If Canada tearing through the Grammy Awards last month wasn’t enough of an indication, Montreal is on a howling rampage. Wiping out Broken Social Scene and Tegan and Sara, Karkwa winning the 2010 Polaris Prize was more than just a musical milestone in Quebec history.
Reigning as the only French-Canadian artists to have won the Polaris, the Montreal-based quintet is reshaping Canadian indie rock landscapes, opening anglophone ears everywhere they go. Up for two Junos this year, Karkwa’s fourth record is a familiar knock at folk-rock and roll. While Louis-Jean pays lyrical homage to romance, “Les Chemins De Verre” is an operatic mass and full of percussive variety. Earning two well deserved Juno nominations including ‘Alternative Album of the Year’, Karkwa’s music is clearly here to stay.
What changed for Karkwa after winning 2010 Polaris Prize?
It didn’t change a lot to be honest. We’ve had a lot of calls from North American labels and agencies though. If anything, at the time we felt like we had to change our lives a little bit, but that was good for us. We worked hard in many francophone countries and in Quebec so it was time we started to get to new places.
What significance does breaking into the anglophone community mean to you guys?
It’s really exciting for us. We were the first francophone band to win the Polaris Prize and we are the first francophone artists to appear in an anglophone category for the Junos. It’s still hard for me to say ‘Alternative Album of the Year’, but here in Quebec we’re breaking down doors of languages and it’s really exciting time for us.
What are your expect38ations for the Juno Awards at the end of the month?
The Juno’s are a pretty big deal for us and it seems like Canada is really opening their minds. We’re seeing more obscure and less well known bands being nominated and its really exciting for us to be in the Alternative Album of the Year category. But we don’t have any expectations, we are just very happy to participate.
What do you think of Arcade Fire winning at The Grammy’s?
It’s like consecration for them, but also means a lot to us. As representatives of Montreal culture, it shows a growth and mix of Canadian language. Many bands form with both English and French language culture and I think Arcade Fire represent that culture mix. They sound like the power of youth in Montreal. I’m very happy for them.
Who would you like to work with next?
Daniel Lanois or Neil Young of Leonard Cohen. But we’re going to tour with Plants and Animals who play amazing music. Having worked with Patrick Watson was a really great experience.
Karkwa play Phoenix Concert Theater Saturday March 5, 2011
Words: Katherine Alicia Snack, Pinkmafia.com