An Interview with Austra — navigating through our current dystopia

Austra

Austra — Photo by Renata Raksha

Austra, also known as the Canadian vocalist and producer Katie Stelmanis has an upcoming Los Angeles gig on February 9 at the El Rey Theatre. Touring in support of her new album Future Politics, released January 20 via Domino, the 11-track record features compelling songs with Austra’s signature bewitching croon. Noted as her most ambitious album to date and self-described as “optimistic, challenging, and pretty,” Future Politics couldn’t arrive at a better time. As the U.S. endures a tumultuous political climate, that ultimately affects the entire planet, Austra’s new record is a call for hope, “a commitment to replace the approaching dystopia.” Austra delves into politics on her most personal album yet. What makes the message even stronger is the beautiful package that cradles the lyrics of his album: Stelmanis’ incredible voice.

We caught up with Katie Stelmanis to discuss her new album, the U.S.’ political landscape and more. Check out what she had to say below.

You described your album as “a commitment to replace the approaching dystopia.” What exactly is the “approaching dystopia?”

Austra: At this moment it feels like we may have reached that approaching dystopia. When I wrote the record I was more speaking about what it means to live under neoliberalism, the economic model since the 80s that prefers privatization and austerity to collectivism. A lot of the problems that have been brewing since the 80s have sinced come to head in the form of a fascist resurgence which is quite terrifying and not at all what I intended to write about.

You also mentioned “not just hope in the future, but the idea that everyone is required to help write it” — what are you personally doing to make this world a better place?

Austra: I am less interested in the individual actions of humans and more interested in the greater efforts of society on a larger scale. I think there is a lack of vision for the future and that vision needs to be developed and imagined into something that people can grab onto and support. It needs to be something that crosses borders and generations that can be shaped and developed over time. Really, this requires changing the way people think, and convincing people to turn away from the individualism that we’ve been brainwashed to believe in for the past 40 years.

*Humble as she is, Stelmanis forgot to mention that she donated a portion of the proceeds from Future Politics to Planned Parenthood.

What is your favorite song on the album and why?

Austra: I think my favourite song is “Gaia.” It was the first one I wrote for the record and it was finished within a day. I love it when that happens, those moments when songwriting feels effortless, because it usually quite the opposite. It also feels like an old school pop song to me, like one from the Carol King era. But maybe that’s just in my head.

Your video for “Utopia” left many confused. Did Amazon Echo sponsor the video?

Austra: Amazon Echo did not sponsor the video, it would have looked a lot more psychedelic if we had corporate sponsorship! The video is supposed to take place in the future, but we wanted it to feel present-day at the same time. Its about being controlled by technology and in doing so having personal interactions with humans be replaced by interactions with machines, which is not far from how we interact with each other today.

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Do you have any reoccurring dreams? Do dreams inspire your music?

Austra: I have a consistent reoccurring dream that I never finished high school and I have to go back. Apparently it’s a normal one people have and it has to do with not feeling satisfied with your accomplishments or something. That dream definitely doesn’t inspire my music but causes a lot of stress, ha.

What can fans expect from your live show with Future Politics?

Austra: Our live show kind of rules right now, its got a good mix of some intimate emo moments and then breaks into a full-on rave by the end of the set so we get the best of both worlds. We also have a pretty cool light show for the first time which is fun to travel with too.


Austra performs in Los Angeles at the El Rey Theater on February 9 with supporting act The Range (get tickets). Additional West Coast tour dates include Phoenix, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle and more. View more tour dates below and purchase tickets via Austra’s website.

Watch Austra’s New Video for “I Love You More Than You Love Yourself.”

 

Austra 2017 Tour Dates

January 26 | Warsaw | Brooklyn, NY #

January 27 | Union Transfer | Philadelphia, PA #

January 28 | Black Cat | Washington, DC #

January 29 | Motorco Music Hall | Durham, NC #

January 31 | Exit/In | Nashville, TN *

February 1 | Terminal West | Atlanta, GA *

February 2 | Gasa Gasa | New Orleans, LA *

February 3 | Trees | Dallas, TX *

February 4 | Mohawk | Austin, TX *

February 5 | Lowbrow Palace | El Paso, TX *

February 7 | Valley Bar | Phoenix, AZ *

February 8 | Casbah | San Diego, CA *

February 9 | El Rey Theater | Los Angeles, CA *

February 11 | Mezzanine | San Francisco, CA *

February 13 | Holocene | Portland, OR *

February 14 | The Crocodile | Seattle, WA *

February 17 | Triple Rock Social Club | Minneapolis, MN *

February 18 | Thalia Hall | Chicago, IL *

February 19 | Magic Stick | Detroit, MI *

March 4 | Paradiso | Amsterdam, Netherlands

March 6 | Uebel & Gefährlich | Hamburg, Germany

March 7 | NIEBO | Warsaw, Poland

March 8 | Astra | Berlin, Germany

March 9 | Muffatwerk (Ampere) | Munich, Germany

March 10 | Conne Island | Leipzig, Germany

March 11 | Posthof | Linz, Austria

March 12 | WUK | Vienna, Austria

March 15 | Biko Club | Milan, Italy

March 16 | Les Docks | Lausanne, Switzerland

March 17 | Dampfzentrale | Bern, Switzerland

March 18 | Gloria Theater | Cologne, Germany

March 21 | Patterns | Brighton, UK

March 22 | Village Underground (Convergence) | London, UK

March 23 | Summerhall | Edinburgh, UK

March 24 | Deaf Institute | Manchester, UK

March 25 | The Button Factory | Dublin, Ireland

# w/ Ela Minus

* w/ The Range

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