A debut album is always a pretty important milestone in any musician's career - none moreso than Aurora, whose album 'All My Demons Greeting Me As A Friend' is a true journey into her mind and soul.
A natural-born songwriter, Aurora was born in a countryside town in Norway, and went from learning classical music to composing her own in a matter of years. She wrote the song 'Runaway' when she was just 12-years-old, and her writing abilities have only grown since then. The album highlights her intelligent lyrical observations about life, making remarks that are universally relatable and understandable.
We recently spoke to Aurora on the phone about the album, experiencing sadness, her love of nature, and more…
COUP DE MAIN: 'I Went Too Far' is one of my favourite songs from the album, the sentiment really rings true to everyone, I feel. I love the lyric, “I tried to reach for another soul / So I can feel whole.” Do you think that it's dangerous to rely on someone else entirely for one's own happiness?
AURORA: I definitely think it is. I think one of the most important things to do in life is to know how valuable you are in yourself, and how much power you have to make yourself happy. It's very important to learn to swim, and not only to be held up by someone else - you're more likely to survive in this big ocean we call life. <laughs>
CDM: Is the line from 'Home', "Wrapped inside a cocoon made of flesh and bones / Doesn't really matter where you come from,” what inspired the album cover? What was it about the line that stuck with you to transfer it to the cover of your body of work?
AURORA: It is - you're quite clever actually. That line did inspire the album cover a lot. I think when we're born-- we are born into this world and we become humans, and we learn how to work in this society, which is quite complicated these days. It's a strange process, being a human in the modern world. It's almost like when we're alive, it's like being in a cocoon. After this, there will be more-- I'm just imagining life being like a cocoon, you are working on becoming yourself more and more each day, the older you get, because that's what ageing is, it's becoming the person you are meant to be. You learn and you grow, and it's a nice image.
CDM: In 'Runaway' you sing, “I've been putting sorrow on the farest place on my shelf.” Do you think it's part of human nature to naturally hide or avoid the confrontation of sadness?
AURORA: Oh, yes, absolutely. It's much easier to turn your head around, as we do with many things today, that are unpleasant and sad that happen in the world - we tend to just pretend that it's not there, instead of actually realising that we can actually help ourselves and help the world by acknowledging that this is a problem. It's very important to be honest with yourself, and I think it's very healthy to cry. Every time I'm sad, I just think that, 'Okay, so now I'm sad. One day, that will be gone. I won't be sad forever. It's okay to be sad now.' I try to cry it out, and to feel, because the more you touch your wounds, the more you get used to feeling, it becomes less scary. And it must be horrible to be scared by something so natural like sadness, it's important to embrace all sides of life.
CDM: It's such a universal emotion, everyone gets sad. It's crazy to think that you can try to avoid it.
AURORA: Oh yeah, it is crazy. But we are weird creatures, aren't we?
CDM: The album deals with a lot of emotions, relating to escapism, inner sanctuary, depression, and more. What do you think is the strongest human emotion?
AURORA: I think love. I think humans are naturally selfish somehow, because we are instinct-wise about surviving, and taking care of ourselves. It's not before we love someone that we forget that basic instinct that we've had for thousands of years. It's weird how loving someone can make you willing to sacrifice everything you've got for that person. That's definitely a very strong force in society, that makes us forget about selfishness. It's the most purest thing in the world, and is therefore also very powerful and strong.
CDM: Your music and imagery has a strong relationship to nature - was this something you always knew would happen with your music? What is it about nature that you think suits your work so much?
AURORA: Well, I live in Norway in the countryside. From the age of three, I was almost always outside - running in the forest, laying in the grass. I've just been in nature lots, I'm used to not wearing shoes, and picking wild blueberries, and climbing trees. I just love nature, it's like a big playground, and it smells nice, it smells fresh. All the tiny bugs everywhere just make you feel so big. It also reminds you of how small you are compared to the world and the universe. Just being in nature opens your mind, because you don't have all the noise from the cities, and no-one else's energy can effect you, it's just you. It's just really magical, it's just being where we are meant to be, because we are originally very attached to nature. We can't survive without it, it's so important for us.
