|Origin||Perth, Western Australia, Australia|
|Years active||2004 – 2011|
|Labels||Love Is My Velocity
|Past members||Ash Blakeney
Institut Polaire formed as a three piece in 2004 by an American ex-pat (Erik Hecht), an English born scientist (David Thirkettle-Watts) and a country boy moved to the big city (Ash Blakeney; who left the band in 2005, handing over his role to cousin Ben). Institut Polaire has grown from three piece roots into a full-blown collective who currently number between seven and nine members toting everything from vintage Wurlitzer pianos to violins, banjos, trumpets, MacBooks and glockenspiels.
In recent times the collective have shared the stage with acclaimed artists and bands including Camera Obscura, The Clientele, Architecture in Helsinki, Jens Lekman, Lou Barlow, Gerling, New Buffalo, Starky, The Panics and The Lucksmiths.
Institut Polaire's debut 7" single "City Walls and Empires" (released through Love Is My Velocity Records) won them the Western Australian Music Industry's 'Song of the Year' Award for 2006 and has since received national airplay.
"It was a fantastic confidence boost," Hecht said about the band's win in X-Press Magazine, "To see how much things have evolved in the band dynamic, instrumentation and songwriting since recording the debut single is exciting. I think most of us would agree that we are far more proud of the music we've been writing since. And I really suspect we may take some people by surprise with the records we put out this year."
In 2007 Institut Polaire performed at the Perth leg of the Big Day Out having won Triple J's Unearthed competition for Western Australia. They also performed with Bob Evans and Bobby Blackbird & The Bluejays at the WAMi-styled Triple J Live at the Wireless gig at the Rosemount Hotel.
"I think the main goal for 2007 is to continue to evolve and make some great records,"
Their first release was an EP called The Fauna and the Flora which was released on 1 October 2007. The EP was Drum Media's 'single of the week'. Institut Polaire have also been named as one of Triple J's Next Crop featured artists for Aus Music Month (November 2007) and have been nominated as for a 2007 J Award (Unearthed new artist category). The EP also debuted at No. 19 on the AIR (Association of Independent Record Labels) singles chart. "City Walls and Empires" entered the Australian Top 40 Countdown chart at No. 40 in May 2008.
In early 2008, the band relocated to Melbourne for the foreseeable future and quickly undertook a national tour with Sydney's Cuthbert & The Night Walkers (presented by Triple J's 'Home and Hosed') in May. Directed by Beatrice Pegard and produced by Diana Ward, the video for "City Walls and Empires" won Most Popular Music Video at the 2008 WAMi Awards.
In early December it was announced that long-time member Ben Blakeney had left the band on completely amicable terms to concentrate on his own projects. Original guitarist Ash Blakeney rejoined the band as lead guitarist.
The band recorded their debut album with Craig Pilkington at Melbourne's Audrey Studios. Craig's previous resume included several releases for The Lucksmiths, a co-producing credit on The Blackeyed Susans ARIA-nominated 'Shangri-La' and engineering 2008's ARIA-winning 'Gurrumul' by Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu.
The LP, titled 'Make Your Own Mayflower', was released in 2010.
The band announced its separation in January 2011.
Samantha Wass and David Thirkettle-Watts currently play in the band Jack on Fire, Ash Blakeney and Toby Lang toured Australia and South America with Kate Nash and Elliott Brannen returned to Perth and plays with 6s & 7s and The Autumn Isles.
- Ash Blakeney - guitar, vocals
- Elliott Brannen - trumpet, flugelhorn, vocals, keys
- Catherine Colvin - violin, vocals
- Erik Hecht - vocals, guitar, banjo, keys
- Toby Lang - drums, percussion
- Rebecca May - keys, flute, vocals
- David Thirkettle-Watts - bass
- Samantha Wass - acoustic guitar, vocals, keys, piano accordion
City Walls and Empires
- "City Walls and Empires" (Institut Polaire)
- "Bird" (The Bank Holidays)
The Fauna and the Flora
- "Kentucky Society Drought"
- "The Fauna and the Flora Are Too Closely Allied"
- "East, West & I"
- "Lullaby For A Warmonger"
- "City Walls & Empires" (bonus track)
Awards and nominations
- 2006 WAM Song of the Year ("City Walls and Empires")
- 2006 WAM Song of the Year 'Pop' Category ("City Walls and Empires")
- 2008 WAMI Award ("Best Indie Pop Act")
- 2007 Triple J - J Award (Unearthed category)
- 2007 WAMi Award nomination - 'Best Indie Pop Act'
- 2008 WAMi Award nomination - 'Most Popular EP/Single'
- 2008 WAMi Award nomination - 'Most Popular Music Video'
- 2008 WAMi Award nomination - 'Best Indie Pop Act'
- 2008 WAMi Award nomination - 'Best Drummer'