2011 is shaping up to be a busy year for Austra. We're not even halfway through May and the Canadian trio have already toured Europe and the UK, and are about to embark on a jaunt across North America; in between they've managed to find the time to put in an appearance at the mighty SXSW festival, and be crowned NME's Ones To Watch. Not bad for a band who have only just released their first album. "It's got quite a variety of material on it", says singer Katie Stelmanis, speaking to The 405. "Some dance songs, some piano ballads, and some straight up pop songs." It's this divergency of styles and influences that marks Austra out from so many other bands at the moment. They have, in turns, been described as dance, electro, new wave, pop, pagan and nu-goth, although "goth" in particular is a description Stelmanis has rejected in the past, preferring to describe her band's sound as "electronic, dramatic pop". The dramatic element relates back to Stelmanis' classical training – she studied opera and piano, and for a time toured with the Canadian Children's Opera Company. It is this classic, operatic quality to her voice, combined with urgent beats and heavy synths, particularly on debut single 'Beat and the Pulse', that lend Austra's music the dark, melodramatic edge that probably prompted that erroneous "goth" label. The variety of genres touched upon on Feel It Break is probably owed to the fact that Austra is less a solid band than it is a steadily evolving collaboration. Stelmanis originally wrote and recorded alone, under her own name, but, she says, "it became more collaborative. I work with Maya (Postepski, the group's drummer) a lot in production and Dorian (Wolf, their bassist) does a lot for our live show." Raven-haired backing singers, Romy and Sari Lightman of Tasseomancy are another recent addition that compound the group's slightly sinister aesthetic. Is it important, in music, to have a strong image? “I like having a strong image because I think it helps people to better understand the project, and its also creates more of a spectacle in a live setting which I think is wildly important” says Stelmanis. "Project" is a word that pops up quite a few times relating to Austra during our conversation, never "group" or "band". It is telling that Stelmanis says she is influenced by the "beautiful art" of friend and Toronto music scene contemporary, Kate Young. It's as if she views Austra as an art project, a perpetually unfinished painting, to which infinite layers can, and will be added. It's a fitting description. Austra have had two big breaks recently, signing to record label Domino, and of course, playing at SXSW, where they were roundly well received. Now they're hoping to build on that success with a gruelling touring schedule, which after America sees the group returning to Europe; they'll hit London's Cargo in June. "We'll be on tour until at least 2012!" Stelmanis says. She doesn't seem unhappy about it.