Aurora is redefining what it means to be tough

The 22-year-old Norwegian singer-songwriter thinks standing up for others is a collective responsibility.

July 3, 2018

Aurora believes she is connected to everything. It’s evident in her movements, which come across as both very calculated and yet, very free. During our conversation in a graffiti covered alley behind the Velvet Underground in Toronto, she can’t help but stop mid-sentence when a fly lands on her arm, taking the time to soak up its presence: “I feel like I’m very much a part of a big organism”, she muses.

The 22-year-old mononymous Norwegian singer-songwriter and producer started writing music at age 6, and released her first studio album, All My Demons Greeting Me As A Friend, to wide acclaim and a growing international audience in 2016. Since then, Aurora’s blend of  rhythmic drumbeats and haunting vocals, has brought her music to hit TV shows like Teen Wolf and Wentworth and led her to perform at the Nobel Peace concert. Her recently released lead single “Queendom,” off of her sophomore album due this Fall, has already amassed over 3 million streams on Spotify.  

When I asked I asked Aurora to introduce herself, the first thing she mentioned was that she comes from a fjord, the narrow space between two cliffs, called “The Fjord Of Light.” It’s also an apt description of the artist herself: a light in a landscape of political and social darkness.

A.Side: I really loved your debut album All My Demons Greeting Me as a Friend. We’ve heard the new single, “Queendom,”and I’m wondering what we can expect from the new album and how it’s changed over time.

Aurora: Well it has changed a lot in some ways, in ways that maybe only I understand; but in some ways it hasn’t changed at all. The single, “Queendom,” is quite different from the album, but it’s a nice test. It’s nice to see how people react to different kinds of music. It’s been an experiment. It’s been a big challenge also because I’m being quite abrupt and that song is quite political. But the album is just even more Aurora.

I’ve produced it really “me” this time because I understand myself even more. It’s very emotional. It may be a bit lighter than the first one…it depends what song. *she giggles* I think the overall mood is that I want people to feel prepared for their daily obstacles. I want this album to be an album that makes you feel tough. I want it to make people feel big and I want it to be an album they can listen to and just dance and walk with firm steps on the ground. It’s very empowering.

It’s like if I’m being kind to the world then I’m being kind to myself. We should take all the battles personally as much as we can.

I’ve heard you speak about how you want to stand up for people, especially people who can’t stand up for themselves and I was wondering where that inspiration comes from.

It came from travelling the world and actually seeing that we are so the same, we are so connected, and people in Brazil have the same problems as people in Norway, you know? It’s been so interesting to see more and more how we are one organism, or just one living thing. Everything that is alive is just part of one thing. They have different dreams and purposes and minds, but I look at humankind different than I did before.

I feel like I’m very much a part of a big organism. I just thought that it doesn’t make any sense to not fight for everything else when you’re a part of everything else. It’s like if I’m being kind to the world then I’m being kind to myself. We should take all the battles personally as much as we can. Begin with your own battles and struggles in life, but if we have space for the world, for more than our own, then it can be a very magical thing to stand up for the women and the men and the animals and the planet. 

I think it’s really interesting how you’re talking about us all being one organism because that seems so obvious but so few people realize it and recognize themselves in the people around them. Do you think that’s important today especially because the political landscape is so scary?

*Slams table* IT IS. It is very scary and I can see the world reacting in a good way, too, because it provokes us. It makes us care more than we thought we had to, but also it makes the whole situation seem even more impossible. It makes us feel like we should just let go and not care because we just want to live our lives, you know? Which is also very important, but I think [standing up for what we believe in] can be done in less of a tutoring way and more of a human way. I’m going to integrate that even more into my songs. I want to work with organizations I believe in and donate some of my ticket sales and album sales. I want to just include 

*Aurora gets distracted by a piece of dust floating in the air and grabs it*

Sorry. I want to include people in a very natural way that just happens. Like “Oh, yeah, if I buy her album then I get this bracelet, which is made from”…well I can’t tell you that yet. That’s actually a very fun clue.

I think also because you’re from a very beautiful, woodsy area, you don’t get disconnected in the way that we sometimes do in the city.

It’s so true. Though you connect to smells and food and culture here way more than I do at home, which is also very beautiful. I feel like music can do the same, too. It’s the same sort of natural thing. It’s been with us longer than religion, music. It’s a way for us to celebrate, to express sorrow and happiness, and for so long we’ve been dancing. Even when we went to battle we had drums and music.

And it’s so interesting how it can change how you’re feeling. You were just talking about it on the way here how you refuse to stand still or walk anywhere because dancing makes you feel happiness.

It can definitely make you feel happiness, and it can make you care. It can stir you up, and I hope to give people some kind of spark in this next album to make us – I don’t know. I don’t know the word. It’s not angry… it’s determined. I guess maybe you’ll know when you hear the album. Maybe you’ll think, “Ah, this is the essence of it.”

Music and any artform is always evolving and changing. Do you know now where your music is going in the future?

Aurora: I know now where my next step is going. I had finished this album a long time ago but I decided I wanted to do something different this time, so I had to do something that takes a lot more time to finish if that makes sense. I’m going to work with that again a bit more until it’s done, but I already know what my third step is.

The first album was about people going in to themselves and dealing with their own shit. This album is rising up from it and determination and being able to fight for everything. It’s a wider perspective than inwards, it’s outward. The next step, I already know what the essence should be. I already know the step, but I don’t know how the sound is. I always know everything, it’s very…strange.

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