Juno Awards Nominees Hold Court
The Juno Awards nominations event in Toronto attracted a large contingent of nominees covering a wide range of award categories.
They ranged from some artists who already have multiple Junos in their trophy case to first-timers wearing broad smiles as their names were announced.
FYI corralled many of the nominees for comments on what a Juno nomination means for their career, as well as updates on what they are now or will soon be working on.
Here’s a random selection of their answers:
Whitehorse - Nominated for Blues Album of the Year (The Northern South Vol. 1): The roots-rock duo has earned earlier Juno nods, but never in the blues category. Luke Doucet notes that "the blues has been a small but important part of what we have done. The album was more of an art project, a way of going 'is it possible to blend the most contemporary elements of Whitehorse with a specific form of the blues?' – the early '50s when Delta artists came up to Chicago. Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Howlin' Wolf, they were trying to adapt and evolve.
Melissa McClelland: "There's a beauty in what comes out from people not really knowing what is happening. That's when magic happens."
Doucet on being mavericks in the category: "I get a certain kick out of that. I do think there is a blues ghetto that benefits from being tampered with."
Coleman Hell - Pop Album of the Year (Summerland): "This is my second trip to the Junos. It was for Breakthrough Artist last time, and now I've broken through! A nomination definitely helps put you on the national stage. It puts eyes and ears on you. Getting nominated for Pop Album now is good for me 'cos it's the first album I’ve ever put out. To be recognized is cool though I know I’m the underdog in the category."
Harrison - Electronic Album of the Year (Checkpoint Titanium): "I don’t like getting my hopes up for anything so I was super surprised at the nomination."
"I'm taking a short break, because of a little problem with my ears, but then I’ll be recording again. I'm trying to work with other artists too and I'd like to do some outside production too. Drake, give me a call. I'm there!"
Holy Fuck -- Electronic Album of the Year (Congrats). Graham Walsh: "We've been nominated before, for Alternative Album of the Year in 2008. It is a privilege to be here, it is just a small window of the greater landscape."
On his production work: "I'm currently working on an album with METZ. My wife, Julie Fader, and I have a project, Etiquette, and we're writing for that. I'm keeping very busy creatively and staying out of the cold."
Sultans of String -- World Music Album of the Year (Subcontinental Drift). Chris McKhool: "This is the third nomination for the group, and it is always a thrill. A nomination is a great way for people to see what the band is up to. When we tour internationally, it is another thing to help us be noticed. This one means a lot to us on a personal level too because we collaborated with Pakistani sitar master Anwar Khurshid. He now makes Canada his home and given what is happening in the world I think this is a beautiful example of what it means to be a Canadian, finding strength in diversity and the coming together of cultures."
The Dirty Nil - Breakthrough Group of the Year. Luke Bentham and Kyle Fisher: "This is our first Juno nomination. It is nice to have this as a platform for us, and it is really flattering to be included in a roster of such people. We are honoured."
"We have just got back from touring in Australia. It was awesome and hot. We got sunburned immediately, crispy fried. Now we're excited to tour Canada with Billy Talent and Monster Truck. We toured Europe with them, a triple header of Canadian rock n roll. We absolutely thrive on touring. We’re a travelling rock n roll band and we’re never stopping. If you stop you die!"
Billy Talent – Group of the Year and Rock Album of the Year (Afraid Of Heights). The group has been nominated for 21 earlier Juno Awards, and have won seven. Ian D'Sa (also nominated as Jack Richardson Producer of the Year): "We had been working as a band for 10 years before we got our first nomination. We are excited about this one as it has been a while since we’ve been part of anything like this. As I've gotten older I think I appreciate it more than when I was younger."
Jonathan Gallant: "We recently toured Europe for nearly two months That is a good way to get excited for the new Canadian tour."
The Fretless – Instrumental Album of the Year (Bird's Nest). Karrnnel Sawitsky (violin): "This is our first nomination. We are from all across Canada and we just get together to tour. I hope we can go to Ottawa. We have some new recording coming up and we’re all busy with other projects too. We just found out about the Juno train from Toronto to Ottawa (for nominees). That sounds like a headache the next day, but one we want!"
"We are looking to collaborate with other singers and songwriters too. Opening those doors is I think the biggest thing this nomination will bring."
The Strumbellas -- Juno Fan Choice award, Group Of The Year, Single of the Year (“Spirits”). David Ritter: “Our first nomination was a big turning point in our career. It really helped in terms of recognition and in the shows we were playing. It is just as exciting now as it was then.
“We are thrilled about performing on the Junos. It will be a big moment for us. We can’t reveal too much about what is in the works but I think it’ll be really exciting.”
Barbra Lica – Vocal Jazz Album of the Year: (I’m Still Learning). "It's my first nomination and I’m like a tourist here, taking photos! I just sent one to my mum. It is awesome cos you always want to be in the big pond. I want to get on the Juno train to Ottawa, I’ve never partied on a train before!"
"I am going to Banff in March for a songwriters program. I have five new songs already and am looking ahead to a 2018 release."
Exco Levi – Reggae Recording of the Year (“Siren”): “I’ve had six previous nominations and have won four Junos.
"You never get over the thrill. I was born in Jamaica before moving to this country and this is a joy.”
“Winning a Juno helps get grants, and it looks good in your bio but you still have to do the work. I’ve started on my second full-length album, to come out later this year.”
Okavango African Orchestra – World Music Album of the Year (Okavango African Orchestra). Tichaona Maredza: “This is the first nomination for me and it is very exciting. We had to learn how to get the instruments to work together, and once we figured that out we are very happy with how it turned out.”
Group producer Nadine McNulty: “The Orchestra represents nine countries in Africa, with 12 languages, representing 10 cultures and 12 languages. There are five composers in the group, and it took a year to work on all the songs together. I’m so proud of them.”
Donovan Woods – Songwriter of the Year ("Leaving Nashville," "The Driver," "What King Of Love Is That"). "This is my second time of being nominated [in 2014 he was nominated for Roots Traditional Album of the Year]. I didn't expect to be nominated in this category. There are some heavy hitters in the category so I don’t know how it’s going to go for me."
"It is easy to be cynical about these things but the first nomination really did help."
Sean Pinchin - Blues Album of the Year (Monkey Brain): "This is a huge step up from the Maple Blues Awards. This is a beautiful platform for me, and it’ll keep me inspired. I wanted to make another record this year, but it’s a lot of money and you sell less CDs each day. Positive feedback is key."