A textbook empath and considerate soul, Norway’s AURORA has an endearing air of childlike sensitivity. Comfortably seated in her mother’s French dress, we caught up over Zoom amid the frenzied #runawayaurora trend and the singer’s monumental TikTok rise.
AURORA’s 2016 single ‘Runaway’ is now the dainty accompaniament to millions of short videos on the increasingly influential TikTok. Predominantly featuring suburban teenagers, the trend has encouraged people to find the charm in their otherwise mundane corners of the world. “Seeing the beauty in the small things is something we all lost on the way” she says. Whether users film lakeside days out, pose elegantly or capture early morning sun beams, the trend's theme is strikingly on brand for AURORA: “It’s nice that people have created a wholesome vibe to it - you never know with the trends! I’m happy it’s not anything horrible.”
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Momentarily gazing at the mountains outside her Bergen window, it’s clear to see AURORA isn’t fazed by the numbers that currently skirt her name. “It’s a very abstract thing for me and therefore I don’t spend time trying to understand it. I’ve just been home, doing my normal things, cooking my dinner, reading my books and being in the studio. I’m very grateful that people are letting my song into their hearts” she softly explains.
Written when she was only 11, the song platforms a prematurely advanced AURORA grapple with the concept of running away from the people we love when we are in pain. “Just like a dog that goes out and dies alone in the forest, we do the same. We struggle so much in talking about these very mutual, normal feelings but can’t deal with them when we are going through them ourselves.”
It’s a universal reality that stumps any age or decade, and her philosophy on the song’s ability to resonate is profound: “Music, unlike us, has no age. If it’s good or relatable, or if it has nerve, it will never die and it will always make sense to someone.”
She’s embarked on a week of interviews, and I’m her last before the weekend. Conscious she may not want to wax lyrical about Runaway any longer, I turn the discussion to the things that make AURORA tick. “My biggest muse is Mother Earth and nature. It always has been and always will be” she gushes. “It grounds me, it opens me up. It humbles and strengthens me.”
Her Nordic roots affording her the luxury of stunning outdoor access, she talks effusively of its importance, and how life’s increasingly high tempo is detrimental. Astutely describing being human as an “extreme sport”, she accredits success to ending up in her own bed at the end of the day. “The world is way too demanding in every area. It’s almost impossible” she laments. Her approach to living is one of simplicity; where surviving is the only necessity and anything else a mere plus. “It’s a matter of life or death, we simply have to survive. And that is enough.”
With last year’s lockdown allowing her to fully immerse herself in her artistry, AURORA found herself revelling in the desolate streets and empty shops, whilst finding ultimate inspiration in the silence. Her introverted intentions thrived whilst she empathised with the struggling extroverts in the world: “Silence is so rare and I love it. I try to be in silence as much as I can”. AURORA famously doesn’t listen to much music apart from fellow celestial Enya: “I’m afraid I’ll miss out on an idea if I’m listening to something else. And I don’t want to be effected by other melodies. It contaminates me” she explains. A theory shared with anything but pretence, AURORA evidently has an ability to hone in on the nuances within the quiet; a skill that requires patience and devotion to creative processes.
Her timely mid-pandemic single ‘Exist For Love’ is a song that prioritises the fundamental importance of love. A delicate step away from previous AURORA releases, its traditional tendencies embody the timeless essence of a '50s love song, a trait only enhanced by its cinematic Isabel Waller-Bridge arranged strings: “I just felt like we needed a divine love song. I truly believe that when we understand love - unselfish pure love - we understand why we exist” she plainly explains, again finding a way to strip down concepts that feel hard to define.
“When I write, I think a lot about what the world will need. I wish to make something that will be good for people.” Often writing selflessly, boundaries are key; being an empath can be exhausting. “I can’t really read the newspapers. I have to learn things through discussion, and then dive into matters if I want to educate myself more. I spend little time on social media because it makes us sad, but it also makes me sad to see so many sad people on social media.” Surrounding herself with others who also tend to give more than they receive, AURORA ensures her good intentions are not misplaced.
As for her fans, they are at the forefront: “I think a lot about them. It’s all for them.” But it will come as no surprise to learn that she doesn’t like the more vacuous side of the industry, and finds getting recognised slightly unsettling. “It’s good to know it’s all worth it. As long as you can say something that means something, you can use the music as a tool to support people out there” she justifies.
Her new single ‘Cure For Me’, out now, is another example of AURORA’s altruistic approach to songwriting. A playful tune that will surprise fans with its cheekiness, it debunks the idea that humans should ever need to be cured, and that anything other than who we are is abnormal. “People are very self-critical and it doesn’t take much for us to assume that something is wrong because we look different, or act different, instead of just accepting that we are different. We are all biologically designed to be unique” she explains. We go on to discuss how we’re led to believe that we’re crazy for being emotional or sensitive: “That’s what inspired me to make this song, as an anti-gaslighting song where you just celebrate that it’s fine, and you’re going to be fine, and I don’t need a ‘Cure For Me' because I’m perfectly ok as I am.”
The song’s juxtaposed setup is a peek into what’s to come: “It’s fun for me to be less serious about things. It’s very new for me. I am often very serious in all my music. I really feel like we need a bit of light right now, everything has been so intense.”
Heading into a newfound artistic side, AURORA is considering how the new sound should be consumed too. With her mystical ability to sonify nature and art, AURORA’s eclectic and ethereal world has always captured feeling in a visual way. “I love to be able to shape how people see my music, even if just a little bit. For many people, it’s easier to understand the whole thing when they can see it as well.” She is currently painting an “intimidating” canvas and studying Egyptian history, alongside Greek and Roman mythology. Finding inspiration in their bohemian attitudes towards female roles, AURORA is focussing on the old, the new and repeated behaviours in between: “Everything we’ve done in history, both good and horrible, has sometimes taught us to be better and sometimes not. Our patterns of behaviour are very interesting.”
So with ‘Cure For Me’ here and a well-researched new artistic process in full flow, AURORA is peacefully going about her business and prioritising the small things that make her feel truly content. Currently, she's filling her home with flowers: “It makes me more happy every day than I could ever imagine.” Her intentions are in the most authentic place; a space that prioritises connection and understanding, and one that prioritises the heart in a world where its complexities are so often dismissed. “As long as we remember to take care of the mind and the heart, we’ll have the capacity to care for others as well” she finally assures me.
'Cure For Me' is out now.