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culture

The 2013 Polaris Prize Shortlist Includes Metz, Zaki Ibrahim, and Metric

Three Toronto-based acts are up for the 2013 Polaris Music Prize.

A heat-stroked crowd of musicians, journalists, and assorted music-industry types took refuge inside the Drake Hotel ballroom today to hear the announcement of the 2013 Polaris Music Prize shortlist. Three Torontonian acts were among the ten nominees, including perennial favourites Metric, noise-rock act METZ, and R&B singer Zaki Ibrahim, who was born in British Columbia, got her musical start in Toronto, and currently splits her time between here and Cape Town, South Africa.

Also on the list was A Tribe Called Red, Colin Stetson, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Purity Ring, Tegan and Sara, Whitehorse, and Young Galaxy.

The ten albums were selected from a long list of 40, by a jury made up of over 200 music journalists, bloggers, and broadcasters. The Polaris Prize honours Canadian recorded music with artistic merit, regardless of genre or sales numbers.

The winner of this year’s Polaris Prize will take home $30,000, while the nine other shortlist nominees will all get $2,000. The award ceremony is on September 23.

Both METZ and Ibrahim were first-time nominees. Ibrahim said that she was thrilled to be nominated for her full-length debut, Every Opposite, because the Polaris Prize is chosen by “the people that have their ear to the ground.”

“These are the people that get people to listen to the music,” she said. “It doesn’t have anything to do with sales or marketing or anything, and that’s amazing.”

She added that she was very impressed with the list as a whole.

“I just started listening to A Tribe Called Red, and I didn’t know what to expect,” she said. “I’ve never heard anything like them before. They’re amazing. Young Galaxy are great. I’m going straight home to listen to everybody’s album.”

METZ bassist Chris Slorach says that the nomination is just the latest in a series of surprises for the band over the last 12 months. The group’s self-titled debut has been celebrated not just domestically, but also by international outlets like Pitchfork and the Guardian.

“There’s nothing not to be stoked about,” he says. “This has been a year of really pleasant surprises…Putting out the record was a big surprise. We’ve been touring non-stop since October. It’s been a great year of personal successes and this is another one to add to the list.”

The gathering also saw the introduction of two new hosts for this year’s Polaris Music Prize gala, to be held in September. Since 2007, the event has been hosted by CBC Radio 3’s Grant Lawrence. This year’s event will be co-hosted by two former Polaris nominees, Kathleen Edwards and Shad. Both aritsts have been shortlisted twice—Edwards in 2008 and 2012, Shad in 2008 and and 2010—but neither has ever taken home the big prize.

“As two-time Polaris losers, we’re both really happy to be back here for more humiliation,” said Shad, tongue planted firmly in cheek.

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