Austra Gives Us An Inside Look At ‘Future Politics’

Photo by Renata Raksha

It couldn’t have arrived at a better time

Nearly four years after the release of Olympia, electronic music project Austra is returning on Inauguration Day with their third album, Future Politics. While Katie Stelmanis, the opera-trained vocalist behind the project hails from Toronto, there's no doubt that the timing of the release of the new album—which includes a track titled "Utopia"—has a lot of political relevance in America. 

Future Politics departs from the usual full-band effort of Austra, having been entirely written and produced by Stelmanis herself. Each track has a definite inspiration, woven in and around her keyboard beats, sounding almost otherworldly through her tight vibrato. Her messages are far more immediate than simply pondering on the future of the political. There is an urgency to the emotions, and Stelmanis ties them into a nice, tight package with this new record. 

Austra sets out on tour on January 20 to promote the album's release. Ease yourself into the future of politics while you stream the mesmerizing new album, and read along as Stelmanis takes us track by track.

"We Were Alive"
I was really inspired by Massive Attack while writing this song. Especially the song “Unfinished Sympathy,” with a vocal melody that, to me, sounds almost improvised. I tend to be very formulaic, with my songwriting, and pattern-oriented. With this track, I wanted to just sing without any concern for that stuff so it would feel more like a free flow. The whole track is only two chords except for the bridge, which is also unusual for me, and I think that makes it feel more like a conversation or a story than a pop song.

"Future Politics"
I wrote this immediately after I read something called the #AccelerateManifesto, which basically states that technology will have the power to free us from capitalism if it is allowed to develop freely, and is not hindered by finance or copyright. It will eliminate the need for labor and scarcity, creating a post-work communist paradise. It's a response to the return to small-scale acts of resistance and organization and a call to embrace globalization and not be deterred from its complexities.

In the past few years, my hometown of Toronto has become infested with literally hundreds of bland, glass condos. The city is becoming sterile with cultural hubs being destroyed daily because of their geographical potential to become a lucrative development. "Utopia" is about feeling like a stranger in your own city that so few people seem to notice is disappearing, and also about hoping for a shift in the mentality of its residents that could to prevent the complete bland takeover.

"I’m a Monster"
This song is about depression, about feeling totally dead inside. It describes what I tend to see as a dangerous place to be, a place of being unable to feel anything at all. 

"I Love You More Than You Love Yourself"
A song written about loving someone with depression and how difficult It can be to reach them, to make them feel loved, and how frustrating it is when they cannot find happiness. It's about trying to make a connection, a task that often just feels impossible.

"Angel in Your Eye"
This is my favorite song on the record. I wrote it really quickly, probably within an hour or two. Its really different from most Austra songs, and I spent a lot of time working on the vocals to try to get a really relaxed delivery. I especially love the end of the song—there's a long, slow buildup of tension that breaks with this single, barely there falsetto note that feels really raw and very vulnerable.  

I think I was trying to go for a new-age style production here; I don’t really remember what inspired it specifically. I do remember that the outro was really fun to write and record. It’s kind of the only true band moment on the record, with Maya and Dorian having both written for it. It's like of a psychedelic, terrestrial breakdown that washes into a wall of sound.

I suppose Gaia is my love song for the environment. I wrote it while reading about this religion called New Pantheonism, which believes that there is no divine God or any other world other than the one we inhabit, and to disregard the natural world in favor of an imaginary one does great disservice to the miraculous environment we are lucky enough to inhabit.

"Beyond a Mortal" 
When I set out to make this album, I had this idea that I wanted to make background music. I feel like most of what I’ve made in the past tends to be quite aggressive, in terms of what it demands from the listener, and I wanted to make something that would simply just color a room rather than demand any other sort of attention. This was the song I wrote that I think succeeded in this goal. I recorded the vocals probably around 100 times trying to get the right whispery effect which is probably very easy for a lot of people but for me really unnatural. Part of the reason I wanted to record the vocals myself was so I could have the flexibility of experimenting with different singing techniques, which would be too stressful in an expensive studio environment.

"Deep Thought"
This track was originally called “Computers Have Feelings Too,” and I kind of regret changing the name. It was written and performed on a midi-keyboard but sounds pretty authentically like a harp, and so I wanted to continue that commentary on whether or not electronic instruments can emote like acoustic ones, and I obviously believe they can. To take it one step further, it can also be a commentary on the role of technology in our lives in general, and how it is becoming an organic part of the human experience and not some external force that we can choose not to interact with. 

I wrote a large portion of this album in Mexico City where I was influenced by a lot; two of the most relevant things to this song are the 43 missing students from Iguala and Electrocumbia. I got really into artists like Chancha Via Circuito and Nicola Cruz when I was over there and loved how most of that music sits comfortable at around 90 to 100 BPM. Being really into the vibe, I wrote a ton of songs for this record in that tempo that I eventually had to weed through cuz the whole record would basically have never worked in a live setting. This one survived.

To be living in Mexico and not acknowledge the 43 missing students doesn’t seem right to me. I lived there during what many describe as a civil war: a war between the people and the government, where corruption is so blatant, but no one is ever held accountable. It's a tragic story that can only be remedied by never, ever neglecting to tell it.

We also see Margot Robbie take on Sharon Tate

The new trailer for Quentin Tarantino's upcoming movie Once Upon a Time in Hollywood gives a look at the Manson Family. In the previous clip, we saw Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio at their funniest. Now, we get to see Margot Robbie take on actress Sharon Tate, Lena Dunham become a cult member, and how the fictional and real-life story lines will intersect in the film.

