Austra’s Utopia

05.12.2016 | Blog , Music | BY:

The third album from Canadian electronic band Austra, Future Politics, is a record for now. Using rich visuals throughout which lend an aesthetic sensibility to the album, Austra (led by by Katie Stelmanis) explores the themes of future: dystopia vs utopia, creativity through individualism and injustice in a closed world. Written, produced, and engineered by Stelmanis, her mellifluous vocals ride over a catchy synth beats to create a songs that are designed to inspire listeners to get involved and take control of their future. Twin caught up with Katie Stelmanis to talk musical influences, the challenges of a third album and Trump.

Why was it important for you to create this album?

I saw Massive Attack play a show a few years ago in Belgium and having not really listened to them previously, I was totally blown away by the show. I loved how they fused politics and music together in such a way that that felt emotional, rather than being lectured. I think when you receive political commentary through music it allows you to more easily welcome what you are hearing as it seems more genuine and compassionate. I wanted to try to do something similar with my new album; rather than speak about the sadness surrounding a personal breakup, I wanted to communicate the collective sadness felt by our generation and myself concerning the terrifying state of our world atm.

How has the social and political climate shaped the final product?

I actually completed this record months before Trump won the presidency, and started it years before he was even a candidate. So in a way the album wasn’t even intended to be a commentary on what we are currently going through though the themes fit pretty well. I was more obsessed with this idea of the future as being something mutable and controllable and something that we need to tackle with radical ideas, and I think this message is more important than ever.

How did living in Mexico City and Montreal influence and inspire the album?

I lived in Montreal during the winter when it was cold and dark and I hibernated for a few months. The songs that came out of that time are definitely the darker ones, I was feeling quite hopeless personally and also with the state of our world. When I move to Mexico I was immediately inspired and re-awaked, it is visually the complete opposite of Mexico with colour and light everywhere, and the energy of that city if reflected in the songs on the record.

Austra - Photo Credit Renata Raksha - General 005 - 300dpi

This is your third album, how did you feel your sound developed on the record?

I actually feel like I reverted to old techniques in making this record being that I made the whole thing on my laptop, just like Feel It Break. I wanted to do that so I could maintain control of the whole process again. I did however learn a lot about production while making it, which is part of the reason I wanted to do it myself, to gain that knowledge and experience.

Does it get easier to put out an album with experience, or do you feel that you’re still learning?

I think it gets harder in a way. The more you know, the more critical you are. There is something so wonderful about naivety and what can come out of that, I often miss being in that place, although I feel that from where I am now I just have to keep learning in order to be able to make music that sounds like what I hear in my head.

Where there any challenges of creating a soundtrack that reflected and embodied your beliefs?

It is challenging to try to make your ideas come across as concise and sensical. When I was writing these songs there was like a million things I wanted to talk about and I had to work really hard to narrow it all down to a few key points. That was very hard!

Musically speaking, who are you influenced by?

This record was influenced by Massive Attack, Miles Davis, Alice Coltrane, Chancha Via Circuito, Grimes.

What are your goals with the album? And how will you be spending the rest of 2016?

My goal with this album is to get people really invigorated by the idea that the future is in their control – that we can start spreading ideas we want to become reality in the underworld and that those ideas will eventually make it through to the mainstream.

Future Politics is released Jan 20th 2017, you can pre-order it here.

Photo credit: Renata Raksha General

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Twin Playlist X I AM A CAMERA

18.04.2012 | Blog , Music | BY:

The brainchild of singer Francesca Ross and instrumentalist Ian Watt, electronic pop duo I AM A CAMERA is responsible for infectiously catchy songs such as Commuter Love and their most recent single Factory Boys, set for release on May 27.

The duo met by chance in a club in Manchester, shortly before starting the band in October 2010. “We ended up chatting late into the night about everything from our favourite lyrics to Coronation Street to drum machines. We started writing together shortly after and that”s how it began. We knew straight away we were onto something,” recalls Ross.

Influenced by the likes of Astrid Kirchherr, Paisley Park and Arthur C. Clarke, I AM A CAMERA underpins their hypnotic beats with dreamy yet dark lyrics, visually captured in their atmospheric music videos.

Twin spoke to Ross about the inspirational appeal of the everyday mundane and her nine favourite tunes of the moment…


Describe your music in three words.
Beats, Drama, Strings.

What inspires you?
We”re inspired by everyday life. The most mundane things can be made in to a sinister subject. It can be a photo we”ve seen or a story on the news, even a sinister-looking woman on 60 Minute Makeover. We like to find the stories behind things.

Do you ever find that the city of London feeds into your work?
We live, eat, sleep & dream in London. We are inspired by the things that go on in everyday life so it inevitably feeds through into our work. The people around us become the subject of songs without even knowing it. It’s a huge city with so many individual stories and events. We”re always pondering over what goes on behind closed doors, what people are really thinking about and their darkest secrets.

How would you describe the creative collaborative process?
It differs with each song. Sometimes it will be one of these stories that sparks an idea. Otherwise, when I get to the studio and Ian will have stacks of chords & beats to work on and we just go from there.

What is the story behind the song Factory Boys and its music video?
Factory Boys is inspired by the true story of  The Dupont Twins, two teenage boys who made their way from living on a gas station in a small town to the legendary New York club Studio 54. They went from being penniless one day to being paid by Warhol in Screen Prints to hang out with him the next. Amazing. We made the video ourselves by filming on our iPhones & iPads. We set it up like our own home studio. It”s inspired by the pop art and fabulous imagery that surrounds that time in New York and the glamorous debauchery of Studio 54.

How do you perceive positive and negative aspects of producing music in this digital age?
It”s positive because you can access so much and interact with so many people. We can upload a video in our studio in London, then within five minutes someone has blogged about it in Russia. We love that. The negative side is scary hackers stealing what’s not theirs.

What does the future hold for I AM A CAMERA?
The immediate future holds us making an amazing first album, lots of touring, new material and great hair.


1/ La Femme – Sur La Planche
This band is from France, in case the name didn”t give it away. It sounds like the B-52″s on a night out with Bis. In France.

2/ Morrissey – Suedehead
I have a slight fascination with redundant sea side towns. This song sums this up entirely for me whilst bringing some Manchester vibes at the same time.

3/ Canyons – When I See You Again (Nick Zinner Remix)
This is a beautiful song from The Canyons, made even better by Nick Zinner”s remix. He”s really turned it around and made it in to a danceable track with shakers & electronic claps. The perfect track to get you ready for summer.

4/ Kleenex – Ain”t You
Swiss post punk, best filed between The Raincoats & The Bush Tetras. I love how the sections are so different and how they stumble into each other.

5/ Bananarama – Aie A Mwana
Loving this extended version. Bananarama”s first single in the pre SAW days, a cover of a song by Black Blood. The released version was actually a demo, & apparently this song also inspired the band’s name.

6/ Friends – I”m His Girl
It”s all about the bassline in this song. That and the old school vibes in the video. Makes me want to get back to New York asap!

7/ Bronski Beat – Smalltown Boy
This was their debut single, it”s got such memorable riff which set the precedent for future dance music.

8/ Seasfire – Falling
I went to see them play in London recently. This song really stood out, it”s full of raw emotion, contrasted only by its clean instrumentation.

9/ Donna Summer ft. Giorgio Moroder – I Feel Love
One of the greatest songs ever recorded! The sounds and production are so ahead of their time. I recently watched a programme on the origins of disco, and it made me realise how much music owes to this genre and this man.

Listen to I AM A CAMERA”s playlist

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