September 26, 2023


Arts Eternal

Elfin pop princess refuses to be put into a box – ‘We should embrace all sides of people’

Norwegian singer Aurora Aksnes, aka Aurora, at the Hoxton hotel in Paris.
Photo: Stephane De Sakutin/AFP

  • Elfin singer-songwriter Aurora aims to share a message of tolerance and acceptance in her music.
  • She took inspiration from ancient myth and a ghostly castle for her latest album, The Gods We Can Touch.
  • She rose to fame in 2015 with her single, Runaway, which has more than 430 million listens on Spotify.

Norwegian singer-songwriter Aurora describes herself as “half-human, half-pixie” and her other-worldly pop has amassed hundreds of millions of listens around the world.

For her latest album, The Gods We Can Touch, the 25-year-old tells AFP she took inspiration from ancient myth and a ghostly castle in her homeland for a record about tolerance and giving up the relentless pursuit of perfection.

“I find it very scary, the pressure that life has to be an adventure all the time,” she said during a visit to Paris.

“As if we have to justify that we exist by constantly doing things – learning, working out, being beautiful, having followers, being rich – all these things that don’t really make any sense.”

Nonetheless, Aurora has done lots of interesting things in her short career.

Born Aurora Aksnes in 1996, she built a following in Norway as a young teenager with the piano-led songs she uploaded to the internet.

Then, her 2015 single Runaway┬ámade her an international sensation – it currently has more than 430 million listens on Spotify – with her elfin appearance and the Scandinavian lilt in her voice leading to comparisons with Bjork.

That was followed by two successful albums and colloborations with the likes of The Chemical Brothers and Disney film Frozen 2.


A message of tolerance and acceptance

Seeking a new state of mind to record her latest album, she found the perfect location: A small castle in a remote corner of Norway that was owned by a French nobleman some 400 years ago.

“He loved art and invited people to come show and create art in his company,” she told AFP. “I felt like I was another one of his guests. He’d be very happy to hear people were making art there again.

“I wanted to make a song in French in case his ghost was haunting me,” she added, referring to her song with French popstar Pomme.

As with all her work, a message of tolerance and acceptance runs through the album.

“Not so much here in France, but in many countries, people are so awkward with their skin and their bodies and sexualities,” she said.

“We have this one life to live and it’s just devastating to think we have to spend it being ashamed of who we are, whether it’s being gay, a woman, a man, anything.”

“We should embrace all sides of people”

Her recent single Cure For Me┬ámakes it explicit, with its central refrain, “I don’t need a cure for me”.

Artemis, meanwhile, refers to the Greek goddess of hunting and chastity.

“She was a virgin and a hunter. I love those words being together,” said Aurora.

“We should embrace all sides of people – the innocent and the sensual, the masculine and feminine. We all have something of everything in us. I don’t like that we are always being told we can only be one thing.”

Another album is already in the works, and Aurora wants the French connection to continue.

“I will record it in another castle I think. But in a French one this time!