Formed in 2010, Austra is built around singer and principal songwriter Katie Stelmanis’ bewitching voice. The band’s moniker, taken from Stelmanis’ middle name, is nod to the Latvian goddess of light. That might sound weird for a goth-pop act, but it’s that back and forth between darkness and light that sets this Toronto brooder apart.


Classically trained in piano and viola, Stelmanis was poised to follow a career in opera but was sidetracked by an obsession with Nine Inch Nails and Björk records. She drifted towards punk, pairing with Maya Postepski and forming the raw riot-grrrl act Galaxy. After appearing on Fucked Up’s 2008 release, The Chemistry of Common Life, Katie went on to release a solo album entitled Join Us under her own name. Thanks to an impressive lo-fi clip that found its way into the synth noir consciousness, Stelmanis was able to settle into her niche as witch-pop wunderkind.


On “Beat and the Pulse,” Stelmanis’ crystal-clear vibrato rides atop Dorian Wolf’s sleazy bass lines and Postepski’s hypnotic drumming. Despite having the song’s video censored by Youtube, Austra’s debut release Feel it Break has been met with acclaim and celebration. It’s a release that shows Stelmanis and her band at their finest—dualistic contradictions and all.

You should definitely watch part 2 right now.