“It’s just one goal. To be a warrior of light - That’s the only mission.” Aurora is very clear on what she wants to happen with the release of her second album.
In a world so filled with darkness and poisonous rhetoric, the purity of Aurora, and her statement are a guiding beacon through the thick fog. While such statements could be attributed to a naivety, the truth is Aurora sees beyond any ‘normal’ plane. Instead, she’s acutely aware of the world. Its misgivings and goodness. It all swells deeply within her mind, to be gently touched and then discarded, or filed away, as required. Most importantly though, she’s all she needs.
“I like quiet places. I like [that] I can recharge my batteries when I’m alone. I love to be alone. I love myself. I love my own company, and I have done since I was three years old. I’ve been quite confident in feeling that I am enough to entertain myself.”
Certainly, words like this can sound narcissistic on the surface, but with her meditative cadence, the sincerity pours through. For Aurora Aksnes, hailing from Norway, itself a wintery paradise that offers as much isolation as it does urban living, being around herself has always come from nature.
“I do enjoy the quietness of where I live. I have a place in the city where I live with my sister, but then I have a place out in the forest which is very beautiful. You can walk naked in the garden, and you can hear nothing but birds and wind out there. There’s no wind or traffic…”
Remaining this isolated, and elusive in 2018, is incredibly impressive. With the connectivity of the world presenting itself as a haven while ultimately remaining a dangerous outlet for most, retaining any form of purity is near on impossible.
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Up in one of the breakout rooms of her label, Aurora is laying on the hard floor. As a bustling London flows on the ground below, she perkily jumps up to introduce herself to Clash. The fact that she’s doing yoga in an environment that is so incredibly stressful for most goes to show the directive of her mind. “It’s very soothing. I’ve been lying on the floor for a little while…feeling how heavy everything is. Even my fingers…” she explains dreamily.
She’s here to discuss her full-length return. A two-part album, the first, ‘Infections of a Different Kind - Step 1’ strips away the complexities of human life and presents them with Aurora’s pure outlook. “It began as a whole, collective piece, and then I did think about it, before making it, that I would like people to have time for every song,” she ponders. “The less you have of something, the more you see what the ‘something’ is made out of, the deeper you can dive into every song which I like the idea of.”
The societal aspects of Aurora ring clear throughout ‘Step 1’, but the sounds - the melding beats and sparse synths, the delicate strings and rousing choruses; they stem from a world away from her secret garden. “I’m very inspired by visiting different places. I can hear, in the music that I make, changes from where the seed of the song came from before it becomes my flower - not my vagina, but a song!” she quickly titters.
The seeds that get planted across her travels make their way eventually into the music she creates. But the moments are left where they first started, and no need for Aurora to unpack, which she astutely states.
“Everything makes more sense in the moment to me. Afterwards, I let go of it. And I leave it. I don’t tend to carry anything else from the past, other than grief. That’s the thing I carry quite close for quite a long time, but not sadness. When I leave a place, I leave it in every way possible, because when I’m home, I am home. When I’m out, I’m out. I don’t miss home.
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For Aurora, setting her creations free into the world is equivalent to being the foster-parent to a child that you adore, but ultimately knowing you’ll have to let go one day. Walking away from her songs and sending them off to be mastered is her final farewell to her children, bar Queendom and Forgotten Love which she admits were a tad delayed after having a re-listen.
“The only way to truly be done with art is to leave it behind,” she says matter-of-factly. “You’re never done with something as wild as art, and as alive. And changing. It’s impossible. The only way for me to accept that I'm done is to leave it. In regards to actual influence from peers and other music, while her record collection may be small, with the likes of Lorde and Childish Gambino being amongst the more modern choices, music still filters in through the day to day world. Even the soothing piano genial playing across the sound-system today.
But, there’s one form of music that truly doesn’t sit right with Aurora. “I’m not into music that worships sadness,” she confesses. “That worships depression, that only helps you dig your hole and stay there in the darkness.”
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“I love the music that allows you to feel what you need to feel. That allows you to cry, and be angry, and all of those fundamental emotions that should not stay inside, because then you explode and die. I’m really into music that helps you a bit further than just the crying part. That helps you beyond it. That you can accept it, and then get to peace with it, shows you there’s a light around the sad.”
“Of course, because it’s music. It will always be many things, whether it’s on purpose or not. People are masterminds of finding their own meanings. It’s kind of like we look for…we see what we need in music.”
Sliding back into the ethereal figurativeness, she refers to herself as a “vessel” for her music to flow through. With no formal training, nor self-understanding of why or how she can do what she does, it’s hard to disagree. “It’s very nice to think about music in the same way, that it doesn’t need to come from the core. Is it …life? Is it a planet? Is it a thing that just kind of lies around, and some people can just pick it up, and put it together. I don’t know; it’s this magical thing with music. It comes out of nothing. It’s like I’m having a little break from existing when I sing.”
Going back to the originating seed that’s grown throughout ‘Step 1’, wherein the world that Aurora has grown up in is so easy to dispose of people; and even for others to just be their own vessels of negativity. With her explanation of the world, 2018 in particular, ‘Step 1’s meaning comes together.
“It’s very hard to be human. It’s tough to find a way if you’re just slightly lost, it can take you far, far away from your path and you end up somewhere where you didn’t want to be.” She says sadly. “Often the best people are the ones who get lost. It’s just like we see in the music industry, there have been many people who died, and are dying, drugs, and depression. It’s the age of mental illness, the time we live in. It’s less about survival instinct and the basic chores of the day, and it’s more complicated because people are feeling a lot of pressure.”
‘Step 1’ is Aurora offering up an understanding, but she has even more advice that reflects her natural surroundings. “Harvesting!” She piques. “They say gardening or harvesting food from your garden, like apples, calms your body down because it brings you back to your roots of being a gatherer, or a harvester. Which we are! That’s what humans are.”
When questioned on if she believes that the position of humans has changed from basic hunter- gatherer to a more ‘what can we offer the world’, the real depth of Aurora comes into play; “It’s much more cynical than that. I feel like many people are bored. We know so much now about everyone else; what they did yesterday compared to what you did, how they look compared to how you look, and it’s peculiar to think that we are letting go of living our own lives because we are spending time comparing our lives to other people.”
"Then it’s very easy to find mistakes because that’s what we do. We are very good at hating ourselves, and it’s very sad to see because people are so beautiful. People are so nice, and they’re so capable of things. We’ve done so many amazing things, next to all the horrible things we’ve done.”
So, with ‘Step 1’ now firmly out in the world; ready for it be dissected and absorbed by all of those who need it, it’s anyone's guess as to what ‘Step 2’ will entail. But you can rest assured that the purity it will bring will continue shining Aurora’s blinding wisened light through the dark world, and will give us all something to ponder.
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'Infections Of A Different Kind – Step I' is out now.
Words: Steven Loftin
For tickets to the latest Aurora shows click HERE.
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