Austra is an electronic music project from Toronto, Ontario, founded by Katie Stelmanis in 2009. Katie writes and produces the music herself using Ableton Live. Maya Postepski, also a producer under the moniker Princess Century, sometimes contributes on the recordings. The music is performed live as a band with Maya Postepski on drums, Dorian Wolf on bass and Moog, and Ryan Wonsiak on keyboards. Austra used to include twin backing singers Sari and Romy Lightman of Tasseomancy.
Austra's debut album Feel It Break was released on May 11, 2011 by Domino Records and May 17, 2011 in Canada by Paper Bag Records. 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 was included on several year-end critics' lists; notably, both the Toronto Star and New York named it the best album of 2011, with the former calling it "an outright stunner". Stereogum named Austra a Band to Watch on March 14, 2011.
Their second album Olympia was released on June 18, 2013, from which the first single "Home" was released on March 7, 2013.
In 2004, Katie and Maya played in a band called Galaxy together with Emma McKenna. Katie started making electronic music at home during that time, and was also writing industrial-inspired soundtracks for performance artist Zeesy Powers. Zeesy convinced her to start performing her songs live, and in 2008 Katie's debut album Join Us was released under her own name with Blocks Recording Club. Katie toured the record all over Europe with Maya Postepski on drums and xylosynth. In 2009, Katie decided to change the name of the project from her own in order to increase her band member's visibility, and because she felt too many people were mistaking the project for being an acoustic-folk act.
In 2010, the band played the South by South West festival in Austin, Texas, under the name Private Life. An A&R guy from Domino Records saw them play and they subsequently signed a record deal with the label. They played a number of early shows under that name before learning it was taken; they subsequently named themselves after Stelmanis' middle name Austra, which is also the name of the goddess of light in Latvian mythology.