Colin Stetson

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Colin Stetson
Stetson at Aarhus Festival, Denmark, 2017
Stetson at Aarhus Festival, Denmark, 2017
Background information
Born (1975-03-03) March 3, 1975 (age 45)
Ann Arbor, Michigan, U.S.
InstrumentsBass Saxophone
LabelsKartel Music Group (UK)
Associated actsEx Eye, Bon Iver, Sarah Neufeld, Arcade Fire, Bell Orchestre, Tom Waits

Colin Stetson (born March 3, 1975) is a Canadian-American saxophonist, multireedist, and composer based in Montreal. He is best known as a regular collaborator of the indie rock acts Arcade Fire, Bon Iver, Bell Orchestre, and Ex Eye. In addition to saxophone, he plays clarinet, bass clarinet, French horn, flute, and cornet.

Stetson has released various solo releases, including his debut and subsequent albums New History Warfare Vol. 1, 2, & 3, a collaborative studio album with violinist Sarah Neufeld entitled Never Were the Way She Was (2015), SORROW: A Reimagining of Henryk Górecki's 3rd Symphony (2016), and All This I Do for Glory (2017).


Born in Ann Arbor, Michigan and currently based in Montreal, Quebec Stetson started taking lessons at age 15. He attended the University of Michigan School of Music with a full scholarship, where he joined Transmission Trio. He also played with the groups Boostamonte and the People's Bizarre.[1][2]

Stetson has performed and recorded with dozens of artists, including Tom Waits, Arcade Fire, TV on the Radio, Feist, Bon Iver, Laurie Anderson, Lou Reed, Sinéad O'Connor, The National, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, BADBADNOTGOOD, Fink, Animal Collective, LCD Soundsystem, Hamid Drake, David Byrne, Bill Laswell, Evan Parker, Jolie Holland, The Chemical Brothers, Shahzad Ismaily, My Brightest Diamond, Angélique Kidjo, Kevin Devine, David Gilmour, Anthony Braxton, and Beanie Burnett.

His extended saxophone techniques cover advanced circular breathing, multiphonics, altissimo, microtones, (reed) vocalizations, percussive valve-work, clicking keys, and growling.[3] The overall effect led The New Yorker film critic Anthony Lane to describe Stetson's score to the film Hereditary as having been seemingly "scored for violins, percussion, a humpback whale, and bats."[4]

Solo career[edit]

Colin Stetson at Sled Island Music and Arts Festival, Calgary, 2013.

His first solo album, New History Warfare, Vol. 1, was released in 2008. His second and third albums, New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges and New History Warfare Vol. 3: To See More Light, were released by Constellation Records in early 2011. On June 16, the album was named as a longlisted nominee (one of 40) for the 2011 Polaris Music Prize.[5] On July 6, the album was named as a shortlisted (one of 10) nominee for the 2011 award. Stetson was chosen by Jeff Mangum of Neutral Milk Hotel to perform at the All Tomorrow's Parties festival that he curated in December 2011 in Minehead, England.[6] The final album of the trilogy, New History Warfare Vol. 3: To See More Light, was released by Constellation Records in April 2013, and was a longlist nominee for the 2013 Polaris Music Prize.[7]

April 2015 saw the release of Never Were the Way She Was, the first recording of Stetson's duo project with his wife and long-time collaborator Sarah Neufeld.[8]

Stetson's album All This I Do for Glory was released on April 28, 2017.[9]


While his recordings have been featured in numerous films and TV episodes, he has also produced original scores for a wide variety of films, where he has utilized a rich amalgam of his signature sonic characteristics, enhanced by various arrangement and instrumentation, orchestral and otherwise.

Performer: "All the Days I've Missed You (Ilaij I)" / Writer: "All the Days I've Missed You (Ilaij I)"
Performer: "Awake on Foreign Shores" / Writer: "Awake on Foreign Shores"
  • A City Is an Island (2014) (Documentary) directed by Timothy George Kelly (cast as himself)
  • The Blacklist (2014) (TV Series) (performer - 1 episode) directed by Joe Carnahan
The Alchemist (No. 101) (2014) (performer: " Warm Shadow" - uncredited)
Performer: "Time is Advancing with Fitful Irregularity", "As a Bird or Branch", "Groundswell", "Awake on Foreign Shores" / Writer: "Time is Advancing with Fitful Irregularity", "As a Bird or Branch", "Groundswell", "Awake on Foreign Shores"
  • An American, Portrait of Raymond Luc Levasseur (2015) (Documentary) directed by Pierre Marier
  • New York Never Sleeps (2015) (Documentary) directed by Alfonso Nogueroles
  • Scrum (2015) directed by Poppy Stockell
Original score
  • La Peur (2015) directed by Damien Odul
Original score; winner of the 2015 Cinema of France Prix Jean Vigo award. Official selection in the Contemporary World Cinema section of the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival[citation needed]
Music: "Stand, Walk" / Performer: "Stand, Walk" / Writer: "Stand, Walk"
  • It's About Time (2015) directed by Ivo Briedis
Performer: "The Stars In His Head (Dark Lights Remix)" / Writer: "The Stars In His Head (Dark Lights Remix)"
Performer: "In Mirrors") / Writer: "In Mirrors"
Original score by Stetson and Sarah Neufeld
Original score
  • The War Show (2016) directed by Andreas Møl Dalsgaard & Obaidah Zytoon
Original score; winner of the Bodil Award for Best Documentary, winner of Best Film in the Venice Days section at the 73rd Venice International Film Festival
  • Destierros (2017) directed by Hubert Caron-Guay
Partial score
Human Is (2017); (performer: "The rest of us" - uncredited)
Original score
Original score
Original score
Original score
Original score


Colin Stetson with Ex Eye @ Strange Matter, 2017

Solo albums/As leader[edit]

Collaborations with other artists[edit]

As sideman[edit]


  1. ^ "Colin Stetson Makes You Forget Everything You Knew About the Saxophone". Noisey. 2017-05-05. Retrieved 2017-09-29.
  2. ^ Huey, Steve. "Transmission Biography". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved August 8, 2013.
  3. ^ Dennis, Zel (February 6, 2012). "Colin Stetson - The History of Warfare Volume 2 - Judges". Retrieved September 22, 2014.
  4. ^ Lane, Anthony (2018-06-08). ""Hereditary" Delivers a New Kind of Horror". The New Yorker. ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved 2018-06-04.
  5. ^ "2011 Polaris Music Prize Long List announced". AUX.TV. Archived from the original on 2015-10-02. Retrieved 2016-04-26.
  6. ^ ATP curated by Jeff Mangum,; accessed April 19, 2015.
  7. ^ "Polaris Music Prize Unveils 2013 Long List" Archived 2013-06-18 at the Wayback Machine. Exclaim!, June 13, 2012.
  8. ^ "Colin Stetson". Subbacultcha. Retrieved 2020-07-16.
  9. ^ Mejia, Paula (April 20, 2017). "Review: Colin Stetson, 'All This I Do for Glory'". NPR. Retrieved May 6, 2017.
  10. ^ "CST080 ESMERINE: La Lechuza | Constellation Records". Retrieved 2016-04-26.

External links[edit]