Aurora

Norwegian pop sensation Aurora wants the world to know that she is only human – though, perhaps, A Different Kind…

It’s both refreshing and unnerving to talk with someone who seems to know what you’re about to ask, before the question even passes your lips. But, given the mysterious, otherworldly aura surrounding alt-pop artist Aurora, it’s a talent that shouldn’t be entirely unexpected. Notion grabbed a few minutes with the Norwegian singer-songwriter to discuss her upcoming album, A Different Kind of Human, in between touring the globe, writing a fourth record, learning Japanese, and building an army of warriors for our world.

 

Most people will be familiar with Aurora’s mystical, ethereal vocal style – even if they don’t know it; her cover of Oasis’ “Half the World Away” was the soundtrack of Christmas 2015, having featured in that year’s John Lewis Christmas advert. While the gig could well be credited with propelling her career in its earliest stages, she isn’t hesitant in admitting that the Gallagher brothers aren’t really her cup of tea: “I didn’t know about the song before that! I don’t like them that much, I think they’re a really good band and they make really good music, but it’s just not what I usually listen to.

“I don’t really listen much to music, because there is so much music in my life, and in my head, so I do prefer just silence most of the time. But I do sometimes listen to Enya, which is quite calm, and I like listening to heavy metal like System Of A Down and Mastodon, bands like that, so it’s quite a contrast! There is something in heavy metal which soothes me, I often sleep to heavy metal songs.”

  • Jacket Aurora's own
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  • Skirt Aurora's own
  • Jacket Aurora's own
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  • Skirt Aurora's own

We catch her, coincidentally, half the world away on tour in Australia. It’s a long way from her home town of Bergen on the west coast of Norway, where her family still resides in a quiet fjord in the forest. “It’s really beautiful, and I think my favourite thing about my childhood home is that there are almost no people there. I like to be alone, and I loved being alone when I was a child. It was always an issue with my friends that I said no to hanging out, because I really enjoyed being with myself and I had so many things I wanted to do; I liked to draw, dance and make music. I think that’s the best gift from growing up in Norway and my family home; the imagination and creativity you get when you have to be your own best friend.”

 

This connection to nature, and the idea of escape and solitude, permeates her music: “I have nature where I grew up, and I know many people don’t have the same kind of scenery, so it’s nice to think that music can take you away to somewhere else. My music has many layers, and I think people really feel connected to nature and tribality in the world; I have big landscapes in my music, because I like energy and I like to dance and shout when I perform live. I’m quite explosive, or I’m feeling quite explosive at the moment. I think I need to be loud at the moment.”

Similarly, while the tribal emblems present throughout her music to date are still a clear influence, A Different Kind of Human goes further, inviting us on a journey through earthly and unearthly realms; opening with tribal rhythms from the belly of the Earth, we’re suddenly flung above the stars in a cloud of futuristic electropop, before being pulled back down by hypnotic and heavy drum beats:

 

“Every album I make is a bridge between the album that comes before, and the album I know will come after. I am moved by native music, ancient music, and I’m very inspired by Native American and African music, Norwegian folk music and quite a lot of Japanese folk music. I’ve had those quite close to my heart for a long time and, with every album I make, the perspective is becoming bigger.

  • Aurora's Jacket Aurora's own
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  • Sister (left) Jacket ONE TEASPOON
  • Sister (right) Jacket Sister's own
  • Jacket Aurora's own
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“My first album was a lot about looking inwards and working with your own demons, becoming a warrior for yourself. All in all, it’s about becoming a warrior for the people that can’t be a warrior for themselves yet, so that’s why it’s important that this album felt like it was sent to a different kind of human. It has this mix of the ancient and futuristic because we are in a very interesting time now, as humans; we are trying to learn how to live with the world, the technology, with us, and trying to balance it all in harmony.”

 

The desire to be loud, to be a warrior, is fundamental when considering this latest musical offering; while her music may have once been intended to offer a retreat from reality, Aurora is determined now to bring her fans face to face with the very real crisis facing us today. “Music can be an escape for a little while to this other creative place, at the same time as it can be a tool to survive what you have to deal with in reality. I wanted people to feel like they could have a little break from whatever is hard to deal with in their lives, and to get some comfort. But, now, I’m obsessed with bringing people back to the planet through music, and opening people’s eyes about the world, about each other, to provoke compassion.

“I feel like we are meant to be compassionate creatures, we humans. We are compassionate with our friends, family, our closest ones, and it worries me that we don’t really have that much compassion with everything else of late. That’s kind of the whole point of what I’m into right now, bringing people back down to the Earth again and facing all of these uncomfortable things, while also seeing what is so beautiful, and that we have to preserve it before it’s too late.”

“The Seed” and “Apple Tree” are among the more overtly charged tracks on the album, reminiscent of the politically active musical movement championed by ‘70s punk artists. “I know there are problems that may seem very big – like how we look, or things we are unhappy about in ourselves – but if we just got a bigger perspective, it is easier to be happy. You learn that you have so much more to do on this planet, and all the small insignificant things that you are insecure or shy about, all of that stuff goes away; you realise ‘I’ve got power, and I have so much potential, I could actually help.’

