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
  • 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.

In the midst of social distancing, SOCAN continues to conduct video interviews with our members online – in our video series, “Staying Home with…” Today, it’s Sara Quin, of Tegan and Sara.

Among many other musical accomplishments, Tegan and Sara were signed by Neil Young’s Vapor Records at the age of 18, pplayed onstage at the Academy Awards, hosted the JUNO Awards (and won three), earned a Grammy nomination, won a SOCAN Award, toured with Taylor Swift and Katy Perry, and played Coachella.

Their most recent project was a memoir, High School, accompanied by an album of demos, and re-recordings of some of those demos from their teenage years, as well as live shows that included readings from the book, old home videos of the duo as teen girls, and acoustic-duo performances. At press time, reports surfaced that Tegan and Sara had signed a deal with Brad Pitt’s production company, Plan B Entertainment, to adapt High School into a television series.

We sat down to ask Sara Quin a bout the writing dynamic between herself and twin sister Tegan, both as young girls and grown adults, and the process of re-recording their early demos.

Words & Music is pleased to extend its helpful “how-to” series for our members, “The Breakdown,” into the realm of short, question-and-answer videos.

In this second episode, SOCAN A&R Representative Racquel Villagante talks with Kaya Pino, Music Supervisor at The Wilders, an award-winning group of music supervisors, composers, producers, and songwriters, who create and foster music that bring ideas to life, so that audiences experience them as their creators intended.

Our question this time is, “What are the specific things that songwriters and composers need to do when pitching you their music via e-mail, to consider for film or TV projects?”