Aurora: "I wanted it to be a reminder to love yourself for who you are"
Meg Atkinson | 25/09/2021
Aurora feels like an enigma amongst humans, almost ethereal. From having such a deep understanding and outlook on the world to empowering us all with her music, you can’t help but be captivated by her brilliance.
The 25-year-old Norwegian singer, songwriter and producer is set to release an album after several compilations and singles over the past year. We sit and chat over Zoom, Aurora in Norway, and me in the UK. Her apartment is hit with the warm light of the morning and plants are growing around her, Aurora is a bright beaming smile in the centre. I ask how she is.
“I just woke up, as you maybe can see because I just visited Poland and Romania and did my first shows in a year and a half. It was very strange. I thought I might have forgotten how to do it, but luckily, I did remember but now I can feel the exhausting part of moving again.”
Like many musicians, Aurora has been able to perform again as COVID restrictions have lifted. After these two shows, Aurora has a home show in Norway in the next few days. But, before these concerts could go ahead, connecting with fans has been very different over the last 18 months. Aurora has taken to TikTok to reach out. Asking her about the platform, she tells me both the great things and pitfalls of social media.
“I’m very torn about the whole social media thing because, on one side, I think it’s incredibly beautiful that we can all connect, and I can reach out to people and somehow my words matter and have meaning, and I can try to speak in a way that can maybe make someone out there feel a bit better or feel good for a little moment if that makes sense. I find that very beautiful how we can reach out in words to strangers.
“I feel like social media is making the majority of people unhappy, I feel like people are ruining their self-image through the way they look at other people on social media. So, I’m very torn. I like reaching out and creating positive and good content, I guess. But also, I’m very much more in love with the real world. And I would encourage anyone out there to spend more time here, than up there.”
Listening to Aurora about this, I understand that I spend so much time on apps like Instagram and compare myself to others as many do. I question her on what advice she can give me on spending time here and not “up there.”
“For me, it really helped to make these rules for myself. So, I try at least to have a morning, you know, that is, in this real world. And I guess, try to go outside. I try to paint and make food, like buy groceries and find a recipe and make a real meal and go out for walks. Just try to do things that remind you that we have a mind, and the body was positioned right here on the world. It’s very nice. It’s very grounding. So yeah, I recommend spending time in the real world.”
At the beginning of July, Aurora blessed us with the most empowering single, in the form of “Cure For Me”, along with a quirky fantasy-filled music video. Most recently, she dropped both a British Sign Language video and an acoustic version of the track.
I tell Aurora when I first listened to “Cure For Me”, I felt like I didn’t need to change myself for anybody else. Listening to it every day makes me feel like I am the main character in my life. I thank her for making me feel that way.
“Well, I did think about this exact thing. I wanted it to feel like a reminder, at least for the people who forget to be reminded to love yourself for who you are, and also celebrate yourself for who you are, and kind of just enjoy your own being because the world sometimes or quite often tends to bring people down and make people feel bad about not being just like everybody else. But the fact is that no one is like anybody else.”
“I keep on writing songs about love/ about the right to love because it angers me so much that the world is still not there after so many years. It’s so absurd. It’s a song about the right to be who you are, and the right to love, however, you want to love.”
Within the track, it seems as though Aurora is directing her words to a specific person with these lines: “You got hurt. No, we don’t belong together, and You got nerves, but they never show, unless they hurt.” We chat about who she is speaking to lyrically.
“I was thinking about almost 50 different scenarios that are like 50 different lead roles. One person was a person who was not accepted by their family for being who they were, for being open about their identities/sexuality and trying to speak back against the people who refuse to accept you for who you are.
“But I was also thinking about the child to a teacher that reprimands them for not being able to behave just like all the other kids, and I was also thinking about the society to women, to feminine men. I was thinking about a relationship between an abusive partner and an abused partner, I guess. Just figuring out how to tell all of these people, and, or, put people in their place, I guess, but not in an aggressive way, but it has some sass.”
And this sass comes from the music video. Aurora tells me all about the dance routine from the music video.
“I wanted to do the feet thing because I find it so mesmerising and I love the 1920s like dancing, which that’s inspired by. But then I worked with this choreographer called Yaniv, he made the rest of it with me, like all the hand things. So, we just had a lot of fun.
“It’s inspired by The Futterwacken, which is the Dance Alice in Wonderland does when she comes back to the dinner party after being in the world. She comes back and kind of puts all the grown-up boring people in their place.”
Aurora is known for her music about nature, the world and human life yet, in 2020, she brought us this beautifully tender love song. We chat about “Exist For Love”. I ask how it felt to write a love song.
“Well, it did feel very strange because, I guess you might know, I rarely write about love in that way because I have so many things, I would much prefer I write about first. But I feel like I’ve written about the most important things, and I felt like I could give myself some space to write a love song.
“I wrote the song at the beginning of the pandemic, January last year, I think. I was heartbroken then. I was thinking about how the pandemic kind of took, especially, our elders away from us. I was thinking about losing someone you loved your whole life and what kind of love that must be: eternal, unselfish and so long-lasting. It’s just a very fascinating thing to me.