CDM: I cannot believe that you wrote 'Runaway' when you were only 12-years-old - it's incredible. How does your songwriting process work - do you tend to start with lyrics and then turn them into a melody, or the other way around?
AURORA: <laughs> Well, I think the process is very different every time. Sometimes I do these relaxing things, like falling asleep, or taking a shower, or sitting in a car - that's always where the ideas come from. Maybe it can be lyric idea or just a melody line, or a scene, and I think, 'Oh, I have to write this song about this or that.' It's very different every time, it always originates from this small idea that comes from nowhere. If I have a piano nearby, I will go to the piano and start playing and make a melody, and then the lyrics will come afterwards. Mostly now I'm travelling around everyday, and I don't have the muscles or anything to carry a piano with me - so therefore I'm writing lyrics first, then I can add melody the next time I have an instrument nearby.
CDM: The production in 'Murder Song' is amazing - and it's something that you're quite involved in. How do you find that process compared to songwriting?
AURORA: I love writing songs. It's very soothing, and it feels like a creative thing that can't be taken away from you. It's the most wonderful feeling, it's like having a child - but a bit less painful <laughs> - luckily for songwriters. It's just such a magical feeling, writing a song. You get so satisfied in your brain and in your heart, and in your ears. And then you go to the studio, to make the child into a real person with a body, and a sound, and a look, with a personality. I just feel like I'm going crazy [in the studio] because you've got all these ideas, and you've got to try to fit them into one song, it's almost stressful, because I need to get everything on the paper before I forget it. I just love being in the studio, it feels like fireworks. But it's very strange to be in the studio when you have many people expecting songs, expecting the songs to be something that will be liked by many people or will fit into radio - that's a very strange thing, having to adapt to what people think. But I think the more you grow and the older you get, the wiser and stronger you get... one day I'll just do what I want. I know I will always listen to people, because people have lots of wonderful things to say, and wonderful ideas and inputs which are great, but when I really listen to myself - which I will do more and more - it makes it magical being in a studio and producing, it's a really cool thing. I love it.
CDM: Your music has some of the most interesting harmonies that I've ever heard in pop music. When you layer vocals, how do you go about creating harmonies that are so interesting to listen to?
AURORA: Oh, well I have no idea! I just do it very naturally. When I listen to a song on the radio, I always try to add a melody, and a harmony or something. I have no idea where it comes from, it feels like I can hear all the harmonies already - I just have to find them. They are there, and they need to be there, it's very strange. It's instinct, almost - obviously I hear that there need to be five harmonies, I just have to find them. I love harmonies, I love using the voice, it's very nice.
CDM: You did a beautiful cover of David Bowie's 'Life On Mars', which was used on an episode of 'Girls'. You made it really unique. Do you feel a pressure when covering such an iconic song?
AURORA: Well, it's always a bit scary to cover a song, because really loyal fans don't like their favourite songs being covered by other artists - especially if that song gets played on the radio and then they have to hear it all the time. I'm just like that as well though, if someone covers Björk or Bob Dylan, I always prefer the original. I do like 'Life On Mars', and I love David Bowie, and his art. I just like the experience of singing the song - I've done ['Life On Mars'] live for almost two years now, it's been part of my set for a long time - and just the experience in itself by doing the song is so wonderful, that if everyone hated it, I would still do it. It feels nice. It's such a nice song, it feels very satisfying to sing.
CDM: Lastly, when can we hope to see you play a show in New Zealand?
AURORA: I am definitely coming there, one day! I really want to go, and I want to see all the places where scenes from 'Lord Of The Rings' were filmed. But I'm hoping, I think I've heard talk about going there during Winter or Autumn time this year. And if not this year, then it will be around Spring next year. It would be so cool!
Aurora's debut album 'All My Demons Greeting Me As A Friend' is out now - click HERE to purchase it via iTunes.
Watch the 'Conqueror' music video below…