Per a press release, the film—that follows a fictional story set around the time of the real-life Manson murders—"visits 1969 Los Angeles, where everything is changing, as TV star Rick Dalton (DiCaprio) and his longtime stunt double Cliff Booth (Pitt) make their way around an industry they hardly recognize anymore."

In this clip, after being introduced to Dalton and Booth, viewers get to see how the latter ends up mingling with the Manson Family. As Booth picks up a girl (Margaret Qualley) on the side of the road, he unknowingly welcomes a Manson family member into his life and begins to visit their ranch. The fiction and real-life stories intersect when we find out that Dalton lives next store to Tate, who was murdered by the members of Charles Manson's cult in 1969.

Watch the new trailer for Once Upon A Time In Hollywood ahead of its July 26 theatrical release, below.


Photos by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

This photo proves that they are the chillest onscreen family

Sophie Turner just posted a photo of herself, Maisie Williams, and Isaac Hempstead Wright—aka the Stark siblings—to her Instagram, showing just what the three used to get up to when the Game of Thrones cameras weren't rolling.

The photo shows Wright looking quite pleased with himself while sitting on a makeshift throne, wearing no pants. As he should be, seeing as (spoiler) his character, Bran, won the Iron Throne this weekend. Williams, meanwhile, is looking way too cool to be involved in the shenanigans, wearing a pair of black sunglasses and staring absently off-camera. As for Turner, she's looking away from her onscreen brother, too, nervously smoking a Juul.

"The pack survived," Turner captioned the photo.

This photo just goes to prove that the Stark siblings are the chillest onscreen family. (It also proves, yet again, that Turner's social media is an absolute delight.)

We're actually a little sad that this footage didn't make it into the final season, considering how many modern-day objects have been spotted in the show's last few episodes.

Photo via @mileycyrus on Twitter

Meet Ashley

Miley Cyrus shared the trailer for her forthcoming Black Mirror episode, and it's basically Hannah Montana set in a dystopian future. Cyrus is a pink wig-wearing pop star named Ashley who is rolling out an in-home virtual assistant, named Ashley Too, that looks like her and shares her voice. But, as is the case with every Black Mirror episode, this technology is not as cute and fun as it's advertised to be.

In the trailer, we get the idea that Ashley is all about wanting fans to "believe" in themselves—but underneath that pink wig, maybe she doesn't feel that same self-love. After Ashley Too introduces herself to fan and new owner Rachel, promising to be her friend, we get a look at Ashley's darker side. She's depressed and tired of the pop star life. A record label executive says to several people in the room, "She doesn't understand how fragile all this is." As they consider upping her dose of medication, Ashley's life is on a downward slope. "It's getting so hard to keep doing this," she voices over glimpses of a police car chase, performances, and breakdowns backstage.

But back to the technology: Does Ashley's breakdown also mean the breakdown of Ashley Too? Looks like it. We see Rachel's virtual assistant screaming, "Get that cable out of my ass! Holy shit! Pull it out," breathing a sigh of relief as soon as they pull it out. A title card then reveals the episode name, "Rachel, Jack, and Ashley Too."

Watch the full trailer and get a full view of Cyrus' cyborg-esque pop star look, below. Black Mirror returns to Netflix on June 5.

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Photo by Paras Griffin / Stringer / Getty Images.

Several actresses allegedly had "issues" with him

Lena Waithe's Showtime series, The Chi, just lost one of its main characters. Jason Mitchell, who was also set to appear in the Netflix film Desperados, has been dropped from both projects following multiple allegations of misconduct. He has also been dropped by his agent and manager.

Hollywood Reporter heard from a source "with knowledge" of The Chi, who says that Tiffany Boone, the actress who plays Mitchell's girlfriend on the show, is just one of several actresses who had "issues" with him. She eventually told producers at Fox21 that she could no longer work with him after filing several sexual harassment complaints. Apparently, her fiancé, Dear White People co-star Marque Richardson, would join her on set when she would shoot with Mitchell.

While news of Mitchell's alleged misconduct is just now beginning to surface, it looks like the ball started rolling on the fallout weeks ago. He was dropped from Desperados and replaced by Lamorne Morris before filming began. A source from the production team said that the producers received "specific information" that they reviewed and acted on quickly. Similarly, a source familiar with Mitchell's former agent, UTA, said the decision to drop him a few weeks ago was very quick following the allegations.

Photo by Rachel Murray/Getty Images

Prior to the college admissions scandal, she said she doesn't "care about school"

Apparently, Olivia Jade wants to go back to school despite all those YouTube videos that suggested otherwise. Back in March, it was revealed that her mom, Fuller House actress Lori Loughlin, and dad, Mossimo Giannulli, had scammed Jade's way into the University of Southern California. Now, Loughlin faces jail time, and Jade lost out on plenty of lucrative ad partnerships.

According to Us Weekly, "Olivia Jade wants to go back to USC," per a source. "She didn't get officially kicked out and she is begging the school to let her back in." Another source though ousted Jade's real motivation to the publication. "She knows they won't let her in, so she's hoping this info gets out," they shared. "She wants to come out looking like she's changed, learned life lessons and is growing as a person, so she for sure wants people to think she is interested in her education."

Jade previously shared in a YouTube video she's in college for the "experience of like game days, partying" rather than the education. She also said, "I don't know how much of school I'm going to attend... I don't really care about school, as you guys all know." Though these statements were made prior to the scandal coming to light, her brand partnerships didn't come into question until her parents were indicted.

Right now, despite previous reports that Jade and her sister would both be dropping out of USC, Jade's enrollment has been placed on hold—meaning she cannot register for classes, or even withdraw from the school—until her parents' court case comes to a close. Then, the school will make its own decision as to how Jade will be affected. I think, either way, she should have to pay off a few of her classmates' loans for all the BS she pulled.