Aurora: “Everything we do is about greed. We’ve stopped leading from the heart”

Norwegian alt-pop priestess Aurora is reborn, flooded with feeling and traversing bold sonic territory to find out 'Where did the heart go?' and send a club-driven call for humanity.


A bartender slides a tequila on the rocks my way in a Soho dive as I follow Aurora’s instruction take myself out for a drink, tune into her album with headphones and rekindle my relationship to my heart. 

‘What Happened To The Heart?’ is Aurora’s follow-up to 2022’s banger-heavy ‘The Gods We Can Touch’. It’s an ode to the death of her former self, and a club-driven call to humanity when the planet is dying and the world is at war.

It’s music for the heart and mind in a sword duel, “splattering all over each other” or writhing until dawn on the dancefloor.  


The Norwegian pop polymath proves her prowess and ups the ante. As songwriter, she lays her emotions viscerally bare and sends a powerful message. As a dancer, she throws shapes and commands us to get into the groove then flexes vocal acrobatics over throbbing techno, ecstatic Euro-pop, and pulsating funk. Production features come courtesy of Tom Rowlands from Chemical Brothers but in terms of credits, she’s also taking a moment to thank The Earth. 

When we meet, a mirrored elevator soars to the top of Universal’s headquarters in London, where Aurora is sitting at a piano. In an instant, it’s clear that despite her gargantuan 3.3 million following, co-signs from SZA and Rosalía, collabs from Disney to Bring Me The Horizon, a sold-out show at Royal Albert Hall and freshly-pressed album, what Aurora loves most is the connections lingering between notes. 

Before we plunge into matters of the heart, what inspired her fifth studio album, and what the future holds, Aurora admires my rings and tells me I look like a star. For one hour, I’m in the orbit of one of the brightest and remarkably spell-binding artists in the pop sphere. 

Hi Aurora. What’s happened to the heart?

Everything we do is about greed, about money, about mass consumption, capitalism. There’s war everywhere, genocide in Gaza, countries under water, flowers in Antarctica. The planet is, well, fucked. We are ruining our land, mistreating our animals, our women and each other. We have stopped leading from the heart.

How did you set out on this journey? 

I’m a nerd. I read a lot and I came across an ancient letter written by indigenous activists in 2022 titled ‘We Are the Earth’, and it changed my life. They were calling for a revolution, demanding that the world leaders pay attention to global warming and “heal the land”. They described the earth as “the heart that pulsates within us.” And that got me thinking, the world has grown so accustomed to being apathetic. Why did we stop valuing the heart’s abilities?

What were you surprised to discover in your research?

I went very deep into anatomy and ancient times.

The Greeks thought the heart was the portal to spiritual divinity and represented the interconnectedness of the world. Before we knew its purpose, we considered the heart to be the core of our emotions. It held intuition and intention. But then Aristotle came along and said, ‘The heart is a pump.’ Plato said, ‘The heart makes blood.’ Another guy said, ‘The heart filters the blood.’ Bit by bit, we reduced its purpose to being purely functional.

Do you feel like it’s important for artists to have a message?

My career is not only about music, it’s about politics. I find myself having to answer questions about so much more than music. So, therefore I have to read. I’m a known person to some, and they value my voice… often more than the experts on the matter. So for artists who have a message, it’s very important to read all the time and make sure that whatever opinion you provide is nuanced, and good and wise.

Words matter, especially our words when so many people are looking for you for guidance and listening. I’ve seen many artists misuse this responsibility and I try my best to do the opposite. 

Your songs have been featured everywhere, from Girls on HBO to Assassin’s Creed. You’ve sang on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and even at the Nobel Peace Prize in 2015. 

Do you remember the first song you wrote? 

I wrote songs about the world and society. From very early on I felt that music should reflect the world politically. I’ve always felt that was the true purpose of music. I wrote my first lyrics at nine. I could speak English quite well but the only songs I knew were Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan and those needed to be played on guitar. So then I started writing on guitar in my room, in secret. At first, music was only for me.

Yes. Before singing, I read that you discovered an electric piano in your parents attic?

I’m the “kinda gal” that plays a bit of everything, not all well, and not by the rules. 

I wrote piano pieces at age 6, and now it will sound like I was a classical prodigy, but I was not. What happened was that the moment I discovered the piano’s frequencies, the piano was perfect for me. I thought it was the best thing I’d ever heard. Especially after you press the note, and it lingers after —not the note itself but the lingering. I’d never heard anything like it. I could sit there for hours hyper-focusing on that space. 

What did your piano pieces sound like?

I heard a lot of classical music as a child, and I remember thinking, “Ugh, they’re all so noisy and full. There’s no lingering.” Maybe in some Chopin or Debussy, but not enough. So, I rewrote a lot of classical pieces I learnt by ear. I rewrote a lot of them to be slower…actually, I should release that as an album because I made a lot of very beautiful pieces!

What was the first song that you wrote for this album?

There is a lot of me in this album; it’s very human. The songs are about organs, teeth, skin, blood, and human things that are complex because humans are.

