Caribou wins Polaris Music Prize

-- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:57 PM ET

TORONTO - It took changing his moniker from the name of a province to an animal, but in the end it made Dan Snaith a somewhat richer man.

Snaith, known in most Canadian music circles as the brains behind electronic outfit Caribou, won the third annual Polaris Music Prize (and $20,000 cash) in a gala ceremony Monday night at Toronto's Phoenix Concert Theatre for his album Andorra.

"Wow, if I seem completely overwhelmed it's because I am," the humble Snaith said onstage, looking somewhat shocked. "I feel so lucky and so proud to be included in such an incredible group of musicians and albums both in the shortlist and the long list."

The album was one of 10 in the running for the award which was decided among 11 panelists consisting of journalists and music critics backstage, including Sun Media's Darryl Sterdan.

Backstage Snaith, one of three artists who did not perform at the ceremony but videotaped a performance to be shown during the roughly two-hour award show, said he hadn't considered the possibility of winning so had no idea what he would do with the money.

"I've been saying facetiously that $20,000 is the price of space tourism in a couple of years, so I might go to space," he said. "But I'm going to reserve the right to rethink that now that I actually have to give this answer seriously."

Just a few years ago Snaith was given a "quick education" in American trademark law when he was taken to court by Richard Manitoba, lead singer of the punk band The Dictators. The lawsuit forced him to change the band name to Caribou.

"Not only did I feel like I was going to be starting from scratch again," Snaith said. "I just wanted to make music all the time and sustain myself doing that. And I was just doing that when the lawsuit happened. I was so worried that that was all going to disappear."

But Snaith persevered, recording Andorra in rather cozy and comfortable confines.

"This experience is so far away from me making an album in my bedroom," Snaith said. "I mean it's the antithesis of this."

The ceremony, which will be airing on City-TV in the coming weeks, was highlighted by stellar performances from Toronto electro-rock band Holy F---, Vancouver hard rock group Black Mountain and Ottawa singer-songwriter Kathleen Edwards.

Edwards might have had the biggest hurdle to overcome during her two-song set when a fan or air conditioning came on during The Cheapest Key and made a lot of noise. As a result, Edwards and guitarist Jim Bryson simply played louder.

"It's cheaper than a band," Edwards quipped.

As well, The Weakerthans' videotaped performance of Night Windows took a little while to start as the show experienced "technical difficulties."

Elsewhere, hip-hop artist Shad spun his with through rhymes while Prince Edward Island power pop newcomers Two Hours Traffic showed they were well worthy of making the short list. And Basia Bulat seemed to channel the spirit of Mother Maybelle Carter while strumming the auto harp for her song In The Night.

Perhaps the biggest boos of the night were for 2007 Polaris Music Prize winner Patrick Watson. Watson, working on a new studio album and expecting to be a father soon, was unable to attend the ceremony in person. Instead, he recorded 10 different clips for each artist nominated, jokingly stating 2007 nominees (and fellow Montreal band) The Besnard Lakes won the 2008 Polaris Music Prize.


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