We all remember the albums that shaped us, the ones we bought with our own money. I remember my first vinyl, my first CD, and I’m sure our parents do too! As a 2000s baby, I also vividly remember my iPod. I traded in my flip phone for the newer model of iPod, the ones that were almost phones because they had an LCD touchscreen instead of a wheel clicker. This is when I discovered the ethereal being that is the artist AURORA.
Aurora Aksnes fundamentally changed my brain chemistry the first time I heard “Runaway” in 2015. My mother, very much in control of the media I consumed as a kid, had sent me a link to the album All My Demons Greeting Me As a Friend, recommending it to me. I cashed out my iTunes gift card, and was reborn. The music video currently has 528M views, and her stardom was amassing in lifelong fans around the world. She tours all over the world to sold out shows, spreading her passion for the protection of Mother Nature.
I cannot overstate the power of AURORA. Her vocals are truly haunting and unique, and are extremely difficult to replicate (trust me, I’ve tried). She was inspired by the forests she grew up with in her backyard in Norway. Aurora is extremely expressive and emotional. She often dances around, moving wildly to the music. Her dresses are often loose and flowy, and she seems to prefer being barefoot. Her hair is often braided or cut asymmetrically. If anyone was the living embodiment of the phrase “free spirit” it would be her.
Let’s dig a little deeper into her discography. To compare her to another artist, I would use Hozier or the Paper Kites to explain the more “dark cottagecore” elements to her music. She was just 19 when her full length album was released, but the lyricism is borne of her lifelong interest in music, despite thinking she could never be a singer because she used to hate the sound of her voice.
If you are just starting out listening to her, I would recommend her KEXP performance. She’s less shy than she is in her older NPR performance, and we get to see the full range of emotions that her music possesses move through her as she performs in an intimate setting, inches from the crowd. If you want to see more of her amazing performances, watch her on The Current and perform at the Nidarosdomen church at Christmas. They each have very different energies, but the thing about AURORA is that she can enchant a room, and keep every eye on her while she sings.
Here are some of my favorite AURORA songs! My absolute fave has to be “Boxes”. She wrote it as a kid, which is insane to me, due to the darker content. It reminds me of Mitski’s “Circle”. “Murder Song” was one of my favorites as a kid, and it has a black and white music video, which tells you how amazing it is. It was really just a glimpse at how much potential her voice held for future albums. “Winter Bird” is another incredible one, and I know several of these are off an album that came out eight years ago, but sue me. It transports me to this image of a woman staring out at a harbor with ships constantly moving in and out while she’s trapped in the house, the window slowly frosting over. “Wisdom Cries” is one of the most experimental songs I’ve ever listened to, and turning it all the way up makes me feel like I’m lost in Wonderland and it’s about to thunderstorm (trust me). “Everything Matters”, off a newer album (“The Gods We Can Touch”) is another strong, imagery-rich song. With just a few lines, AURORA pulls us into the story, weaving the picture together as we listen, entranced.The environmentally conscious, sensitive, emotional woman that is Aurora is someone that I believe was put on Earth for a reason. While much of the music industry can produce music that sometimes feels soulless, AURORA is all original, full of heart and life.