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 46)
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.


Colin Stetson with Ex Eye @ Strange Matter, 2017

Solo albums/As leader[edit]

Soundtrack Albums[edit]

  • Outlaws and Angels (2016)
  • Hereditary (2018)
  • The First (2018)
  • Color Out Of Space (2020)
  • Barkskins (2020)
  • Deliver Us (2020)
  • The War Show (2020)
  • Blue Caprice (2021)
  • La Peur (2021)

Collaborations with other artists[edit]

As sideman[edit]



Year Title Director Notes
2007 Greyhounds (Short) Kelilyn Mohr McKeever
2012 Rust and Bone Jacques Audiard Composer, Musician: "All the Days I've Missed You (Ilaij I)"
2013 12 Years a Slave Steve McQueen Composer, Musician: "Awake on Foreign Shores"
Blue Caprice Alexandre Moors
2014 The Rover David Michôd Composer, Musician: "Time is Advancing with Fitful Irregularity", "As a Bird or Branch", "Groundswell", "Awake on Foreign Shores"
2015 La Peur Damien Odul
Vi ska bli rappare David Danial Composer, Musician: "Stand, Walk"
Denis the Pirate Sam Messer Composed with Sarah Neufeld
It's About Time (Short) Ivo Briedis
Closet Monster Stephen Dunn Composer, Musician: "The Stars In His Head (Dark Lights Remix)"
2016 Lavender Ed Gass-Donnelly Composed with Sarah Neufeld
Outlaws and Angels J. T. Mollner
The War Show Andreas Møl Dalsgaard & Obaidah Zytoon
2017 Destierros Hubert Caron-Guay Partial score
2018 Age Out A.J. Edwards
2018 Hereditary Ari Aster
2019 Color Out of Space Richard Stanley
2021 Mayday Karen Cinorre
2021 Texas Chainsaw Massacre David Blue Garcia


Year Title Director Notes
2012 Shut Up and Play the Hits Will Lovelace and Dylan Southern cast as himself
2014 A City Is an Island Timothy George Kelly cast as himself
2015 An American, Portrait of Raymond Luc Levasseur Pierre Marier
New York Never Sleeps Alfonso Nogueroles
Scrum Poppy Stockell
2016 The Devil's Horn Larry Weinstein cast as himself
Uncle Howard Aaron Brookner Composer, Musician: "In Mirrors"


Year Title Network Notes
2014 The Blacklist

The Alchemist (No. 101)

NBC performer: " Warm Shadow" - uncredited
2017 Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams

Human Is

Channel 4 performer: "The rest of us" - uncredited
2018 The First Hulu, Channel 4
2020 Barkskins National Geographic
2022 Uzumaki Adult Swim's Toonami

Video Games[edit]

Year Title Studio Notes
2018 Red Dead Redemption 2 Rockstar Games


  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]