Austra is an electronic music band based in Toronto, Canada. It was originally formed in 2009 with the goal of making music that delves in all the different areas of electronica, including dark wave, synthpop, dream pop, new wave and indietronica. The band is made up of Karie Stelmanis who is the lead vocalist and keyboard player, and Maya Postepski who is the drummer. The two had worked together in the past as part of the band Galaxy. Dorian Wolf is the band’s bass player. He has had prior experience as a professional musician, playing for the group Spiral Beach. Together, the three have been playing a number of shows and have become quite popular in the underground scene of Canada. More recently, they have ventured into the mainstream industry and are becoming known in the US as well. To listen to their music in person, buy Austra tickets.
In their early days, the band was known as the "Private Life" under which they played many shows. Their strategy was to perform in as many local venues as they could so that they would get their name out there to the electronic music listeners of their area. Soon they discovered that there already existed a group with their name. In order to avoid a lawsuit and the subsequent threat to their reputation, they decided to change their name to Austra. This was Stelmanis’ middle name, a Latvian term which translated into "Goddess of Light". That is the name that the band has stuck with ever since. The group is often also joined by Romy and Sari Lightman, twin brothers of Tasseomancy, who provide backup vocals and by Ryan Wonsiak who helps provide an additional keyboard sound.
In 2010, the band scored a record deal with Paper Bag Records. They released their first album the following year titled "Feel It Break". The record was well received by critics everywhere, getting generally positive reviews. It was even nominated for the Polaris Music Award which was eventually given to the album "The Suburbs" by the Arcade Fire. Still, the impact they wanted to create on the industry came true and the album was on many yearend lists as being one of the most prominent electronic collections. The New Yorker and the Toronto Star magazines went as far as saying that it was the single best record of that year and one of the strongest debuts by an indie act. They received other heralds as well, such as being called Rising Stars, and Acts to Watch in 2012.
In June 2013, they released their sophomore album, "Olympia". The lead single off this record was "Home" which did quite well on the charts. Their new music has been described as exciting for clubs or any place with a dance floor, without being too loud or layered. Even though it is electronic, it is soothing to listen to. This album too was produced by Paper Bag Records and distributed under them in Canada and the United States. Domino Recording Company was responsible for releasing the album elsewhere in the world. The follow up single to "Home" was "Painful Like". So far, the commentators have noticed how this record is more plugged, more bombastic than the previous one. At the same time, one can hear the vocals more clearly, which is unusual in regular electronic music. Stelmanis is a singer with classical training. Her strong voice and incredible range is showcased to its fullest in the new album. The Guardian has noticed how the album has paid attention to detail with much intricacy and that every element of each song can stand out on its own. The production is clean, miles away from where the band had started, yet maintaining their original sound.
"Olympia" was written while the band was still on tour, promoting their first album. The writing process of the new record took almost one year to complete. Because the band had taken so much time with the writing, it only took five weeks for the actual recording process to be completed. The name of the album was chosen after the firstborn of the Key Club owners, because the band was the first to be part of the studio after the child was born.
They have already begun promoting their album "Olympia." Catch them on one of their shows with Austra tickets.
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