Austra is a Canadian electronic band from Toronto, Ontario, formed in 2009. The band consists of Katie Stelmanis (vocals, keyboards), her former Galaxy bandmate Maya Postepski (drums) and former Spiral Beach bassist Dorian Wolf. They played a number of early shows under the name Private Life before learning that another band was already using the name; they subsequently named the band after Stelmanis' middle name Austra, which is also the name of the goddess of light in Latvian mythology. Austra's touring lineup includes twin backing singers Sari and Romy Lightman of Tasseomancy and Ryan Wonsiak of Ze and the Boyfriends. On July 6, 2011, the album was shortlisted for the 2011 Polaris Music Prize, but lost out to Arcade Fire's ''The Suburbs''. ''Feel It Break'' made many year-end lists in its year of release; notably, the ''Toronto Star'' giving it the number one album of 2011 and calling it "an outright stunner", and ''New York Magazine'' also giving the album that same number one position. ''Stereogum'' named Austra a Band To Watch on March 14, 2011.
24-year old Toronto native Daniel Benjamin and collaborator/co-conspirator Maddy Wilde have been making music together for most of their lives; as Moon King, the two singers weave dreamlike harmonies over buzz-saw guitars and electronic percussion, their live performances capturing a raw-nerve intensity that verges on ecstatic. Many of Daniel's songs appeal to our darker subconscious desires, reveling in the embrace of fear and ego as a means of escape.
Moon King's debut 12" Obsession I is released July 24 on One Big Silence, the label run by Mike Haliechuk of Fucked Up, and home to the debut releases by Austra and Diamond Rings. Mike and Fucked Up drummer Jonah Falco will be performing with Moon King for upcoming live shows. Daniel has also been touring as a member of his brother Airick's project Doldrums. The 12" was self-produced and then mixed in NYC by Shane Stoneback (Sleigh Bells, Cults, Fucked Up)
Although he learned piano, guitar, and saxophone at a young age, John O (as his friends call him) was more into playing dress-up with his cousin Lisa while dreaming of a life beyond the Toronto suburbs where he was born. Of course, being the only kid on the block that wanted to pair a ballerina tutu from the tickle trunk with hockey gloves didn’t always make things easy. As he explains, “when I was in high school I never really identified with that macho jock attitude but because I played on the basketball team I couldn’t hang with the goths and punks either. Let’s just say I spent alot of time alone trying to figure myself out.”
After leaving home for the internationally acclaimed fine arts program at the University of Guelph he gave up sports to pursue art and music full time. “It got pretty tough staying up partying at a show and having to board the bus for an away game the next morning. Eventually I had to choose between the two and pursuing my art just seemed like more fun.” Finally free to immerse himself in classes that ranged from performance and video art to gender theory and politics, John O soaked up knowledge like a sponge while also making time for the occasional stage show of his own. “I remember this one time some friends and I built this huge cave out of cardboard that we spray painted neon. We put it in the gallery at school and performed a karaoke version of Technotronic’s ‘Pump Up The Jam’ inside of it with nothing but our underwear and crazy makeup on.” Laughing, he adds “that was actually my term project one year.”