instagram envelope_alt facebook twitter search youtube_play whatsapp remove external_link loop2 arrow-down2

The singer of one of the biggest hits of the summer isn’t your average club star

Teenage kicks:
Young Au/Ra
performing at
Brighton’s Great
Escape this year

A FROZEN yoghurt shop just off Ibiza’s sunset strip seems like a strange place to meet one of the island’s rising stars. Surely backstage at a superclub or a beachfront bar would be more fitting? But the woman behind one of the year’s biggest club hits is just 16 years old — too young to get into the venues currently making her a star.

‘There was one club we had to cancel because they wouldn’t let me in to perform,’ laughs Jamie Stenzel, aka Au/Ra. ‘And it’s pretty tough to find the time to fit maths in around writing sessions and soundchecks and stuff. I hate maths.’

Her artist name is taken from her own Lord Of The Rings fan fiction and she arrives in a flurry of sea-green hair, hard to miss even among the flamboyantly dressed fun-seekers. Tonight she is performing her track Panic Room alongside British DJ duo CamelPhat, who have morphed her languid, reverb-laden dark pop original into a doomy club hit.

Club hit: DJ duo CamelPhat

Au/Ra is a soup of contradictions. She writes dreamy pop tunes about trying to befriend Drake on Fortnite and picking the right emoji for a message to a beau but her music also resonates with gurning clubbers.

‘Panic Room is about anxiety,’ she says, a world away from the gay abandon of the dance floor. ‘I struggled with that at school — I’m an overthinker.’

The remix is a skittering dance track with a disco undercurrent and a dank, dark beat but new fans might be surprised by her upcoming EP X-Games, a brooding collection of alt-pop songs that is more Lana Del Rey than DC-10.

If dance seems like a natural fit, perhaps it’s because it’s in her blood. Her dad is Torsten Stenzel, a producer and DJ who was big on the Ibiza scene in the 2000s. He endorsed her career when it became clear Jamie was all in.

‘At first he definitely was against it,’ she says. ‘He didn’t want me to go into the music industry. He knows how tough it is.’

That Au/Ra grew up on the small island of Antigua with limited internet access but is currently having a viral hit is another fun contradiction — she even describes one of her metrics for success as hearing Panic Room in the background of a gaming YouTuber’s video. ‘I’m a huge nerd, no shame,’ she grins. ‘When I’m not working I just nerd around playing video games and writing fan fiction.’

Perhaps next time she returns to Ibiza she’ll be out clubbing till dawn but for now her performance takes place on the seafront, where there are no pesky age restrictions. It’s been timed for precisely 9.03pm so that the first chorus kicks in just as the sun dips beneath the horizon — after that, who knows? Maybe there’ll be time for some Fortnite before bed.

For Au/Ra’s UK and European tour dates, see heyitsaura.com

Songs made famous by club remixes

Have you ever even heard the original versions of these songs, left to wallow in obscurity until dance DJs put the proverbial donk on them?

Moloko: Sing It Back

Boris Dlugosch remix

Mike Posner: I Took A Pill In Ibiza

SeeB remix

Tori Amos: Professional Widow

Armand’s Star Trunk Funkin’ Mix

Everything But The Girl: Missing

Todd Terry Club remix

Yeah Yeah Yeahs: Heads Will Roll

A-Trak remix

Omi: Cheerleader

Felix Jaehn remix

Simian: Never Be Alone

Justice remix as We Are Your Friends

Los Del Rio: Macarena

Bayside Boys remix

Cornershop: Brimful of Asha

Norman Cook remix