Au/Ra: How Instagram spawned a collaboration with a DJ superstar and a top 10 hit

Antiguan singer Jamie Lou Stenzel has lived in Antigua since she was five (Photo courtesy RCA/Sony Music UK)
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by Gemma Handy

She may still be just 18 years old but one Antiguan singer is continuing to make major waves on the international music scene.

The latest single by Jamie Lou Stenzel – better known as Au/Ra – is currently stomping its way up the UK charts.

A collaboration with Grammy Award-nominated British DJ Jax Jones, the foot-stomping track ‘I Miss You’ is now number eight in the dance singles charts and number 12 in the UK radio airplay charts.

And while Stenzel has worked with a number of high profile artists in recent years, the coronavirus pandemic saw her partnership with Jones come about – fittingly – via social media.

“Jax actually messaged me on Instagram. He said he loved my music, let’s collaborate on something,” she told Observer. “I’d heard of him before obviously and he’s had so many amazing songs and I thought it was a really good idea.

“We started working on something and the whole thing came together during lockdown.”

In keeping with the times – and the role played by technology – the pair communicated via Zoom for several weeks before meeting face to face in London earlier this year.

“He’s a great guy and it was lovely working with him,” Stenzel said.

The talented teenager, from English Harbour, released her first single ‘Concrete Jungle’ in 2016. It quickly gained 15 million streams worldwide. Further success ensued with her 2018 hit ‘Panic Room’ with DJ duo Camelphat. 

Stenzel, the daughter of eminent German producer Torsten Stenzel, has made music her fulltime career.

And while songwriting is her passion, ‘I Miss You’ is her first release that she hasn’t penned herself.

“It rarely happens that I hear a song that I haven’t written that I want to sing,” she explained. “This one really resonated with me because during lockdown I was missing a lot of people with the whole Covid thing. It really struck a chord with me and I felt it would fit well.”

The track’s infectious house groove has been well received among music fans far and wide, complemented by Stenzel’s impressive vocals.

Since breaking out onto the global stage five years ago, her career has continued to soar, the highlight so far, she says, being last year’s headline tour of Europe.

“It was incredible being able to sing to the people who listen to my music and connect with them live – and then also meet them afterwards at the meet and greets,” she recalls.

“It is so special seeing them singing along to my lyrics. It’s crazy because you make this music in the studio and it starts off as such a personal thing and by the end of it you never think people would be singing it back to you at a venue with thousands of people.”

Stenzel may these days be one of the hottest names in the music industry, but she said she’s still an island girl at heart. She has called Antigua home since moving with her parents from Ibiza at the age of five.

“People are always surprised when they hear me say I come from Antigua,” she smiled. “Lots of people that I meet have been here and they love it.

“They say, wow, you’re from an island in the Caribbean, that’s incredible. And that’s exactly what I tell them – it is incredible.

“It’s a beautiful island and I am so, so lucky to have grown up here,” she added. “I will always continue to come back here. It’s where my family are; it’s home.”

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