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interview

Steve Jordan

Polaris Prize Founder and Head of Music at CBC Radio

Head of music at CBC Radio, Steve Jordan joined Warner Music Canada’s A&R department and then moved on to True North Records. In 2006, he founded and launched The Polaris Music Prize in order to bolster Canadian music, based on his admiration of the UK’s annual Mercury music Prize.

Steve Jordan

Where are you based?

Toronto. Right now, specifically, Bloor and Ossington in the spare room of my house.

Where do you work? What do you do?

CBC Music makes radio, live music video, music news and views via our website, playlist streaming and many other music things. We are national and international in our scope. I oversee the people who oversee and carry out these efforts.

What are you listening to?

Junia T. Run The Jewels 4. Laura Marling’s new one. Thundercat – It Is What It Is. Waxahatchee – Saint Cloud. Dua Lipa. Sarah Harmer. The Internet – Hive Mind. Joel Plaskett’s 4 record monolith. And a steady stream of vinyl I mail order and forget about so it’s like sending myself presents. 

How do you discover new music?

CBC Music team. Spotify / Apple Music reccos. Any Damn Music. Anyone still doing record reviews. Friends. Twitter. Shazaming song placements. 

What formats do you usually listen to? LP, CD, Cassette, Digital, Streaming Services? Why?

Undistracted listening: vinyl at home. Radio or streaming or CD in the car, but I seldom drive. Streaming downloads on the commute. Distracted listening at the desk or in the kitchen: radio and streaming.

Where do you do most of your music listening?

In front of the turntable. 

How do you find and listen to pre-release music?

I generally don’t. I get sent stuff but there’s so much to manage. I generally listen once it’s released to the world.

What are your frustrations with listening to music digitally? Any benefits?

I’m with Neil … it doesn’t sound as good as vinyl but when it’s distracted listening that doesn’t matter as much. Benefits are huge though – it’s highly portable and having that range of material at your fingertips still blows my mind.

How do you keep track of everything you are listening to?

Discogs. Spotify / Apple Music downloads. But I don’t really keep close tabs.

Discover the #HowWeListen Playlist

Listen to the #HowWeListen 2021 Picks playlist. Curated by this year’s interviewees.

Listen on Spotify

Do you tip other people off to new music? How?

I’m not on socials so it’s usually one-on-one convos with my music loving friends. Right now that’s been reduced to emails and Zoom calls.

Anything you want to “promote”?

Of course this year’s  Polaris Short List, and the winner will be announced Oct 19th:

I'm with Neil (Young) ... (when it comes to digital music) it doesn't sound as good as vinyl but when it's distracted listening that doesn't matter as much.

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