She has been compared to Björk and Florence Welch. One look at Aurora performing, and it’s not difficult to see why. The 24-year-old singer’s stage presence is both eccentric and soft, compelling and fragile. Not one to shy away from kookiness, Aurora can look at home both at a medieval castle singing a rendition of ‘Scarborough Fair’ and belting out pop anthems amid modern dancers in ‘Queendom’. With her latest single, ‘Forgotten Love’ (you can listen to it here), Aurora talks about making room in your heart for new memories and not feeling heavy or sorrowful about it.
Many of your lyrics are sorrowful or have a darker connotation, from ‘Murder’ to the title of your previous album, ‘All My Demons Greeting Me as a Friend’. Where would you say that originates from?
I only write about the things that grind in my mind; the things I wonder about, or can’t figure out. Emotions I can’t explain, or the kinds of sorrow I can’t escape. Music is a tool in my heart to use against all of that. I think [about] my music, and [my] mind is very drawn to the dark side of things, because that makes me wonder the most.
The lyrics for ‘Running with the Wolves’ and other songs from that album were written when you were nine years old. How have the lyrics impacted you seeing that you are now in your 20s? Has their meaning changed compared to when you first wrote them?
They have grown with me (hopefully) as I have grown. It’s such a wonderful thing, putting emotions into words. How it’s a constant evolving thing. The meaning of my songs changes all the time. I’ve never been very personal in my music, but then again, I take everything personally. Matters around the world, the battles [with]in humans and dark stories I feel people ought to know about. One day I might write a very personal album. But I feel like I have to go through all the other stories first.
One of the best things about your music videos is that they all seem to have a common aesthetic. How important is the artistic direction of your videos to you? How involved are you in the process of the video creation, and do you always work with the same team to achieve it?
Thank you! I’m very involved in everything that has my name on it. Mostly because I have so many ideas and I always know what I want, or how my children should sound or look. It’s all a part of how I hope I am channeling people’s experiences in my music, in the right spiritual directions. I look for good people who understand where I want to go, and together we make it happen.
You’ve mentioned before that you found it challenging to perform in front of people at the beginning of your career. How was performing in front of a huge crowd in Coachella?
It was very different from any other festival I’ve performed at. I know in [regards to] certain songs of mine, not all people understand my music and I also definitely know that not all people understand me, and that is OK. At Coachella I was surrounded by a different world, almost like a different planet. It was exciting, and it was wonderful to see how the people who came to hear us play belonged with us, and how we all met together surrounded by the same strange world.
Tell us about the place you grew up in. How much has Norwegian nature and folklore affected you as a person and as an artist?
A lot. I’m so inspired by Mother Earth. I love her to death and I don’t know what I would do with myself if I didn’t grow up inside a forest. My home looks like a Norwegian folktale, and I’ve always had a strong connection to that part of my culture.
Seems like environmental causes are very close to your heart. Do you have an environmental project in the works? If so, can you tell us more about it?
I do. I want people to care because I know that we do, as long as we have the capacity in us to care. Sadness, for example, takes a lot of space. So I care a lot about humans, and that we get the help and time we need to get better. If we help ourselves we can then help the world. It just needs to be done in the right way. We get told too much that we’re not doing enough. So I need to make sure it’s planted at the right time, in the right way. Show people how beautiful the world is, and we will fight for it. Show people how similar we are, and we would want to fight for each other.
The flagship song of your last album, ‘Queendom’, feels more larger-than-life and all-encompassing. How did you find the process of creating it? What message were you looking to convey?
It’s very much so. It’s about the world and everything that is alive in it. My wish would be for it to be a very empowering step. As my first album was a lot about dealing with your demons and accepting things as they are, this is about making choices for yourself. To tilt the mirror outwards and look around you, see that we are not alone, but part of a big family. I want people to realize their power. And use it. It’s all about the attitude against life, and obstacles. I take on a few sad stories in it also (as I always do) and ask questions. Why are we the way we are? And can we change it?
Are there any artists you would say have influenced you?
Enya, Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan were the people I listened to when I was a child. I’m inspired by atmospheres and words.
You have covered some iconic songs by artists such as David Bowie, Leonard Cohen and Oasis, to name a few. Which cover did you find the most challenging?
I don’t find it challenging to do covers. It’s only a thing that makes you feel delighted. It’s like time-traveling and a way of keeping music from the past alive.
What advice would you give to anyone looking to establish themselves in the entertainment industry?
It takes a lot of hard work and sacrifice. So I would tell people out there to make sure that they can stand for whatever is being put out in their name and there are so many ways to be a part of the industry. If not a producer, then a writer. An artist. Or a singer. A manager, and band member. A painter, a designer. And if you want, you can do almost all of them. I did.
AURORA will be performing in the UK in the fall. To find out more about her upcoming concerts, visit her official website.