SOCAN spent the nights of March 11 and 13, 2023, in the media room of the JUNO Awards Galas, where most of the winners come after they win, to reply to questions from a roomful of Canadian music journalists. Here’s what some of them said…

Chad Kroeger, of Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductees Nickelback, on enduring so much criticism over the years
“We have been the whipping boys of the music industry for way too long. It’s nice to see a change. We don’t kill puppies. We’re not in the press on  a regular basis doing terrible things. We’re four guys that make music, and we have been absolutely ripped through the mud, and worse, for a good 15 years of our 27-year career. So, what’s it like? It fuckin’ sucks. What’s it like to win this award tonight? Fuckin’ redemption.”

Fans Choice Award winner Avril Lavigne, on continuing to win JUNOs after a two-decade career
“This is an award show that I watched growing up, so just coming back here, back to my roots, it’s really reflective for me to just look back at the last 20 years… I’m so grateful to still be here making music, and performing, being on tour, being at the JUNOs. I’m so thankful, and it means a lot.”

JUNOs Broadcast Awards performer Aysanabee, on coming so far so fast in his career
“I didn’t know what to expect since working with Amanda [Rheaume] and Shoshona [Kish]. They founded Ishkode Records, one of the first Indigenous- and female-owned record labels in the country. Just by spending tine with them, their careers… It’s been wild. We did, like, 184 shows last year. We travelled all over the place… We’re one of the hardest-working labels in the country. Definitely a lot of gratitude, but a lot of work, too. I’m not just doing this for myself, I’m doing this for Ishkode, and Amanda, and Shoshona, and everything we’re trying to do at that label.”

Rap Album of the Year winner TOBi, on the meaning of performing with the historical giants of Canadian hip-hop, upon whose shoulders he stands
“For hip-hop, we always felt like we were on the margins of music, and tonight I think we represented as best as we could. We put [it] on for the voices around the world that felt voiceless. We carry a lot of weight on our shoulders as artists, especially as hip-hop artists, and I think we all represented, in beautiful ways. We’re all Canadian, but we can also trace our lineages to Africa, the Caribbean, the West Indies. This is the cultural mosaic of Canada, posting ourselves up on the stage. It truly is an important and  valuable piece of work that we’re doing. I’m so honoured to be here onstage with all of these people. I know that they paved the way for so many youth, and we’re going to continue to do that with this beautiful thing called hip-hop.”

R&B Album of the Year winner (her fifth JUNO Award) Jessie Reyez, on how she stays true to her roots despite her success
“I’m really fortunate to be surrounded by people who care about me. And they’re real with me, even when the realness is something that you might not want to communicate. I try my best to stay present. It might not be the best quality to have, but I’m constantly on a self-improvement quest. So that includes making sure that I’m rooted. It’s easy for it to happen – people get jaded all the time in this industry – but I’m gripping onto dear life, man, and it’s going good so far, thank God.”

Producer of the Year winner Akeel Henry, on how his producing has changed over the years
“When I was younger, it was about, like, ‘I can make a beat in 10 minutes.’ Now it’s, like, I make a song in three weeks… It feels amazing, because people are finally listening to the music. For most of my life, nobody was listening.”

Shoshona Kish of Digging Roots, who won Contemporary Indigenous Artist or Group of the Year, on what “Land Back” looks like to her
“For me it’s not about taking something. It’s about standing in our place on this beautiful earth, in the most beautiful, respectful way that we can, and taking the leadership from the original custodians, that is due. Our elders can show us the way. They know the songs of the land, they know the teachings of the land, they know how to walk gently on this place. Land Back, for me, is about looking to them, and going back to a place where we have the rightful respect for this beautiful, beautiful place that we share as home.”

Dylan Sinclair, co-winner (with Savannah Ré) of Traditional R&B/Soul Recording of the Year, on the challenge of getting R&B music heard widely
“I’ve definitely noticed that it is a bit more difficult to break into the mainstream, being an R&B artist. For one, I’m actually OK with that – at least this far into my career. But I also believe that artistry sells. True, genuine artistry, and a story. So I’m just trying to be as genuine as I can to my story.”

Max Kerman of Arkells, who won Group of the Year for the sixth time (a record), on staying true to their audience
“Maybe one of the reasons people vote for us is they know what fuckin’ try-hards we are, ‘cause we know what a precious thing this is, and we really love the work. I think one of the keys to our success is that we’ve been able to stay very grounded in the reality that this is an impossible job to have. To be musicians that write your own songs, and get to perform them as your living, it’s like, point-zero-one percent of musicians in the world that get to do that. We always have that in the back of our minds.”

Contemporary Roots Album of the Year winners Bros. Landreth on how the new experience of fatherhood, for both of them, might affect their songwriting
David Landreth:
“We’ve always endeavoured to wear our hearts on our sleeves in terms of our songwriting. We try not to go into the creative process with an agenda. We really do go in with a bit of an open slate and just start pulling at threads to see what’s there, what we feel like exploring. When we were making this record, my son had just been born, and Joey’s wife wasn’t even pregnant yet. I do anticipate when we do start writing some songs, that it’ll be a huge influence.”
Joey Landreth: “Kids are just so pure in their creativity, they’re not afraid to chase whatever curiosity they have. I find that really inspiring as an artist, to try and channel.

Country Album of the Year winner Tenille Townes, on co-writing with Bryan Adams
“It was a pipe-dream process of burning it onto a CD and FedEx-ing it to the studio that Bryan works at. He randomly got the envelope, opened it up, as was, like, ‘Yeah, I would love to sing on this song.’ He e-mailed me, and I still cannot believe that that actually happened. He was incredible. He called me shortly after that first e-mail, and he was, like, ‘I love this song, love the visuals of everything that’s in the verse.’ He had some incredible ideas to add to the chorus… I really appreciate him as a songwriter, how visual he really is… We talked on the phone several times, months of going back and forth: sending guitar parts, changing lines, sending vocals. I learned a lot from him through the whole process. He’s such a remarkable writer.”