted on the website for their label, Constellation Records, that they strongly disagreed with the tenor of the event.
"Holding a gala during a time of austerity and normalized decline is a weird thing to do," said the statement, which also said the band was "grateful" to receive the prize and "shy to complain."
"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."
A spokesman for the band who took the stage Monday night said that Godspeed You! Black Emperor would be giving the prize money toward music education and instruments in Quebec prisons.
The band's statement also took issue with the Polaris ceremony for asking Toyota to help pay for the gala "during a summer where the melting northern ice caps are live-streaming on the internet." It said that "comes across as tone-deaf to the current horrifying malaise."
Scion Canada — a division of Toyota Canada — was the presenting sponsor of this year's Polaris.
The statement went on to say: "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."
The band's members rarely grant interviews or choose to speak about their music publicly. They won the Polaris — given to the best Canadian album of the year — for "'Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!"
The record, a four-song movement that stands as the outfit's first new album in 10 years, beat out a field that included Toronto new-wave vets Metric, Calgary-reared pop twins Tegan and Sara and Montreal electronic duo Purity Ring.
The full statement can be seen at: http://cstrecords.com/statement-from-godspeed-you-black-emperor-on-polaris/
A spokesperson for the Polaris prize could not immediately be reached for comment.
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