It is as if pure magic runs through AURORA’s veins. Enchanting by name and by nature, there’s something decidedly singular and strange about this tiny Nordic musician with the massive talent. With an eye-watering 200 million+ streams and 500,000+ sales for her stunning 2016 debut album, All My Demons Greeting Me As A Friend, it’s hard to believe that the dynamic Norwegian singer/songwriter is still only 21, and AURORA is now pushing things forward like never before.
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“There’s a deeper understanding of myself and what I want to say and do than on my first album. It’s more tuned into my soul and who I am,” explains the Bergen-based artist of her new material. “It’s about the many, many different aspects of what it is to be human. It covers the way we hurt and we love and the way we are so beautiful but also so awful.” See, AURORA isn’t just a singer, but a warrior, a sage and a protector. Oh, and a bloody good songwriter to boot.
Recorded in a fairytale studio/chateau in the middle of nowhere, somewhere out in the south of France, her new songs veer from the personal to the political, taking in everything from break-ups and death to feminism and environmentalism. These are songs you can find solace in but also songs that pose questions. “The world is becoming really quite chaotic,” says AURORA of the swirling uncertainty reflected in those soon-to-be-shared new tunes, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. “I think it’s good for us. It’s good to get tastes of this chaos so we can understand the places where it happens all the time better.”
Though co-produced with British duo MyRiot [London Grammar, Rae Morris] and fellow fast-rising Norwegian talent Askjell, AURORA was adamant that she would play a large part in the production of her new music. “It’s so important to me that the music is a good enough reflection of who I am inside,” she states. “I’m the only one who really knows me, the core of me, and I do me the best!” In a world where too many female artists are corralled into working with male producers, it’s a move that makes a significant statement.
Shoring up her unique, enchanting sound are Trondheim Symphony Orchestra and Florence and the Machine harpist Ruth Potter, a cello quartet, and a 32 strong gay male voice choir from Oslo. “They’re spectacular,” she beams of the vocal troupe, who appear on three songs. “The energy they have is so amazing, it’s so alive and naughty, but happy. I just love them.” AURORA has balanced the smooth with the rough. “Every song asks for a different thing and every line asks for a different emotion,” she explains. “Sometimes an ugly vocal presentation makes for the better emotion, so it can be quite ugly and gritty and messy, which you can hear even more on this album.”
Sentimental and fragile, but tough and strong too, AURORA wants her next full length project to make people “feel like they can accomplish things. It makes me feel like a fighter or a hunter – someone that can do whatever.” Reflecting the many facets of her character, it’s ‘The Seed’ which shines a light on AURORA’s innate love of nature. Based on a traditional Native American saying, she asks what will happen after the last tree has fallen and the rivers have been poisoned. “More than anything else around me Mother Earth is my biggest inspiration,” she says, calling the song “a fight for the things that can’t really fight for themselves.”
The strident returning single ‘Queendom’ is not just AURORA’s ‘Time’s Up’ anthem, but a song for everyone. “Queendom has a feminist angle and it’s an important time for women right now; we are constantly fighting for each other to have a better life on this planet, but it also stretches its arms further than that – to everything that’s alive, to the men and boys, to the animals and to nature.” In AURORA’s Queendom, everyone fights for everything that’s alive and its right to live. Which is kind of awesome, don’t you think?
In whatever form it eventually takes, this collection of new songs she now sits on offer up a powerful look not just at one of the most exciting, singular artists around, but the most important issues of 2018. We’ll leave it to her to have the final word though. “Singing makes me feel like I’m opening a window in my skin, the biggest window I have. The voice comes from my belly and out to the world it’s such a powerful thing.
“It makes me feel like some kind of portal, which is a very nice feeling because I’m not me, I’m not anyone – I’m just a voice, which is not the worst thing to be!”