The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (Caras) has defended its decision to nominate Arcade Fire, whose frontman Win Butler was recently accused of sexual misconduct by multiple people, for group of the year at this year’s Juno awards.
“We look at Arcade Fire’s nomination for group of the year as one for the entire band,” the Academy wrote in a statement to CBC Music. “While we take the allegations very seriously, in this situation we are also honouring the rest of the band for their success. We hope the allegations against Butler will not detract from the achievements of the other group members.”
The Junos are the most prestigious music awards in Canadian music – Canada’s equivalent to the Brits or Grammys – and Arcade Fire, which also includes Butler’s wife Régine Chassagne, Richard Reed Parry, Tim Kingsbury and Jeremy Gara, have previously won 11 awards, from 25 nominations.
They have faced controversy in recent months due to a series of investigations by the music website Pitchfork in which five people accused Butler of sexual misconduct. Three of the women quoted alleged that Butler had used his celebrity status to pressure them into sexual situations, while one person alleged that Butler had kissed and touched them non-consensually; a fifth alleged that their relationship with Butler was “emotionally abusive, manipulative, toxic, and using his power dynamic to exploit my body”.
At the time, Butler released a statement through crisis publicist Risa Heller strongly refuting that he had ever engaged in a non-consensual relationship, saying: “I have long struggled with mental health issues and the ghosts of childhood abuse. In my 30s, I started drinking as I dealt with the heaviest depression of my life after our family experienced a miscarriage. None of this is intended to excuse my behaviour, but I do want to give some context and share what was happening in my life around this time.”
In the aftermath of Pitchfork’s investigation, Feist cancelled her sets supporting Arcade Fire through Europe and the UK, while Beck withdrew from opening for the band on a North American tour. Some US radio stations began pulling the band, who had recently released their sixth album, We, from rotation.
In 2018, the Canadian Academy chose to cancel a performance by Hedley frontman Jacob Hoggard at the 2018 Junos after allegations of sexual misconduct were levelled against him. “After careful consideration of the situation and in discussions with the band, Caras and Hedley have decided that the band will not be performing at the 2018 Juno awards,” it said at the time.
A band or their label must submit to be nominated at the Junos, but nominations are based on “50% consumption, 25% academy delegate vote, 12.5% social data and 12.5% radio audience,” meaning that once submitted, Arcade Fire could have been nominated with minimal votes from the Academy itself.