HTRK photo by Kate Meakin


  • SYDNEY: Friday August 16 at Red Rattler with Tralala Blip + DJ Nat James. Tickets on sale now from Eventbrite.
  • MELBOURNE: Saturday August 17 at Geddes Lane with James Rushford (also appearing at Supersense) + DJ Moopie. Tickets on sale now from Moshtix.
  • BRISBANE: Friday August 23 at The Foundry with Andrew Tuttle DJ Danny Venzin. Presented by Jet Black Cat Music. Tickets on sale now from Oztix.

Venus In Leo by HTRK is out on August 30 on Mistletone Records (Australia + New Zealand) via Inertia, and Ghostly International (rest of world). Pre-order Venus In Leo on limited edition clear vinyl, here.

“You Know How to Make Me Happy”, directed by Antuong Nguyen:

It’s been ten years since HTRK released their breakthrough first album, Marry Me Tonight. The band has undergone profound changes, with the first two albums released amid the deaths of close friend and collaborator Rowland S. Howard and HTRK co-founder Sean Stewart. Psychic 9-5 Club set them on a path of self-discovery, and Venus in Leo marks a spirited new chapter by one of the most distinctive bands of the past decade.

Over the soft strums of acoustic guitar, the album’s introduction,“Into the Drama,” posits a theory that “what was once considered self-sabotage could be revisited as being under the influence of Venus in Leo,” Standish explains. Fingerpicked guitar loops rise slowly and fall over a cold, brittle beat.

Previously released lovesong “Mentions” finds Standish exploring the lack of physical intimacy in the social media age. Elsewhere, there are emotional highs, like on the kaleidoscopic single “You Know How to Make Me Happy,” which details a suspended state of ecstasy, Standish commending her partner’s conscious efforts to prop her up with compliments.

“NewYear’s Day” traces a flimsy resolution to get healthier, instantly busted by an evening of debauchery, recalling “the worst possible start to the year with bad friends and bad behavior.” The silver lining is the sunrise: “pink, red, orange, white, peach” Standish repeats as the track laps with a velvety, hypnotic refrain.

Archetypal themes emerge as the band explore the makings of personality. Standish revisits her childhood home in a recurring dream (“Dream Symbol”), a doomed first kiss (“New Year’s Eve”) and high drama (“Venus in Leo”). Recorded more or less live in HTRK’s home studio in the Dandenong Ranges outside of Melbourne, the album’s simple production reveals gorgeous, toned-back arrangements and an evolving, idiosyncratic songcraft.

Venus In Leo Tracklist:
01. Into The Drama
02. Mentions
03.Venus In Leo
04.You Know How To Make Me Happy
05. Dream Symbol
06. Hit ‘Em Wit Da Hee
07. Dying Of Jealousy
08. New Year’s Day
09. New Year’s Eve

HTRK‘s music is not a quick-fix for restless, impatient minds; it needs to absorbed, contemplated and revisited. Listen to one of their records and you’ll find yourself slipping deep into their sound world, where the cavernous reverberations of dub techno are mixed with frosted post-punk motifs and the gravelly imperfections of industrial, reimagined in the setting of a dingy basement.

Their music is layered with enough subtle cultural reference points to attract critical dissection, raw enough to appeal to beer-swilling live crowds, and visceral enough to make sense throbbing out of a club sound system. Throw together the core influences of HTRK and you’ll find David Lynch’s unsettling surrealism next to Bill Henson’s industrial landscapes, with Mika Vainio’s minimal compositions alongside the malfunctioning synth-pop of Suicide. 

Formed in 2003 as the duo of Nigel Yang and Sean Stewart in Melbourne’s north-western suburbs, the band soon welcomed vocalist Jonnine Standish into the fold, before self-releasing their debut EP, Nostalgia, in 2005 (to be re-released on white vinyl by Fire Records on September 27, 2019). From the off their sound was raw and visceral, with distorted guitar pedals caking Standish’s vocals in sonic grit.

The band followed up Nostalgia with 2009s Marry Me Tonight, an LP co-produced by Rowland S. Howard, founding member of The Birthday Party and a towering figure in the Australian music scene. Marry Me Tonight was in many respects a neo-pop opus, with the bands homespun sound now developed into something more spacious and immersive; tracks like “Disco”, which sounded like a club anthem anaesthetised and played at 33rpm, and the narcotic, shamanistic rhythms of “HA” cemented the band as a formidable outfit. In 2009 Howard died of liver cancer, but not before he had left a deep and lasting impression on the band, as both a mentor and a friend.

It was around this time Sean met Mika Vainio: Stewart, along with Yang and Standish, greatly admired the revered Finnish producer, and the rugged electronics dabbled with on Marry Me Tonight seeped further into the bands sound as they continued to experiment with synthesizers and drum machines. Recording sessions at Netil House in London Fields led to the third HTRK album, Work (Work Work), released in 2011.

The band’s world was turned upside down when Stewart committed suicide halfway through the album’s recording. Standish and Yang finished the album as a duo, locking themselves away from the world and finding the ultimate catharsis in the studio. Intense and leaden with texture, Work (Work Work) is a sonic monument to Sean that explores the body’s reaction to personal loss, using humour and sex drive as lyrical themes, with pools of murky noise suffocating the guitar and bass, creating an overwhelming atmosphere that is at once malevolent yet seductive. 

Standish and Yang decamped to the Blazer Sound Studios in New Mexico to work on their next record Psychic 9-5 Club with Excepter’s Nathan Corbin called on to produce. Material dipped headlong into some of the things that make humans tick: love, loss, and desire. Released in April 2014, the collection presented a more tender and polished version of HTRK, the flesh stripped from their sound, the focus placed on naked arrangements and minimalist sound design.

HTRK re-emerged in 2018 with a set of singles exploring themes of power, mind games, and intimacy in the social media age. While not revealed at the time, these were the first suggestions of Venus in Leo, the fourth full-length and a spirited new chapter for the band. Recorded more or less live in their home studio in the Dandenong Ranges outside of Melbourne, the album features much-loved HTRK hallmarks — the combination of space and intimacy, the unmistakable interplay between Yang’s guitars and Standish’s vocals — while differing markedly in its energy, returning to the duo’s underground rock past with the stylistic playfulness and variety of a modern mixtape. It sees release on Mistletone / Inertia on August 30, 2019.

Venus in Leo is supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria.