From early childhood on, Austra lead singer Katie Stelmanis’s interest was in classical music; she was influenced by electronic and dance music and even formed a riot grrl band. All these influences are combined in the dreamy synthpop band Austra, with its lead singer’s trademark warble standing out. Since the release of their debut, the band have won critics’ favor. Pitchfork, for instance, gave all three albums more than 7 out of 10 points. In January, they released album Future Politics, where they are on the lookout for brighter future. One of the bright aspects of near future is that Austra will be playing Pohoda 2017.
Katie Stelmanis (vocals) and Maya Postepski (drums) first played in a band called Galaxy. At the same time, Stelmanis started writing industrial-inspired soundtracks for performance artist Zeesy Powers. Powers convinced her to start performing her songs live. In 2008, her debut Join Us was released. She toured Europe with Maya Postepski on drums. The band played SXSW under the name Private Life and they subsequently named themselves after Stelmanis’ middle name Austra, which is also the name of the goddess of light in Latvian mythology. Debut Feel It Break (featuring bassist Dorian Wolf) was released in May 2011. According to Guardian, “Stelmanis is mannered enough to keep listeners on their toes, without tipping over into being irritating, adding a dash of spice to a record capable of intriguing both art and pop crowds.” Two years later, they released their second album Olympia, which, compared to darker Feel It Break, is regarded as dance album. The trio doubled to a six-piece, which brought more colorful arrangements to their music and multiplied positive feedback from the media. They all praise Stelmanis’ voice, atmosphere and musical foundations of the band. Later, the number of band members changed to 4; the latest addition to band’s lineup is Ryan Wonsiak on keyboards.
While reviews on the first two albums focus on music, what has caught journalists’ attention now, is the concept and lyrics of the third album Future Politics. Katie had a few sources of inspiration: economic inequality (observed during her stay in Mexico City), ecological problems and the world approaching dystopia. She was looking for feasible solutions to this bleak vision. It’s kind of a paradox that the material for this album was created before 2016, which only amplifies its visionary nature. According to Austra, we took the wrong direction, but there is still hope that things will get better. We believe that things will indeed get better, at least in a few months during their show at our festival.