We don’t want you to think of Aurora as some sort of transcendent being send down to guide and comfort us, but here’s your warning: you’ll find it hard not to.
A seminal artist and figurative thinker, to meet Aurora Aksnes is to be bathed in an ethereal lightness – both in speech and in aura. As she proudly attests, her music “sounds like it comes from a different planet,” and in many of the things she says, so does Aurora.
It’s fortunate that she’s so honest and relaxed with her realness because it’s these details that make her genius approachable and her company not intimidating, but enjoyable.
Her sprawling 2016 odyssey ‘All My Demons Greeting Me As A Friend’ glows from within with a radiant energy which, we’re pleased to report, continues in her imminent new and as-yet-unnamed second LP.
Her otherworldly demeanour must in part stem from her place of birth: Norway. Of her current residence, Aurora says: “I live in a fjord. A light fjord. If I look out of my window, I can see the mountains and the woods; you could work naked in your garden without anyone knowing.”
On the beauty of Nordic countries (birthplace of Björk, Lykke Li and MØ), Aurora is spectacularly eloquent: “Scandinavia has a lot of history with Viking and Norse mythology: you have the Northern Lights and the snow. People get inspired when you live in a place that’s surrounded by mountains like that…
“It’s like when a place is warm and tropical like Rio: you get people who are happy, vivid, and there’s music in the streets all the time. The music from there is like sparkling wine. Maybe nature gets into the pores of the music?”
And indeed it’s easy to hear towering wedding cake peaks, whorls of blue and green lights, and dense forest in the music that Aurora makes. Sounds soar and tumble in imitation of nature’s awesome contrasts, imitating the views that Aurora can see through the glass wall of her home studio.
On her first album, Aurora encouraged her producers towards figurative ends: “Can you make this sound like a person dying? This like a belly ache? And this like the ocean?” In her new songs, Aurora has taken over much of that production wizardry, and continues to channel the magnificence of nature through her art. On nature, for which she uses female pronouns, she is at her most articulate.
“I love her; I think of her as Mother Number Two. It’s amazing how she’s so full of life, and she gives us everything we need to survive and create things, but she can also kill. She can be poisonous and venomous, and she’s dangerous and warm and cold, and she’s being born, and she’s dying at the same time.”
Aurora also sees these harsh contrasts in the human condition; in suffering, perseverance and inner strength. Indeed, ‘All My Demons Greeting Me As A Friend’ “is about being good to yourself and becoming human again”, and was inspired in part by the personal agonies she herself suffered at the age of fifteen, and the chunk of time spent “rebuilding” in its wake.
On her approaching second project, the healing is done, and nature’s force can be blown a new way: towards an army of warriors who, now emotionally stronger, have the capacity to “actually care about other people, animals and the planet.” At this juncture, Aurora’s extraordinary capacity for empathy comes to the fore:
“I wish for this album to be empowering for people: I want them to listen to the songs and feel fierce because I think we need that. It’s about becoming a warrior for the people who are still working on themselves.”
Much of Aurora’s motivation comes from this need to help those people “who are lonely or heartbroken or in grief”, as she once was. “We are all from the same seed, you know? And it makes sense that trying to find happiness is so you can be of help to others. I want to make people feel special: I have to meet my fans and hold their hands and be there for them as much as I can.”
In her twinkling, dream-like anthems with their enormous production, harps and choirs, Aurora reaches out not just to the typical masses that her music rightly appeals to, but to everyone.
“There is something for everyone in my world and that’s very important for me because I love everyone. I’m passionate about creating more of an adaptive world that can fit more than extroverts and loud people into it. It’s such a narrow world, but I think there’s so much potential in strange and quiet people.”
To this end, she lists “underdogs” as her “lions” and the “silent ones” as her “choir’ in ethereal pop anthem ‘Queendom.’ On ‘Gentle Earthquakes’, with its frosty effects and wintery vocals, she’s enthusiastic about both “the ugly and the flawless.”
This particular track came to Aurora in a dream during her time in the studio at La Fabrique in the South of France. While hidden away in a studio that “looks like the house they found Narnia in,” Aurora “didn’t go anywhere else,” either physically or mentally. “The whole song is inspired by the dream I had the night before I woke up that morning. I dreamt about walking in the same halls and about making music: I couldn’t leave in any way before I finished my work.”
Even in her sleep, our singer-songwriter, producer and revolutionary is thinking of those who are struggling, and of ways to encourage them through art.
With her finished LP, Aurora is ready to bring a new swathe of songs to the world so that her music and the empathy it inspires can continue to bring comfort, strength and delight to millions. With her second LP, Aurora’s gentle words and fiercely unique production are likely to reach a billion people, thanks in part to her first album which include that John Lewis Christmas advert cover of Oasis’ ‘Half The World Away.’
April single ‘Queendom’ alone is already in its millions.
Of course, the music Aurora makes is spectral, moving and textured, and yet it’s this diminutive pop star’s thoughts on life, and the ways in which people can help one another that is so powerful to behold. It’s clear that this determination to help the heartbroken and displaced is the real rocket engine beneath Aurora’s output.
Written, performed and produced in great part, by herself, Aurora’s music has her character running through it like a ring on a tree trunk. In these new songs, more so than in her first album, her reverence of nature, and sympathy and hope for the human condition come through as strongly as in our one-on-one chat.
Her songs say so much, and so does she. From speech through to song, Aurora’s transcendent aura shines through with this beautiful ethos.
” I really believe in the world right now, and I believe in all the people that live in it. I don’t think it’s too late ever in your life to discover new potential or learn something new, because we don’t really get old before we die… I hope my second album makes you want to get up and do things.”
Taken from the October issue of Dork. Aurora’s album ‘Infections of A Different Kind – Step 1’ is out now. She tours the UK from 10th October.
Words: Jessie Atkinson