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‘I Feel a Little Weird About It’: What 2014’s Polaris Prize Short-Listers Think About the Voting Process

Billboard told each artist about Polaris' grand jury duty -- then asked: How does it make you feel knowing that, behind closed doors, while the gala is happening, that the members of the Grand Jury…

Billboard told each artist about Polaris’ grand jury duty — then asked: How does it make you feel knowing that, behind closed doors, while the gala is happening, that the members of the Grand Jury have all studied and picked apart your album, with one person there as your champion, with everyone debating its merits, and if it should, or shouldn’t, win?

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Arcade Fire (Reflektor): Declined to answer.

Basia Bulat (Tall Tall Shadow): “As a musician, music criticism is still very important to me. I’m very grateful that there’s still a music press. It’s harder and harder every day for everybody. So it’s really cool to have a night to get excited about music and to be part of a conversation. At the end of the day, the concept of Best Album is a very nebulous one because those terms are very subjective. I love the fact that everybody is talking about music and my dream is for that to happen every day. And so it’s amazing and an honor to be a part of it and to be part of that conversation, but I would be loathe to speculate any further on that. I feel like my job is to write and not to think about that side of things too much. I feel like it almost would be a negative thing to spend too much time thinking about how other people might perceive my music and how they might argue about things or talk about the record. There’s so many different ways to interpret an album and my job is really to stay out of it.”

Drake (Nothing Was The Same): Declined to answer.

Jessy Lanza (Pull Back My Hair): “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.”

Mac DeMarco (Salad Days): “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 (In Conflict): “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 gottta tighten up your confidentiality. It doesn’t really make me happy to hear which music writers were shutting me down.’”

Shad (Flying Colours): “I’ve heard it’s really intense, which is cool. That’s the whole spirit of this thing is people take music seriously — not too seriously; we love it as fans, but yeah man, it matters to people’s lives and to culture. It’s super cool. They don’t talk about it after the experience. It feels really cool. It’s cool. It’s cool because it doesn’t happen that often. And definitely as someone who makes albums, you think about every single millimeter of our music. Should we take out that hi-hat there? It might be a 15-minute decision, so that’s cool. It feels good.”

Tanya Tagaq (Animism): “That doesn’t really bother me. Criticism is great in a lot of ways but it makes me feel very happy that there is somebody in there that is excited about it and even thinks that it deserves to win or even be on the short-list of the long list r anything I’m pretty happy about it. But, yeah, it’s nerve-wracking in the sense that that is what it’s supposed to be. If you get 10 people together and there’s one thing to be one, it’s meant to be nerve-wracking isn’t it. Otherwise they’d just award it to someone. “

Timber Timbre (Hot Dreams): Declined to answer.

Yamantaka//Sonic Titan (UZU): “They can just listen to the same thing we’ve listened to a bunch of times and they’ll probably hate it just as much.” — Ruby Kato Attwood

“I feel a little weird about it. I produced and recorded it; I did almost all the engineering so when they’re going over the production, other people are like ‘I should have paid the guy more. It’s not my problem.’ I’m like, ‘It’s all my fault. It’s my fault.’ Like it wasn’t just my performance. It’s my production.” — Alaska B.