Fr, 20. Sep 2024

FM4 Indiekiste presents AURORA UK & EUROPE TOUR 2024

In April 2022, AURORA read a letter that changed her life. It was co-written by indigenous activists, titled ‘We Are the Earth’, and called for a revolution: a collective response to global warming – to “heal the land”. They described being connected to the land “through our hearts”, and the earth as “the heart that pulsates within us.” The letter led AURORA to consider a question: what happened to the heart? “Everything we do is about greed, about money, about mass consumption, about capitalism,” she says, blue wide-eyed and flooded with feeling. “There’s war everywhere, countries under water, flowers in Antarctica. We are ruining our land, mistreating our animals, our clothing, and each other. We have stopped leading from the heart.” And so 27-year-old Norwegian art-pop superstar AURORA began studying books on human anatomy. She wanted to understand when and why Western culture lost touch with the deeper purpose of our most vital organ. “The ancient Greeks thought the heart was the portal to spiritual divinity, that it represented the interconnectedness of the world,” she says. “But then Aristotle comes along and says, ‘the heart is a pump’. Then Plato says, ‘the heart makes blood’. Then another guy says, ‘the heart filters the blood’. And so bit by bit, it became purely functional. We had misinterpreted its whole meaning.” The letter also resonated with AURORA on a more personal level. In 2022, she released her chart-topping last album, ‘The Gods We Can Touch’, which saw her complete a sold out UK headline tour, including at BST Hyde Park alongside Adele. With over a million album sales and 2.6 billion streams, and her inaugural ‚The Gods We Can Touch‘ book selling 14,000 copies (while signed copies sold out in less than an hour), AURORA was at her professional peak. Yet at the same time she experienced something painful that split her in two. She sensed a disconnect between her mind and heart. “It made me understand women in a way I hadn’t before. It made me understand how evil hides behind the nicest of faces.” AURORA’s fourth album, ‘What Happened to the Heart?’, is a journey from weakness to strength, from self-destruction to self-healing. Of reuniting a fractured self. “It’s actually the most personal and cathartic album I have ever written,” she says quietly, as if the realisation had only just come to her. ‘Some Type of Skin’, a dark slice of electro-pop, reveals the conflict at the album’s core. “When you’re vulnerable, anything that brushes up against you makes you bleed,” she says. “But you need to go into battle, you need to build some type of skin.” In the song, AURORA cries: “Hit me hard where I am soft… should my heart reveal itself to be more than a muscle? Or a fist covered in blood?” To build her armour, AURORA decided to throw herself into chaos. “Usually I am very careful, very reasonable” she says. “But for once I wanted to experience what it felt to be unreasonable. I needed to be destructive.” So she gave herself a year, while she was touring ‘The Gods We Can Touch’, to throw herself into life hard and fast. “A lot of alcohol, very little sleep, a lot of fun,” she smiles, a little wistfully. She went ice swimming and hurled things in rage rooms. “It was painful, but I was building skin.” The chaos extended to the writing process. “I had a rule: I could only write in unsafe spaces, I needed to be rootless.” That meant no forests, where AURORA had spent much of her childhood in Bergen, Norway – a solitary safe haven away from those who made her “feel alien”. These “unsafe spaces” were loud, full of people, “strange smells, noises…anywhere where I could feel observed”. AURORA travelled all over the word, meeting with women she describes as modern day philosophers, “women with true knowledge”. In particular, three female tribe leaders in Colombia, Brazil and Argentina. “There is wisdom in their indigenous values. These women live in the modern world just like us, but they still choose to live with kindness.” She was inspired by their feminine power. “Men have been leading us for thousands of years and look where that has got us. We need change, and women have had everything figured out from the very beginning of time. We were the first timekeepers, we could track the seasons inside our own bodies.” She grins cheekily. “I would be scared of us too, if I were a man.” Feminine strength inspired ‚The Gods We Can Touch‘ – fighting against internal shame and societal judgement of the female body – and it is no less present here. Above the throbbing techno of ‚Starvation‘, produced by German Nicolas Rebscher, who also worked on her debut EP ‚Running With the Wolves‘, AURORA mourns the depletion of the human spirit as a result of technological invasion that is particularly threatening to women. “Our souls are starving, because AI is taking over; art is being replaced by computers,” she says, gravely. “And women, our consent, is being exploited, as it always has been, from porn to deep fakes.” The act of mourning is integral to ‘What Happened to the Heart?’