The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, the organization that bestows the Juno Awards, has defended its decision to nominate Arcade Fire for group of the year in light of accusations of sexual misconduct that have been levied against frontman Win Butler. The 2023 Juno nominations were announced on Tuesday, and the awards will be presented on March 13.
“We look at Arcade Fire’s nomination for group of the year as one for the entire band,” the Academy wrote in a statement to CBC Music. “While we take the allegations very seriously, in this situation we are also honouring the rest of the band for their success. We hope the allegations against Butler will not detract from the achievements of the other group members.”
The Junos are the Canadian equivalent of the Grammys, or the Brits in the U.K. Arcade Fire, which also includes Butler’s wife Régine Chassagne, Richard Reed Parry, Tim Kingsbury and Jeremy Gara, have previously won 11 Juno Awards, including a record-tying three awards for album of the year.
The nomination for group of the year is the band’s only Juno nod this year. By contrast, the band received four nominations in 2018, the year of its previous studio album, Everything Now. The band also received an honorary international achievement award that year.
Butler has faced controversy in recent months due to a series of investigations by the website Pitchfork in which five people accused him of sexual misconduct. The first report was published on Aug. 27. The alleged incidents took place between 2015 and 2020. (Within that time frame, in 2016, Arcade Fire was named humanitarian of the year at the Juno Awards.)
In response to the Pitchfork report, Butler released a lengthy statement which read in part: “I have had consensual relationships outside of my marriage. … I have connected with people in person, at shows, and through social media, and I have shared messages of which I am not proud. Most importantly, every single one of these interactions has been mutual and always between consenting adults. It is deeply revisionist, and frankly just wrong, for anyone to suggest otherwise.
“I have never touched a woman against her will, and any implication that I have is simply false. I vehemently deny any suggestion that I forced myself on a woman or demanded sexual favors. That simply, and unequivocally, never happened.
“While these relationships were all consensual, I am very sorry to anyone who I have hurt with my behavior. Life is filled with tremendous pain and error, and I never want to be part of causing someone else’s pain.”
In the aftermath of Pitchfork’s investigation, Feist canceled her planned appearances as a support act on an Arcade Fire tour through Europe and the U.K. Beck withdrew from opening for the band on a North American tour.
In a message shared to her Instagram account on Sept. 1, Feist said: “At a pub in Dublin, after rehearsing with my band, I read the same headline you did. We didn’t have any time to prepare for what was coming let alone a chance to decide not to fly across the ocean into the belly of this situation. This has been incredibly difficult for me and I can only imagine how much more difficult it’s been for the people who came forward. More than anything I wish healing to those involved.”
She also shared that the charges put her in an impossible position. “To stay on tour would symbolize I was either defending or ignoring the harm caused by Win Butler and to leave would imply I was the judge and jury.”
Beck withdrew from the planned North American tour in mid-October without providing a reason for his departure.
The band’s sixth studio album, We, debuted and peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard 200, breaking a string of three consecutive No. 1 albums by the band. It logged just two weeks on the chart, the briefest stay for any of the band’s albums.
We is vying for best alternative music album at this weekend’s Grammy Awards, but that nomination hasn’t stirred the same degree of controversy as the Juno nod has in the band’s home country. All six of the band’s studio albums have been nominated for best alternative music album. Only three other acts have received six or more nods in the category’s history. Björk leads with nine nods. Radiohead and Beck follow with eight.
Billboard reached out to both the Junos and the Grammys for additional comment.
If you or someone you know has experienced sexual assault, you can reach out to RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-4673 or chat at online.rainn.org 24/7 for confidential support.