Austra, trio led by Latvian-Canadian, performs at SXSW festival

After several years in which musical acts from Latvia were among those performing at the notable South by Southwest (SXSW) festival in Austin, Texas, it appears the Baltic country has come up short. However, that does not mean SXSW will lack a Latvian presence.

Latvian-Canadian vocalist Katie Stelmanis and the rest of her new trio, Austra, are scheduled to take the stage during the festival’s music programming, which runs from March 15-20.

For Stelmanis, it will be her second time at SXSW. She performed there last year, too.

Stelmanis, who is part Latvian, also identifies with Toronto’s GLBT community, according to interviews with Canadian Dimension, and Dummy.

She is a classically trained musician who at one point was headed for a career in opera. Now she produces and performs music described as dark and electronic.

Previously in a band called Galaxy, Stelmanis in 2008 released a solo album, Join Us. In 2010, she got together with bassist Dorian Wolf and drummer Maya Postepski to form the band Private Life. The trio subsequently changed its name to Austra.

Austra is set to release its debut album, Feel It Break, in May on Canadian label Paper Bag Records and British label Domino Records. The latter’s website notes that Stelmanis is a “a unique talent in possession of some seriously evocative vocal stylings who grew up on a diverse musical diet.”

Austra’s most recent single from the forthcoming album is the wonderful “Lose It,” which can be heard on the SoundCloud website.

During SXSW, Austra is scheduled to perform at 10 p.m. March 17 in Emo’s Main Room, 603 Red River St., Austin.

For more on Austra, visit the band’s website,, or its Facebook or MySpace pages.


The electronica trio Austra consists of guitarist Dorian Wolf, vocalist Katie Stelmanis and drummer Maya Postepski.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

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