“I wanted to make a song that felt nostalgic. So even though it’s new that it could remind of old love, young love, new love, but also everlasting love and when we experience this kind of beautiful, unselfish thing.”
With this new music gracing our ears, when is the album? I ask Aurora if we can expect these tracks as part of something bigger.
“Yes, definitely. I’m always making albums. If I’m not doing anything else, there’s always an album in the making because I just can’t resist. But yeah, I’m making an album and I will release some songs here and there, I think. But it’s hard to plan ahead. Because I want it to fit with the timeline of being on tour and the world opening up again. But I still want to release some music here and there. For when we’re still all at home, isolated and separated.”
I ask if there is a theme that runs through this album as the singles so far allude to love, or is this a Step – 3 to the albums Infections of A Different Kind- Step 1 and A Different Humankind – Step 2?
“This is not Step 3. But Step three is coming. I have a step three, it’s just not its time yet. But the album is about quite many things. It’s very inspired by humanity. I have a lot of spiritual albums. For me, music is very spiritual, and nature for me is very spiritual. A lot of my albums and music are about nature and the spirituality of it, but this album is a bit different.
“It’s very inspired by people. It’s very human, very raw, and very dark, but also very light, and it has many aspects. I’m asking questions about many things that I wonder about or disagree with or things that don’t make sense / Rules that don’t make sense or beliefs that I find confusing and also beautiful. It depends. It’s a very questioning album about humanity and how much we may be keeping ourselves from experiencing this life and this world to the fullest.”
Aurora seems very grounded with who she is. In past interviews, e.g., with NME, she is very open about her beliefs and talks freely about them without apprehension. I am in awe of this aspect of Aurora and ask how she feels about her openness on the worlds stage.
“I find it hard to resist. It’s more important for me to speak my mind and to accept criticism then. I live on this earth as a very fluid thing. I never demand of myself to have one opinion and keep it forever, I just demand of myself to be true, in the opinion, or whatever I’m feeling right now. I’m very open with myself that that can change completely. I can change and who I am can change.
“So, I’ve been myself all my life and been very good at it but it’s mostly because I don’t stress so much about figuring out or understanding who I am. It doesn’t matter how I see myself; people see me different anyways, nobody sees me as I see myself.
“I rarely judge myself; I don’t analyse myself which I don’t know it’s a good thing or not. But I don’t think so much about who I am, or who I should be, who I want to be if that makes sense. it’s much easier to live when you accept that. I don’t need to figure out who I am. Maybe I don’t know who I am. But I just do what feels good and right, right now. But it doesn’t really matter. You know, as long as you speak your truth.”
At HATC we like to focus on mental health, and with Aurora’s openness, I ask her how she copes when her mental health on days when it’s not the best.
“What I always tell myself, is that I am never alone in this feeling. I am without doubt just one of many people who are feeling exactly like this. I think it’s the weirdest illusion the world has shown us or told us is that we’re all going through life alone.
“So, opening up is definitely a good thing and kind of knowing that you’re part of a big group of people going through the same thing. I try to talk to myself, look at myself in the mirror, and treat myself like the other people that I love. It’s heart-breaking how easy it is to neglect yourself and to forget to treat yourself just like you would treat your best friend or your sister or the person you love the most in the world. You have to treat yourself the best way. Tell yourself the same things and be grateful.”
And also, I tell myself that it’s fine. It’s fine that I’m sad today is not the end of the world. I will just watch Rick and Morty for the rest of the day and make myself some tea. And it’s okay, I’m useless. I can’t do anything. I can’t clean my room. All of these things are just exhausting. When you’re feeling down, it’s fine. And it won’t last forever Even though it feels like it will.”
To end this therapeutic and one of a kind conversation with Aurora, I ask her what’s exciting her most in life, right now. She indulges me in this magical world she has created for herself.
“I’m writing a fantasy book at the moment. My own little world and I recommend it to anyone out there.
“I’ve been doing it so much lately and I’ve had to be in quarantine a bit because of travelling and stuff. It’s really helped me keep my mind inspired by making my own world and like a painting out, all the different villages, all the magical creatures, and making up the names for the cities. It’s so fun.”
“It started with Step 1 and Step 2, the albums. I made my own language which was written all over my merch and also on the inside of the album, there is a message hidden.”
Speaking about this world in such an ecstatic way, I want this imagined world to become a book I can have a copy of myself. I question if the book will be published.
“First, I thought for myself, but I might actually make a book now. My world is really fascinating. It’s really magical, and I think people would love it. The stories and main characters, I’ve kind of figured out who lives in the cities have really fascinating stories. And also, I have my own language, which they speak on this planet. So, I would love for my fans to be able to learn the language.”
Ending our interview, I believe there is so much we can learn from Aurora. She has this pure investment and joy on the here and now. The way she sees life feels very progressive yet naively positive and beautiful.
Words: Meg Atkinson