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At just 18 years old, Aurora Aksnes has the kind of career most musicians can only dream of. Not only does the Norwegian singer and songwriter boast a stunning, haunting sound, but with a newly inked major record deal and her debut EP on the way, it’s only a matter of time before Aurora’s mystical tracks like “Runaway” and “Running With The Wolves” infiltrate iTunes libraries everywhere.
Oh, and just in case you needed further convincing: Katy Perry’s already a fan, calling out the “angel” on Twitter. But despite her swift rise (she never even played her music in public until just recently) and undeniable talent, this is a teenager who remains firmly down-to-earth — and that’s arguably the coolest part about her. Just before her Running With The WolvesEPdrops May 4, we Skyped in with Aurora to talk about how she got discovered, her sound, and raiding her grandmother’s closet.
Your EP, Running With The Wolves, comes out next month. How long has it been in the works? I didn’t really know that we were even making a EP before January, actually. So the EP itself hasn’t been planned that long.
You’re only 18, but you started playing music when you were really little. Did you grow up in a musical family? It’s just me who plays music in my family! I was six when I started teaching myself to play piano. I really love classic music, and when I found this piano in the attic, I just started pressing the keys and trying to figure out my favorite classical songs. I started to make melodies that I recognized. There was something special about being able to play just by yourself – something about the emotion in it made me want to continue playing.
How did you begin playing music professionally? I didn’t expect to ever play music professionally, until, like now. [Laughs] It wasn’t planned – I never knew or even hoped of that. So many things have happened and I don’t even know how they happened. I think that after I got signed by Universal Music and Glassnote Records, that’s when I realized that this could actually be a thing.
How did you get discovered? The thing is, I never played in public, really. I decided to record a song for my mom and my dad for Christmas one year, and one of my friends put that song online without asking. The next day it had about 10,000 views in Norway; it became really big, really fast. People started sharing and commenting. Suddenly I got a management, and then I had to make a Facebook page, and now I have fans, and then before I knew it everything had happened.
Are you glad your friend posted that song, even without your permission? It’s weird, because she posted the song a week after I had my first school show. Someone filmed that show as well, and put it online. It was actually that video that got me my management. It was sort of both of those things at once.
How are you balancing school and music? I’m taking a break from school to focus on music right now. I travel all the time and I’m never home, so it’s the right thing to do right now. I don’t regret taking a break, but it’s weird—school is the one place you see people your own age, and now I’m with a lot of adults. It’s definitely worth it, though.
What types of things inspire your songs? As a child I was very sensitive. If someone was ever in a bad mood at school, it would really affect me. I was overly sensitive and also very anxious, and that was what made me write songs – it helped me to talk about these things to myself. My songs are inspired by my experiences, or things that I imagine happening to other people.
Your style is so great. Who are your style icons? I don’t have a style icon; I just happen to have many weird clothes in my closet! I care, of course, but I don’t really think about it too much. I’m wearing a jumpsuit right now that I got from a thrift shop in London. I like to give people an idea about who I am through my clothing.
What are your favorite places to shop? I really love vintage shopping; my favorite place is Beyond Retro in London. It’s really brilliant! They have really cool old stuff that doesn’t look like it’s from your granny – although I do like looking for clothes in my grandmother’s attic.