Nice, Nice, Very Nice is right

The last year has been kind to Dan Mangan. The indie-folk artist from Vancouver collected the XM Verge Award for artist of the year last September. More recently Dan has joined a cadre of Canadian heavyweights like Broken Social Scene and Owen Pallett on the 2010 Short List for the Polaris Prize. Since its inception in 2006, the Polaris Prize has distinguished itself as a recognizable force in the Canadian indie music scene and Mangan doesn’t take the honour lightly.

“No matter what happens at the gala, you will see Polaris Short List somewhere on my bio for years to come,” he says. “I think [it] is beginning to kind of penetrate the masses of press, and people are starting to get to know the award. I think the award is helping to take music that doesn’t get celebrated in the main stream media that often, and pushing it towards that.”

The Polaris Prize has gained traction since its introduction. The previous winners — Patrick Watson, Caribou, Final Fantasy (Owen Pallett) and Fucked Up — are a veritable who’s who of the indie music in Canada. Former Short List nominees continue this trend — Arcade Fire, Feist, Junior Boys, K’Naan, Metric and The New Pornographers have all received a nod. This year’s list is no different.

“It’s such a great list, across so many genres,” Mangan says. “It’s really exciting. It’s such a great cross-breed of new and old artists to the Polaris Award. Different genres, people from across the country — it’s kind of amazing how it happens, to kind of stratify across all these different boundaries.”

While Mangan is fully immersed in his success, he doesn’t hesitate to discuss the future. He has already started thinking about his next record, which he views as one of the most important of his career.

“There’s a lot of talk about a band’s third record. The first one is sort of this experiment, to see if they can make a record. The second one is kind of like, proving they can carry that creative flow. The third one is the career record, you think of Radiohead’s OK Computer,” he explains. “I’ve started thinking about what I want this record to be. I think making a record is making 10,000 small choices and every one of those small choices matters and accumulates.”

Mangan still has a long way to go. Though Nice, Nice, Very Nice was released in Canada last year, it is just now being released in the United States and Europe. After the release, Mangan will spend three and a half months touring across America and Europe and so it’s hard to even contemplate his third record. Still, he’s looking forward to his time at Calgary Folk Fest as a way to unwind in advance of the whirlwind.

“On tours, I carry so much more weight on my shoulders,” he explains. “At these festivals, you don’t have to drive anywhere, you just lock up all your gear in some gear lock-up and then it’s kind of freereign. All you have to do after that is hang out and watch music all day. It always ends up being a little bit more of a party, especially because you get so many musicians together, people who maybe haven’t seen each other in a couple years. Everyone’s on full party mode all the time.”

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