  • Dress Aurora's own
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“I think that music can make those things perhaps more fun to care about – like the planet, equality and gender equality, animal cruelty… there are many, many battles to take up. I’m kind of missing the anger that we used to have, especially in music. It makes me exhausted to think about how full of plastic the music industry has been for such a long time. Even with big shows, like the Met Gala for example, it’s so beautiful and expensive and sparkly, but if you just take one step back it looks so strange, you know? Like, if they were an animal, it wouldn’t make any sense. So why do we spend all this time and money focusing on this… We have so much potential, but I feel like it’s wasting away on matters that don’t really deserve us.”

 

If there’s one thing that nobody can accuse Aurora of, it’s being ‘plastic’; her standout theatrical style, both in her performances and dress sense, are a huge part of her appeal to fans across the globe. With her sense of self so clearly solidified, it is difficult to imagine that Aurora has ever felt that pressure to conform to homogenised pop standards. “It is a lot of pressure, all the time. People try to comment on what I should wear or want me to wear brands on every photo shoot. And you have to fight them off to just look like yourself. I think the biggest point I have tried to stay very true to is that, the way I dress, it has nothing to do with money, it’s nothing expensive. I mostly wear stuff me and my sister have made from old curtains or other clothes that we make into something else, and I do like really vintage stuff.

 

“I was determined from the beginning not to get any outfits from brands, because it’s not about getting stuff for free. With my fans, I want them to see me in things they can easily make themselves, because it has nothing to do with money, It just has to do with creativity and imagination – and then the possibilities are endless! It’s much more fun to just make things out of whatever you find in the dumpster.”

  • Jacket Rokit
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  • Trousers Aurora's own

While Aurora may be resolute in remaining unchanged, there is no doubting that there have been staggering changes happening around her since the release of her first album in 2016 – so how does she feel about that? “It’s weird to even notice the change because it happens step by step; my family is bigger now, I have more warriors and weirdos by my side, and I think that’s the biggest difference. It’s nice, because I’ve always had the question in my head as to whether I really want to be an artist or not, as it’s such a strange thing. I just want to make music, that’s all I want to do. I want to be in the studio with my drummer, Magnus, and sometimes, in the beginning, I felt like being an artist and being on the stage was too distracting from that and kept me away from the studio.

 

“I think the biggest change from then to now is that I’ve learned how important it is to meet people, and to be in the same room with people… I think it’s important to see that someone they admire and love – because they do give me so much love – I’m just another human. Then I think it’s easier to have the same love for yourself, and so I do see the value in being an artist and performing; I’ve learned how much power my words can have.”

 

It’s interesting, that someone so assuredly content in solitude can, at the same time, feel so enticed by a crowd, and by notions of power and persuasion: “I do like having the power because I have a lot to say, and I have a lot that I want to change, and now I realise I can make change because of those people – I have no power without the people. I have really learned to love my fans and to love travelling around the world, and really getting my word out there. It’s very powerful.”

  • Shirt Rokit
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With A Different Kind of Human still a month from release at the time of writing, Aurora says that she has already started work on her fourth album with ‘an even bigger perspective’, whilst also on a worldwide tour. So, what’s next? “I want to make 8 albums, I think that’s the limit, and I want to have a show on the water. I want to make it a theatre performance with music… and I am a dancer too so, if possible, add even more dancing into the show. It’s very exciting, really, to have the time to really develop the most magical live show that you’ve ever seen.

 

“But I have a lot of plans! I also want to be a painter, and I’m trying to learn Japanese – I want to live in Japan for a few years. So, I have a lot of things that I want to do. And, luckily, I have a lot of time, because I’m not going to stop, not until I die.”

 

AURORA freshly reveals her new single ‘The River’ and accompanying video from her highly anticipated third album ‘A Different Kind of Human’ today, set for an official release via Decca Records on 7th June.
In line with this, AURORA also announces a 6 date tour in November, including her biggest headline show to date in the UK at London’s iconic Roundhouse, on 11th November.
Following a full packed summer of festival appearances including Glastonbury and Latitude, as well as sold out headline tours across Australia and South America.

 

‘The River’ is the opening track on ‘A Different Kind of Human’ and finds AURORA at her best, juxtaposing huge pop melodies with more conceptually driven electronica. Thematically tackling the issues of increasing male suicide rates and expression of emotion, the darkness and thoughtfulness of her lyrics are perfectly balanced with her delicate vocal, layered to sound more like an instrument than vocal in parts. Aurora commenting on the track notes “It’s quite a happy song… it’s been a while since I’ve had a joyful song so it feels very nice. It was inspired by something quite sad as I looked at the suicide rates on this planet and apparently 73% of them were men and then I thought, why is that the case? Then I realised, obviously, it must be because of the feeling that you can’t talk about your emotions and show that you’re in pain because pain is often associated with weakness but you know, here in my world it’s not, so the song is inspired by something quite sad but it is also happy because crying can be such a positive experience, especially afterwards when you actually feel a bit lighter.”

A Different Kind Of Human is released by Decca Records on 7th June. Pre order here now