I “died” two years ago. I had to part ways with my former self, and leave her behind. That began my whole personal process of ‘What Happened To The Heart?’. ‘Echo of My Shadows’ was the first song I wrote. It’s the beginning of my journey from weakness to strength, self-destruction to self-healing. 

In 2022 played a sold-out UK headline tour of ‘The Gods We Can Touch’ That album sold one million album copies and 2.6 billion streams, you wrote a book to go with it and opened for Adele. Most people would have thought you were at your peak.

I was very empty and very sad. I was promoting the album as I was “dying” and it felt very heavy.

There was a feeling of urgency that I needed to confront this death, this state, or I’ll stay here forever. I had work to do in order to be reborn, and I knew I could do it. I was grieving the old me and finding peace, letting her go and discovering the new me. Once I realised that I died, I had to write myself back to life again.

Soon, all these beautiful songs started to blossom from my rage. 

In order to get thicker skin and find inspiration for this album you threw yourself into chaos and some very unique methods, from ice swimming to rage rooms…

It was very cathartic. In rage rooms you punch things, smash things and scream into things. You can do things that the world doesn’t really allow you to do. It’s absolutely uplifting. Fun. ‘Blade’ was born from that.

For me, performing is like a rage room. Towards the end of the show, all the songs where I scream and dance are fantastic.

You were also a dancer right?

I was and I am! The minute there’s music I’m dancing. Dancing does something to your body that is so important for the vegus nerve that lies in our spine.

I dance a lot in the studio while I write. I dance a lot when I perform and on the video for ‘Starvation’ which I just released and also edited myself. 

You also got very, very drunk.

I was drinking so much. Especially the disco song ‘Do You Feel.’

Others I was definitely tipsy, some of the lyrics are painful for me, so it helped a bit to less vulnerable singing those with someone in the studio. So yeah, I’ve been drinking a lot and dancing a lot in the studio before I go to the studio, which I have never done before!

’Dark Dresses Lightly’ – the best song on the album – finds you taking your old self out for a drink and a debaucherous night where the clinking of glasses builds to a climax where you are both writhing in ecstasy and have an orgasm at the end of the song.

On ‘Dark Dresses Lightly’ I was drinking a lot, it’s my favourite. I love people who understand it, because I know so many people who will not. It’s very beautiful, the wine flows over towards the end of the song, I get flooded and, I think I have an orgasm, yes! I was very free and drunk when I did that. 

I love the idea of a hedonsitic night out with yourself. Where you treat yourself like a guest of honor and appreciation. You both sit down, look each other in the face with a drink and say “We’re being strong now; cheers to me and you. We got this far, we can do it.” A bar, for me, would be the perfect recommendation for fans to hear my album. 

Chemical Brothers were an early inspiration for you , is it wild to be working with your childhood heroes now?

You are getting my first thoughts about how full circle ‘Where did the Heart Go?” actually is. I’m realising this more and more as we speak, which is good because you deserve to hear it first. 

I’m suddenly seeing all these Young Me influences. I didn’t even know it before, but I see it now. Little me would be blown away by these full circles.

This album is like an ode to her; Little Me and New Me. Grief is a celebration. And with this album it’s like all the artists and musicians who I love and have influenced my career came to the funeral 

Tom [Rowlands], melts my heart. I discovered the Chemical Brothers when I was 13, and we have collaborated a lot. Bring Me the Horizon and Oli Sykes, I loved them when I was 13. Ane Brun who feature on ‘My Name’ is a friend of mine, when I was really young. 

Do you have dream collaborations now? 

I really want to do more heavy metal music. I really want to work with French metal band Gojira. I like Nia Archives, I want her to do something with me. I think we could do something really beautiful. 

Some people say home is where the heart is. Where is that for you?

I have a lot of homes. Some are lovers, people who make me feel at home. Some have no names, they’re in the wilderness. Then there’s my home, I just moved into my own place and I have a pigeon problem. When I think of my parents having a glass of wine, watching the ocean and listening to music, that’s home. When my sisters laugh – that is the most home I will ever have the honour of feeling. 

To list all of your artistic accolades is a gargantuan task.  What has been your biggest “Ah-ha” moment along the way. 

When I performed with a full symphony and 30-man choir in the old cathedral in Norway and we filmed it. I’m an artist who somebody knows a bit and somebody knows a lot. That night, both types of fans were there. 

People sat so quietly and listened and that really blew my mind.

To know that it exists in the modern world for a young artist like me, you don’t have to be Joni Mitchell, a legend to have that happen – it was a defining moment. It was really beautiful. 

My falling in love with music was the lingering between the notes and that night I realised that you can linger as much as you want and people understand that the silence is just as meaningful as the noise.

What Happened To The Heart’ is out now


  1. You are a very talented woman with a hypnotic voice and an earthly soul. Thank you for your music.

  2. I love Aurora and have been buying and enjoying all her releases for a decade now – but bless her young heart. She’s a very idealistic and naïve person. She seems to have been afflicted by leftism which retards her outlook of the real world.

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