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 the past twelve months the collective have supported a number of acclaimed artists and bands, including Architecture in Helsinki, Jens Lekman, Lou Barlow, Gerling, Starky, The Panics and The Lucksmiths.
Institut Polaire's debut 7" single "City Walls and Empires" (released through Love Is My Velocity Records) recently won them the Western Australian Music Industry's 'Song of the Year' Award for 2006 and have 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.
The band were nominated for 'Best Indie Pop Act', at the 2007 WAMi Awards and also undertook their first national tour supporting Camera Obscura.
In February 2007 Institut Polaire announced that they have been signed as the first Australian artist on Popfrenzy Records. Their first release will be an EP due out on July 28, 2007, with an album, nominally called The Fauna & Flora Are Too Closely Allied due late in 2007.
"I think the main goal for 2007 is to continue to evolve and make some great records,” he says. “We head out on our first national tour supporting Camera Obscura in late February, followed by a debut EP release in May and an LP later in the year. It’s also looking increasingly likely that we’ll have some pretty exciting news to report rather soonish...”
Ben Blakeney - guitar, vocals
Elliott Brannen - trumpet, keys, vocals
Catherine Colvin - violin, vocals
Erik Hecht - vocals, guitar, banjo, keys
Russell Loasby - drums, percussion
David Thirkettle-Watts - bass
Samantha Wass - acoustic guitar, vocals, keys.