SACKVILLE, N.B. – A band that got its start in Sackville is among contenders shortlisted for a national music award that comes with not only prestige but a $50,000 prize.
Partner, an indie-rock band comprised of Josée Caron and Lucy Niles, is in the running for the Polaris Music Prize, an award given annually to the best full-length Canadian album, judged solely on artistic merit and not by record sales or genre.
The shortlist of 10 Canadian acts who will vie for the coveted award was announced last month and the duo was ecstatic when they heard they had made the cut.
“We were super pumped,” said Niles, who was watching Neil Young perform at the Festival d’ete de Quebec when they received the news from their manager. “We were jumping up and down and telling all our friends around us … we just couldn’t keep it to ourselves.”
Niles said she and Caron were already thrilled by making the longlist earlier this year for their debut album In Search of Lost Time. But when they discovered they had made it to the top 10 in the competition, they were “floored.”
“I couldn’t believe it,” said Niles. “I never would have imagined in a million years we’d make the shortlist.”
Partner also won the SOCAN Songwriting Prize earlier this summer for their song Play the Field, one of the singles from the album.
Caron and Niles met in 2010 at Mount Allison University and have been best friends since. As students, the openly lesbian musicians played with various bands but, after graduation with many of their other bandmates leaving Sackville, they decided to make a go of it on their own.
“It was just the two of us, playing music, writing songs … it kind of gave us a new perspective,” said Niles.
Sackville, she said, helped give the band its start and they are both thankful for the support they received from the community before leaving for their new home of Windsor, Ont., about two years ago.
She said Sackville musicians are so encouraging of each other and it was because of that, “we really figured out how to be part of a musical community.”
“We love Sackville and we really appreciate the opportunities we got there.”
In fact, many of the songs from Partner’s album, which was released in September 2017 and features 12 tracks, were written in Sackville, said Niles.
The candid, and often times funny, lyrics explore an array of topics – from drugs and sexuality to hanging out with friends and hanging out at home watching TV.
“It’s a snapshot of where we were at the time,” said Niles. “We would talk about stuff we know, stuff that was going on in our lives … we just wanted to sing about things that we and our friends could relate to.”
With this Polaris nomination, it seems more than just their close friends are listening now.
Niles said this gives them more confidence that they are heading in the right direction when it comes to songwriting.
“It reinforces that what we are doing is resonating with people.”
Just coming off a long stint of touring throughout North America, the UK and Europe, Partner is on a bit of a break, but Niles said they are eager to get moving forward on new material.
“We’re pumped to move on and make new stuff,” she said. “We’re just happy to get to play songs people like.”
The Polaris Music Prize will be decided on Sept. 18 during a gala event in Toronto. The nine other nominated acts whose albums made the 2018 shortlist will receive $3,000 each.