SOCAN member Backxwash won the 2020 edition of the $50,000 Polaris Prize for the best album in Canada, on Oct. 19, 2020, in an online version of the event, broadcast from the empty stage of The Carlu, in downtown Toronto.
Backxwash’s winning album, God Has Nothing To Do With This Leave Him Out Of It, combines heavy metal samples, hip-hop beats, and dark subject matter to express a unique and personal vision – and a compelling work, on which the 11-person Polaris Grand Jury agreed.
Backxwash accepted the award, virtually, from last year’s winner Haviah Mighty. In a brief online media conference after her win, she seemed truly surprised and overjoyed, saying, “I don’t believe it. It’s trippy. It’s awesome!” She called the win “symbolic,” adding that the album “is the most like myself I’ve ever been… I have so many self-esteem issues, so it’s hard to believe that people like it.” She also said that “the most important thing is to make the music you want to make.”
Asked about the contrast between her joyful nature and the darkness of her music, Backxwash said “ some of the lyrics [on the album] I’ve never said out loud [until I recorded them]… the lyrics come from a really deep place inside of me.” Asked how she would spend the prize money, Backxwash said, “There’s no plans yet, but it’s probably going to go into the next record,” which she said would likely come out in Spring or Summer of 2021, and will be something like a horror anthology of songs, based on characters in her life.
In place of the usual live gala, the 15th annual edition this year featured a series of 10 short films, each created by a filmmaker in collaboration with one of the nominated artists, and introduced by host CBC’s Saroja Coelho.
While Backxwash received $50,000 for the win, the nine other short list nominees each received $3,000, courtesy of Slaight Music. The 2020 Polaris short list was:
- Backxwash – God Has Nothing To Do With This Leave Him Out Of It
- Caribou – Suddenly
- Junia-T – Studio Monk
- Kaytranada – Bubba
- nêhiyawak – nipiy
- Pantayo – Pantayo
- Lido Pimienta – Miss Colombia
- Jessie Reyez – BEFORE LOVE CAME TO KILL US
- U.S. Girls – Heavy Light
- Witch Prophet – DNA Activation
During the online event, SOCAN Interim CEO Jennifer Brown congratulated the nominees on such great career achievements, and reminded them of SOCAN’s support for their work.