. As AURORA says, “I’ve been thinking a lot about funerals, and in the music people used to deal with death”. She drew on buried grief for loved ones, as well mourning her former self. “In Norway there is a culture of repression. I suppressed something for so long, and became infected by it,” she says, with a deep sigh. “So once I began to properly address my past, I realised that a lot of things I remembered were very different from how I imagined. And I had to accept that I have to change to move on. I am not the same as I was“. She adds, firmly: „I have to learn how to work with this body, in this mind, as they are now.” This mourning led to a kind of holy communion between AURORA’s heart and mind for the first time. “I spent a lot of time drinking wine alone, speaking out loud, my heart and mind finally in conversation.” She would record these conversations and later transcribe them as fodder for her songs, such as ‘The Dark Dresses Lightly’, a haunting folkloric melody over an urgent drum pattern, which imagines the heart and the mind as two characters sitting at a table, drinking together – you can even hear the glasses clinking in the production. AURORA leans forward conspiratorially. “So the heart says, ‘Okay, now, we’ve gone too long without communicating. Tonight, we’re going to get drunk, go deep into this shit, and explode on each other’.” The song is the album’s turning point, AURORA adds, “when all the ugly has come out, and you can kind of hear me having an orgasm because getting everything out is so delicious, and the healing can truly begin.” These imaginary exchanges felt so visceral to AURORA that she would sometimes paint them; the heart and mind in a sword duel, “splattering all over each other”, she says, her face lighting up with mischievous delight. It’s a viscerality mirrored by the album’s production: a thrumming, primal force that confronts the almost ecclesiastical purity of AURORA’s own vocals. “It reflects this idea of the body falling apart, and being glued back together by something inhuman.” This discord is brought to life by “beautiful old synthesisers” that AURORA found all over the world, including with previous collaborator Tom Rowlands of The Chemical Brothers. “I got him to puke all over the song ‘My Body is Not Mine’ with his old modular synths” she says, which, fittingly, “had a mind of their own.” Despite the thematic and sonic darkness of the album, AURORA wanted to maintain a certain playfulness. “A very random, very intuitive,” way of producing. She collaborated with some of her favourite Norwegian artists and producers, from Ane Brun on ‘My Name’, to Matias Tellez on ‘Invisible Wounds’. On some tracks she plays the drums, a fiddle player and a traditional Chinese Pipa player were brought in, and some songs contain a “beautiful mandolin from the 60s”, she says, smiling, picking up an imaginary bow as she loses herself in the memory. There is even a disco song, ‘Do You Feel?’, produced by longtime collaborator Magnus Skylstad and sure to be a club-banger and chart hit. “It makes no sense, I have no idea why it’s on the album,” AURORA laughs, like a tinkling bell. “But my sister was born in the 80s and I was kind of thinking about her. And I liked the idea of having a song that made no sense.” Not all these songs are a product of chaos, however. The first and the last songs of the album, ‘The Echo of My Shadow’ and ‘Invisible Wounds’, were written in the quiet. “In my living room, where it was safe. They came directly from my solitude.” And with this quiet comes hope: “We both need to/Tend to the invisible wounds,” AURORA sings, a call to action for herself, to the listener, and to the world, to rupture with this malignant state of inertia, to fight back, to heal. “We need to stop this sense of global denial. We need to blow up, because it’s important, sometimes, to explode. Explosion is vital for change, to put the heart back into politics.” She smiles, and says, in the softest tone: “I think what we need… is a small riot.” END

  • Einlass 19:00
  • Beginn 20:00
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Raiffeisen Halle im Gasometer
Guglgasse 8, Gasometer B, 1110 Wien
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