Last night Canada watched the Juno Awards celebrate the best in Canadian music -- doling out Junos to Arcade Fire, Tegan and Sara, Serena Ryder, A Tribe Called Red and, much to the booing Winnipeg crowd's chagrin, Justin Bieber -- but not all the action happened on the telecast.
We were embedded backstage where the night's big winners Tegan and Sara, who've jokingly compared themselves to soap star Susan Lucci for always being nominated at the Junos, but never actually winning, stuck up for Bieber after the negative reaction to his 4th consecutive Fan Choice Award win.
“No slag of the media, but we have this 24 hour news cycle now. We need to constantly have headlines and I think it's really easy to pick on celebrities. We've been publicly supportive of Justin Bieber, because we think he sings really great pop music. I thought it was tacky to boo. I think it’s tacky when people boo at hockey games, I think it’s tacky to boo artists," said Tegan Quin. "It made me feel sad. We were only booed once -- and it was at the Winnipeg Folk Festival. That sound? It feels horrible."
"I think that Justin Bieber is actually a very talented artist and I think a lot of people just like to pile on and sort of make fun of him," she added. "He's been famous since he was a little kid. He's made some mistakes, but God knows Sara and I have made actually way worse mistakes when we were teenagers and we weren't famous."
Serena Ryder, who also defended Bieber onstage when accepting her Songwriter of the Year, was her usual hilarious, expletive-spewing self backstage. "I feel so satisfied right now," she said. "Tonight was a really huge milestone for me. I look forward to doing dick all for the next few weeks."
A Tribe Called Red lost to Halifax DJ Ryan Hemsworth for Electronic Album of the Year the previous night, but took home Breakthrough Group of the Year during the live broadcast, beating out July Talk, Born Ruffians, Courage My Love and Autumn Hill, for their groundbreaking sophomore, "Nation II Nation."
The group made the conscious choice not to submit in the Aboriginal Album of the Year category, relying on the strength of their music to stand on its own. As Aboriginal artists winning in a mainstream category at a mainstream awards show, the win was particularly meaningful for the band. "This award doesn't belong to us, it belongs to all of us," said Ian "DJ NDN" Campeau backstage.
Canadian Music Hall of Fame Inductee Randy Bachman appeared backstage after Bachman-Turner Overdrive's hall of fame induction and performance to talk writing new songs and getting better with age.
"Most musicians get better as they age and mature. Unless you're struck with drugs and alcohol, you pretty much get up and practice everyday," said Bachman, known for abstaining from drugs and alcohol due to his Mormon faith. "We're lucky compared to hockey players or somebody who gets their knees blown out or their shoulder if they're a quarterback. I look forward to sitting down some days. B.B. King does it."
When asked questions about the possibility of another BTO reunion, Bachman said: "The Grey Cup's here next November, 2015." Then, pointing to his manager offstage, said: "If you want to make an offer, the guy's right there."
While it was a night of big wins for Canadian musicians, it was also a big night for non-musicians.
Canadian Olympic women curlers, Team Jennifer Jones, and slopestyle skier Dara Howell made stops backstage to chat about playlists, fav musicians and go-to karaoke songs – which by the way, includes Sarah McLachlan, Jann Arden, and Shania Twain, among others.
Menawhile, everyone’s favourite "Space-Oddity"-singing astronaut Commander Chris Hadfield, who received a rapturous standing ovation when inducting BTO -- and crooning a few lines of "Takin' Care of Business" -- addressed questions about attending the Junos and his new celebrity status.
"Because the Canadian Space Agency worked so hard to communicate with everybody, it feels like I've met everybody already, which is really nice. Everybody I talk to, it feels like we've already had an introduction. The ice is broken, and now it's like we're at a family reunion. Jim Cuddy came up to me today and I just love his lyrical sense -- the words that he has written. We've covered his songs for years, and it was as if we already met each other. I knew him through his music. He thinks he knows me through the work that I've done and, in fact, we do sort of know each other."
But, he added, "nobody's in awe when they meet me. The word celebrity is nice because you’re being celebrated for something, and I’ve worked hard to put those nine-year old boy’s dreams into reality. I've lived outside the country for 26 years to try and do that and it's wonderful to be celebrated for it."