Continuing our series of interviews with people with long, rich histories with NXNE and the Canadian music scene in general, we pick up our throwbacks with Steve Jordan – the founder and executive director of the Polaris Music Prize.
A former A&R exec at Warner Music Canada and True North Records, Jordan tell us about his memories of the festival. He hopefully has a lot of them: he’s been coming every year since we first started NXNE. So if we had honorary sashes to give out… well, he’d probably get all of them.
When did you start coming to NXNE?
The first year, whenever that was. Oh yeah, 20 years ago. Haven’t missed one.
In what capacity have you been part of NXNE?
A&R vampire for the first ten. Moderated some panels. Then just a force of habit.
What’s your first memory of the festival?
Sneaking in the back door of The Rivoli to see Patti Smith’s surprise performance. Too many goofballs came to drink and yack and be seen and not listen. But it was exciting.
So far, what’s been the most memorable show you’ve seen or had at NXNE?
Definitely a Monarch-era Feist at Ted’s Wrecking Yard in 1999. Also early shows for K-Os, Danko Jones, Kathleen Edwards, Weakerthans, and just about anytime by divine right played.
What’s the most memorable NXNE conference panel, film screening, or general festival experience?Pink Eyes from Fucked Up hilariously heckling a panel I was moderating. This was before they won Polaris.
What’s been your best musical discovery at NXNE?
They were all pretty throughly researched before I checked them out, but I still have an undying love for Grand Theft Canoe out of Winnipeg. Also the outrageous Caffeine from Montreal. Neither really caught on. At all. Although Caffeine singer Xavier is somewhat of a star in Quebec.
What’s been the biggest change you’ve witnessed at NXNE over the years?
Extended hours. Murderous.
What is your favourite NXNE venue that doesn’t exist anymore?
There remains a gaping hole in the Toronto live music scene where the Ultrasound Showbar used to be. It was intimate with great sounds and sight lines, friendly staff, and great food downstairs at X Rays. Yvonne Matsell booked it and ran it like a dream.
Do you have any photographs or VHS/camcorder video stored away from the first ten years of NXNE?
Check out the back issues of NOW for some of my picks. I stand by most of them. There may also be some interview clips with me on The New Music. I may even have hair.
Anything else you’d like to say about NXNE?
Now synonymous with summer in Toronto. Looking forward to the next 20 or more.
Follow Steve Jordan at @PolarisPrize and find out more on the Polaris Prize here.
NXNE celebrates 20 years this 2014.
Stay tuned for more throwbacks, lineup announcements, and for volunteer applications to open up. You can also follow us on Twitter, see some of the announced artists, and grab your badges/wristbands here.
Photo by Kevin Shea Adams
Throwback: Steve Jordan, Polaris Music Prize was originally published on NXNE