After hearing her lithe, fairytale-reminiscent songs, perhaps it wouldn’t surprise you to learn that AURORA (born Aurora Aksnes) hails from a Norwegian city with a name translates to “Fjord of Lights.” Or that when she was six, the future singer/songwriter was disciplined for convincing classmates that their school was overrun with talking mice. Or even that her first brush with making music was discovering a toy piano, and she managed to keep her hobby a secret from her parents until well into her teen years.
Now nineteen and on the cusp of releasing her debut full-length, All My Demons Greeting Me as a Friend, AURORA’s fantasies have only grown, inhabiting every corner of her music. A girl makes peace with her murderer and the inherit vulnerability of life in the haunting piano ballad “Murder Song (5,4,3,2,1).” A runaway fades away into the wonder of nature over the course of “Runaway,” her escape marked with harpsichord, live percussion, and an undeniable sense of wonder. And coupled with an anthemic swell of synths and AURORA’s triumphant vocal, “Running With the Wolves” makes tapping into one’s lupine side seem not only plausible but downright irresistible.
“When I was very young, younger than now, I could listen to songs by Cohen and Bob Dylan, not even knowing the English language yet, and still kind of understand what the song was about, and have a sense of emotion from the song without knowing the words,” AURORA reveals. “I always strive to be better and I always feel like everything I’m making can be better if I had more time. I’m very picky. But the most important thing is the emotion in the song, of course. So I hope that the emotions in my songs are clear enough that you don’t need to know what the words mean.”
Nowhere is that idea of overflowing visceral content more evident than her new single “Conqueror,” where, against a percussive wave, she sings of someone longing to be rescued from “Broken mornings/broken nights/broken days in between.” Written for fun one night in the studio with her bandmates (who she refers to as her “second family”) AURORA calls the anthem a personal reminder—in addition to being one of the most fun songs in her catalogue to perform live.
“I know that I’m very sensitive,” she admits. “In many ways I’m weak. But if you’re weak, you’re also very strong. Because you need to work a bit harder to survive as well…You have to find the conqueror in yourself at first, I think. That’s what I think about in the song. It’s just a person who hasn’t realized that yet. That person is still trying to find the conqueror in someone else. You have to find the conqueror in yourself to land on your own feet. You are the only one you need to survive. Then other people will make your life a good life as well. It’s important to be strong in yourself.”
However AURORA prefers to swap weakness and sorrow for happiness, punctuating even the heaviest of topics with laughs and thoughtful tangents. Even her album title, a metaphor for making peace with your past, hints at a chance for not only redemption, but also joy amidst the darkness.
“I don’t want to write sad songs only to make people sad,” she notes. “I’ll end up with lots of depressed fans.” At that admission AURORA pauses, giggling as she admits she’s crying as she speaks, a byproduct of just reflecting on all the support she’s received so far.
“That’s not my goal at all,” she continues. “But I want to people to know that it’s not dangerous to cry or think of something sad for a while. It’s easier to think about it through a song, which can also be beautiful while being sad. It’s like taking medicine with a teaspoon of sugar. It’s important to have some hope.”