Inuit throat singer Tanya Tagaq has claimed the $30,000 Polaris Music Prize for 2014, awarded to the best Canadian album of the past year, beating former winners Arcade Fire as well as Mac DeMarco and Drake.
Tagaq was awarded the prize for her third album Animism, beating out her arguably higher-profile competitors Arcade Fire, nominated for their record Reflektor, Drake and his album Nothing Was the Same and Mac DeMarco’s Salad Days. “The album itself came from a very awesome place,” Tagaq said in her acceptance speech. “I couldn’t be more happy.”
Recipients of the Polaris Prize are determined by an 11-member jury of music journalists, bloggers, and broadcasters who are entrusted with the task of choosing the best Canadian album of the past year based on its artistic merit alone, disregarding factors such as genre or number of albums sold. Their decision can often be somewhat controversial.
Last year’s prize was awarded to Godspeed You! Black Emperor for their album Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!, however the anti-corporate rockers refused to attend the award ceremony, donated their winnings to charity and released a statement criticising the event.
“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,” read the statement.
This was the third Polaris nomination for the Inuit throat singer, who first came to notoriety through her collaborations with Björk, and her first ever win. She also surprised the audience by making an impassioned proclamation during her speech, imploring people to wear and eat seal. “Fuck PETA,” she said.
“People should wear and eat seal as much as possible because if you can imagine an indigenous culture thriving and surviving on sustainable resource, wearing seal and eating it, it’s delicious and there’s lots of them,” she told the audience. “I really believe that if hipsters can make flower beards in, then you can do it with seal. Come on guys.”
Watch: Tanya Tagaq – Animism – Album Trailer
Polaris Prize 2014 Shortlist
Arcade Fire – Reflektor
Basia Bulat – Tall Tall Shadow
Drake – Nothing Was The Same
Jessy Lanza – Pull My Hair Back
Mac DeMarco – Salad Days
Owen Pallett – In Conflict
Shad – Flying Colours
Timber Timbre – Hot Dreams
Yamantaka // Sonic Titan – Uzu
Tanya Tagaq – Animism