Godspeed You! Black Emperor condemns music contest they won, vows to use money to buy instruments for prisoners


Canadian band Godspeed You! Black Emperor won the Polaris Music Prize, awarded at a giant gala sponsored by Toyota. The band celebrated by releasing a scathing statement condemning the whole affair as a "FUCKING INSANE" and "tone-deaf to the current horrifying malaise." It's a pretty remarkable and brave statement. I knew GY!BE's frontman, Efrim, in high school, where we were in the same writing workshop. It's good to see that he's still in top form (if you're reading this, Efrim, seriously: good one). The band is using the prize money "to try to set up a program so that prisoners in quebec have musical instruments if they need them."

3 quick bullet-points that almost anybody could agree on maybe=

-holding a gala during a time of austerity and normalized decline is a weird thing to do.

-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.

-asking the toyota motor company to help cover the tab for that gala, during a summer where the melting northern ice caps are live-streaming on the internet, IS FUCKING INSANE, and comes across as tone-deaf to the current horrifying malaise.

these are hard times for everybody. and musicians’ blues are pretty low on the list of things in need of urgent correction BUT AND BUT 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. and maybe a party thusly is long overdue- it would be truly nice to enjoy that hang, somewhere sometime where the point wasn’t just lazy money patting itself on the back.

give the money to the kids let ‘em put on their own goddamn parties, give the money to the olds and let them try to write opuses in spite of, but let the muchmusic videostars fight it out in the inconsequential middle, without gov’t. culture-money in their pockets.

us we’re gonna use the money to try to set up a program so that prisoners in quebec have musical instruments if they need them…

Statement from Godspeed You! Black Emperor on Polaris (Thanks, Tobias!)

Notable Replies

  1. There are alternatives to Ticketmaster remaining? I thought they had carpetbombed all competitors into the dirt using their headlock on venues etc.

  2. "if you're reading this, Ephrim, seriously: good one"

    I saw his side project, A Silver Mt. Zion in Seattle last year. He mocked Boing Boing as an example of internet culture onstage. I somehow doubt he is reading this.

  3. mzed says:

    This reminds me of GWAR being nominated for a Grammy.

  4. rider says:

    Damn you corporate scum. Now please everyone buy $120 tickets to see us on tour with Nine Inch Nails.

    Snobish artists have been giving the finger to awards for decades. I don't see anything bold or remarkable about it.

  5. Unlike many of their cohort in that crumpled, mildewey box someone has scrawled "post-rock" on, GY!BE are not content to merely provide their listeners with low-carbon electronic offerings over the net. No, they've got to stage a nation-wide tour using massive sets trucked from venue to venue by diesel-guzzling semis. But it's okay. They offset that by bitching about a little awards ceremony being supported by Toyota.

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