Opera is kind of like electronic music. There are those that fervently love it, and others that hate it with an equal passion.
So what happens when you combine the two musical styles? Katie Stelmanis does just that, and the result is dramatic vocals over hypnotic synth lines. Her sound is reminiscent of The Organ, a Vancouver band that is no longer---or, as one critic described her, “Klaus Nomi without the chilliness or camp.” The Toronto-based songstress is classically trained in piano, viola and voice, having performed in the Canadian Children’s Opera Chorus for about eight years. “I covered a lot of bases in the classical world,” laughs Stelmanis.
The singer/songwriter is currently on tour in support of her debut album, Join Us. The album was released with Blocks Recording Club, the same label as Final Fantasy and Kids on TV. Stelmanis, who was also in Galaxy and currently plays with Toronto band Bruce Peninsula, prefers performing solo. “I like to have total control over everything. I have a band now, but they play the parts that I write for them, so it is still my project.
Stelmanis’ orchestral vocals are almost chant-like. When coupled with keyboards and MIDIs, it’s like a gothic underworld marriage of opera and electronica, producing a more sinister-sounding Kate Bush.
She is aware that her music isn’t pleasing to everyone. “I find the worst reviews are the ones where they don’t like my singing voice, which is funny because I think the critics who like me are the ones who will praise my voice and say how good it is.” Stelmanis, along with many of her Toronto counterparts, will be performing at SappyFest in Sackville, but you can catch her in town at good old Gus’ Pub next Monday.
Saturday, August 2 at SappyFest, Sackville, New Brunswick, sappyrecords.com. With Ghost Bees and Emma McKenna, Tuesday, August 5, Gus’ Pub, 2605 Agricola, 8pm, 423-7786.