The crowd at Saskatoon’s Broadway Theatre was electric — and acoustic — on Saturday night, as artists from all across Saskatchewan took the stage for the 2023 Saskatchewan Music Awards.
Taking home top honours for 2023 album of the year was Regina-based indie band Jake and the Kid, for their album Baby Bro.
Minutes after accepting the award on behalf of the band, Jake and the Kid vocalist Sam Stawarz still felt the win was “surreal and amazing.”
He and his fellow bandmates have been playing together since they were “band kids in school,” experimenting with different sounds and learning how to put a recording together, he said.
“Jake and the Kid started because we wanted to record something that meant something to people.”
The album is dedicated to Stawarz’s friend and classmate Dylan de Jong, who died in 2020.
“We were set to graduate together — then all of a sudden, he was gone. It was such a shock,” said Stawarz. “So I spent a lot of time at the cemetery with him, and eventually I came to write the last two tracks on Baby Bro. It’s just a love letter to him.”
When Stawarz and his bandmates started making music, de Jong was the first to cheer them on. So for Stawarz, being able to acknowledge him and his family on stage at the Saskatchewan Music Awards felt like a fitting tribute.
“When we were in high school, and it was our turn to perform, all I remember was Dylan chanting our band name over and over in this tiny little theatre,” said Stawarz. “And today, just as I accepted that award, I heard that exact same thing.”
Now, Stawarz says Jake and the Kid is hoping to take the momentum from this win and propel themselves into a full-length album, which is already in the works.
“It’s on everybody’s hearts and minds,” he said. “I think, if we are able to achieve the right circumstances to record it, it would be really special.”
This year, the Saskatchewan Music Awards introduced a variety of new categories to better represent the scope and diversity of music produced in Saskatchewan — including afrobeats artist of the year.
Inaugural afrobeats winner Rooky Kamiz said he has found nothing but support from the province’s music community, and hopes more music awards in Canada will follow Saskatchewan’s example in recognizing afrobeats artists.
“From my research, Saskatchewan is the first province to have an afrobeats category in the whole of Canada — that’s something not even the Junos has posted up right now — so this is a really big deal,” he said.
“Afrobeats has been having a recognition worldwide, and I feel like it’s just a matter of time until afrobeats is getting recognized all around the country.”
Making music is often a community effort — and the Saskatchewan Music Awards are a unique opportunity to celebrate the whole team.
“My most favourite thing in the world is getting to work with my friends in any sort of creative aspect, so I’m just over the moon that we’re getting recognized for the work that we did,” said Molly Schikosky, co-director, co-producer and cinematographer of the award-winning music video for Katie Tupper’s ‘She Said.’
And Schikosky made absolutely sure to share the spotlight with all her “She Said” collaborators.
“Halfway through the show, I thought, ‘Oh my God, if we actually win, the most important is to thank everyone who was involved, because it wouldn’t have been made without them,’” she said. “So I took my friend’s lipstick, and my other friend had a playing card in her purse, and I wrote the names on that playing card to make sure I didn’t forget anybody.”
For many artists, making it to the Saskatchewan Music Awards — as a nominee or a winner — is the culmination of years of hard work and creative effort, and the recognition of a community that supports and encourages emerging artists as they blossom into the spotlight.
“It is amazing to have our roots based here in Saskatchewan, and have listeners and fans from our home province recognizing what we’ve done,” said Spencer Brightman, one half of 2023’s electronic artist of the year group FOOTWURK.
“Being here, in a room full of such talented individuals, makes us really proud to be from Saskatchewan.”
The full list of 2023 Saskatchewan Music Awards is:
* Roots or folk artist of the year — Jake Vaadeland
* Instrumental or ambient artist of the year — Factor Eight
* Hip hop artist of the year — Skizza and AK Productions
* Pop artist of the year — Marissa Burwell
* Producer of the year — Bart McKay
* Electronic artist of the year — FOOTWURK
* R&B artist of the year — Katie Tupper
* Venue or festival of the year — SaskTel Saskatchewan Jazz Festival
* Indigenous Music Achievement Award — Edmund Bull
* Country artist of the year — Jess Moskaluke
* Music professional of the year — Micheal Lander
* Music video of the year — TIE: “She Said” and “Tous les matins”
* Metal or hard rock artist of the year — Flash Back
* Rock artist of the year — TIE: GreenWing and The Steadies
* Contemporary Indigenous artist of the year — Falynn Baptiste
* Inspirational or spiritual artist of the year — TIE: Deeper Life and Elenee
* Afrobeats artist of the year — Rooky
* Industry achievement award — Trifecta Sound Co.
* Music company or organization of the year — Trifecta Sound Co.
* Single of the year — “Heartbreaker,” Jess Moskaluke* Album of the year — Baby Bro, Jake and the Kid