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Artist

Austra

1

Biography

Austra is an electronic music project from Toronto, Ontario, founded by Katie Stelmanis in 2009. Maya Postepski, also contributes on the recordings. A live band consists of Postepski on drums, Dorian Wolf on bass and moog, and Ryan Wonsiak on keyboards. They previously also featured the twin backing singers Sari and Romy Lightman of Tasseomancy. The band have released three albums, two EPs and a number of singles, with the first two albums reaching the Billboard Heatseekers album chart.

In 2004, Stelmanis and Postepski played in a band called Galaxy, together with Emma McKenna. At the same time, Stelmanis started making electronic music at home and was also writing industrial-inspired soundtracks for performance artist Zeesy Powers. Powers convinced her to start performing her songs live, and in 2008 Stelmanis' debut album Join Us, which appeared under her own name, was released through Blocks Recording Club. She toured Europe with Maya Postepski on drums and xylosynth. In 2009, Stelmanis decided to change the name of the project from her own in order to increase her band visibility, and because she felt too many people were mistaking the project for being an acoustic-folk act.

In 2010, the band played the South by South West festival in Austin, Texas, under the name Private Life. An A&R man from Domino Records saw them play and they subsequently signed a record deal with the label. They played a number of early shows under that name before learning it was taken; they subsequently named themselves after Stelmanis' middle name Austra, which is also the name of the goddess of light in Latvian mythology.

Austra's debut album Feel It Break was released on May 11, 2011 by Domino Records, and May 17, 2011 in Canada by Paper Bag Records. The album was shortlisted for the 2011 Polaris Music Prize. Feel It Break was included on several year-end critics' lists; notably, both the Toronto Star and New York named it the best album of 2011, with the former calling it "an outright stunner". Stereogum named Austra a Band to Watch in March 2011.

Their second album Olympia was released on June 18, 2013, from which the first single "Home" was released on March 7, 2013. It was described as "a personal song cycle about loss and gender dynamics". Their third album Future Politics was released on January 20, 2017. For the record, Stelmanis spent time in Mexico where she was introduced to electro cumbia while house, dance and techno music influenced the writing for the album. Lyrically, Stelmanis was inspired by the book Inventing The Future: Post Capitalism in a World Without Work by Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams and The Accelerationist Manifesto. She indicated that the material for the record had been written before the political events in the second half of 2016.


Timeline