You’ve heard her voice before, but perhaps can’t quite pinpoint where. That’s because Astræa is the voice behind the emotive version of You’re Not Alone from the Lloyds Bank advert (yes, the one with the horses running on the beach), which sold 45,000 OCC units and racked up five million streams while it was at it.
Speaking to Headliner over Zoom, Minnesota-born Astræa (who has lived in the UK for six years and only occasionally betrays a hint of a transatlantic accent) says that she’s still trying to make sense of the lockdown period and the current state of the world. Happily, she does most of her production from home, and has been able to fully dedicate herself to her most recent project, which she wrote, recorded and independently produced.
“When I was a kid, there was this computer game called Super Duper Music Looper, and my little brother was obsessed with this game,” she says brightly.
“Looking back at it now, it was almost like a DAW for kids. You could find all these different types of loops and throw them into the DAW and make pieces of music out of it, so I would often make orchestral pieces out of these loops.”
Despite being musically-inclined since childhood, Astræa says that she only started taking a serious interest in music production five years ago when she wanted to record some of her piano compositions, but didn’t have the budget for a producer.
“It was a lot of trial and error and figuring things out as I went along,” she admits. “It definitely took at least two to three years until I finally felt like I could call myself producer, because I think every producer goes through this whole phase where everything sounds crap! It can be so frustrating at first, but you just have to push through that time period and keep trying things until you can get to a point where things start to sound better.”
Before releasing her own music, Astræa’s classical background and studies in music and psychology led her to practicing music therapy with people with schizophrenia and children with learning difficulties. Astræa has a bachelor's degree in psychology and music, and a master's degree in music therapy.
“I've always been fascinated by psychology,” she says, “and at the same time, I've been obsessed with music since I was a toddler. I wanted to explore this other area of interest of mine and see how I could combine music and psychology. Writing and performing music has always been a form of therapy to me, so having that first hand experience of knowing how powerful music can be when you're going through something made me want to learn more about that and how I could use that to help other people.”