Polaris victor Kaytranada. Photo: Danny Williams
Polaris victor Kaytranada. Photo: Danny Williams

Kaytranada Takes the 2016 Polaris Prize

It was 100% a good night for Kaytranada at the Polaris Prize Gala in Toronto last night. The Montreal-based producer won the coveted Prize and $50,000 for his album 99.9 %.

The announcement and the presentation came after a lengthy near three-hour awards ceremony that included performances from seven of the 10 Polaris shortlist nominees.

Kaytranada received the Prize from last year’s winner, Buffy Sainte-Marie. In a very short acceptance speech, the 24 year-old, born Louis Kevin Celestin noted that “For me, it’s crazy to get this award. It’s really, truly, a big honour. It’s amazing. Ceci est pour Montréal, tous mes Montréalais. Shout outs to all of y’all.  I want to thank the judges and everybody for voting for me. It’s an honour man, I don’t know what to say.”

This was certainly a happier outcome for Kaytranada than that of the 2016 Juno Awards. His track "At All" initially made the Juno list for Dance Recording of the Year--but was pulled after the discovery that it had been released prior to the eligibility period. 

Each of the nine runners up – Black Mountain, Basia Bulat, GRIMES, Carly Rae Jepsen, Jessy Lanza, PUP, Andy Shauf, U.S. Girls and White Lung – were awarded $3,000, courtesy of Slaight Music.

Kaytranada joins past winners of The Polaris Music Prize – Buffy Sainte-Marie (2015), Tanya Tagaq (2014), Godspeed You! Black Emperor (2013), Feist (2012), Arcade Fire (2011), Karkwa (2010), Fucked Up (2009), Caribou (2008), Patrick Watson (2007), and Final Fantasy / Owen Pallett (2006)

Now in its 11th year, the Gala, held at the elegant Carlu, was another sold-out success, one attracting the heavy hitters of the Canadian music industry plus many of the music writers and broadcasters who make up the Jury that select the nominees. The Grand Jury that chose the winner on the night comprised 11 jurors.

After thanking all the sponsors and supporters of the Polaris Prize, CEO and Founder Steve Jordan gave a passionate tribute to two ailing comrades, Andreanne Sasseville and Gord Downie, whom he termed “a godfather of Polaris” before dedicating the evening to The Tragically Hip.

Those performing two (or in some cases) songs apiece at the show were Black Mountain, Jessy Lanza, Basia Bulat, Carly Rae Jepsen, Andy Shauf, White Lung and U.S. Girls. The other nominees were PUP (off touring in Europe), Kaytranada and Grimes. Some of the performances utilised members of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, an organization with whom Polaris has been collaborating.

The lighting utilized in the show was top-notch. Sadly the same can’t be said of the sound. It was decidedly inferior for most of the show, and many of the taped introductions and endorsements of each nominee were near inaudible. Still, you can bet that Andy Shauf and US Girls got a serious kick out of being championed by, respectively, Jeff Tweedy of Wilco and Iggy Pop. That sure eases the pain of losing. 

During the Gala, Derrick Ross of Slaight Music announced the nominees for the 2016 Slaight Family Polaris Heritage Prize, one designed to honour classic Canadian albums released prior to the inception of Polaris. Ten albums are nominated in each of four different eras, with two to be chosen from each era. Public participation is encouraged and voting is now open. These winners will be announced on October 24th. View the nominees here

Polaris Music Prize, produced by Blue Ant Media, is a not-for-profit organization that annually honours and rewards artists who produce Canadian music albums of distinction. A select panel of music critics judge and award the Prize without regard to musical genre or commercial popularity.



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