Sounds of the World: Norway – AURORA

After I decided my column would be a taste of different musicians and bands around the world, I had the dilemma of choosing who first to write about. I wanted something different, rather than the “popular” music we see on the television; something I had a personal connection with and something I’d love to showcase to new listeners. So, upon scrolling through the music collection on my phone, I immediately stopped when I came upon AURORA. The album cover for All My Demons Greeting Me As A Friend drew me in. After all, who doesn’t love the fusion of a humanoid-moth?

For those of you who haven’t heard of AURORA, here are a few quick facts about her: her full name is Aurora Aksnes, she hails from the beautiful land of Norway, and her debut album came out when she was only nineteen. I know, right, makes me wonder what I’ve been doing all these years.

In an interview with bsidestv Aurora said: “All children are kind of weird and different and we try to fit into a box which I think is really sad.”. This here is probably the best way to describe AURORA’s musical aesthetic. It’s a journey through life. A weird, raw and sometimes emotional journey which she captures through her layered yet delicate electro-pop.

I came upon the album when I was creating a playlist for my trip to Canada. The first track I clicked on was “Conqueror”. The song bursts with energy and positivity and I could already imagine myself jamming out to it on the airplane. But it wasn’t until I bought the album that I realised how complex and deep the music was.
The 12-track album begins with “Runaway”, which sets the tone of the record and draws the listener in. The song has a simple beat and gentle humming, which leads into solid and echoing vocals about a girl begging to get back to the place where she belongs – home. It is a simple first track yet it captures the essence of the album; haunting yet inspiring.

Many of her songs shadow the same gentle synth-pop vibe as the track “Winter Bird” follows up with the same evocative experience. When I was listening to this song I felt like I was being hypnotised with its auto-tuned layers and repetitive lonely phrase “All I need is to remember how it was to feel alive.”. It’s as if AURORA combined Imogen Heap’s electro pop beat with, another Norwegian singer, Susanne Sundfør’s echoing vocals to create something new and evocative but mandatory.

Another personal favourite of mine is the track “I Went Too Far” which hides a Nordic folk song inside itself. The music video for the track is beautiful and symbolic; exhibiting the pleading nature we have for affection and gratification in society. It’s curious how the song has such an upbeat chorus that makes you want to close your eyes and dance around in your room, yet it holds a serious and melancholy undertone ending with “I had to walk away.” But trust me, after listening to the song all you’ll want to do is dive deeper into the imagination and music of AURORA.

Aurora looks like a delicate wallflower yet she holds and incredible imagination of talking trees and the wind in the form of a mystic lady. All My Demons Greeting Me As A Friend is a rollercoaster ride of authenticity and vulnerability with intelligent and meaningful lyrics. Her music moves and shifts from broody, deep reflection and then suddenly erupts into a bright bounce of electric energy. The music might not always follow a happy narrative but it is always powerful.

By Erran Kerrigan