Austra - when new wave and classical collide

“I DON’T think it’s possible for me to write in a major key. I don’t know why. It doesn’t seem to factor in my brain.” So says Katie Stelmanis, lead singer and songwriter of Toronto’s Austra.

Minor keys are dominated by the ‘sad sounding’ chords of Am, Dm, Em, etc, but though she may base her music on such melancholy foundations, Stelmanis’ musical mission is not to depress:

“For me, music should be a release,” she says. “I want people to be able to dance and completely lose themselves in a more physical way. If I can emotionally stimulate the mind and the body through music, I’ll feel like I’ve accomplished something significant.”

Austra - Stelmanis, Maya Postepski (drums ), Dorian Wolf (bass ) - play the Róisín Dubh this Monday at 9pm in support of their debut album, Feel It Break, released in May on Domino.

The album has enjoyed positive reviews, with Metro saying: “Austra’s melodies are spine-tinglingly sensual; their robo-rhythmic thrust commands listeners to hot-foot

it to the nearest dance floor.”

Although much of the attention is focused on the danceable nature of Stelmanis’ music, she does draw from a wide variety of influences.

At 10, Stelmanis joined the Canadian Children’s Opera Chorus, where she sang regularly for the prestigious Canadian Opera Company. While simultaneously learning viola and piano, she pursued a career in opera, studying privately for four years.

She had the option to go to university but chose instead to create soundtracks for local theatre companies. She also began listening to Bjork, P J Harvey, Nine Inch Nails, and British new wave, and her goal became clear: “I wanted to make classical music with really f***ed up, distorted crazy s**t on there,” she said.

In 2008 Stelmanis released her debut album and later on she added bassist Wolf and old mate Postepski to create Austra.

Support is from Sleep Thieves. Tickets are available from the Róisín Dubh and


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