Decca co-presidents salute 'magic artist' Aurora ahead of Friday night Glastonbury performance

Decca co-presidents salute 'magic artist' Aurora ahead of Friday night Glastonbury performance

Decca co-presidents Laura Monks and Tom Lewis have revealed all to Music Week about Aurora's latest album campaign and upcoming Glastonbury performance, which precedes her biggest tour yet.

The Norwegian singer-songwriter reached the UK Top 10 earlier this month with her fifth LP What Happened To The Heart? (7,023 sales, OCC) peaking at No.8.

The 28-year-old's relationship with Decca stretches all the way back to her 2016 debut, All My Demons Greeting Me As A Friend, which remains her best seller with 73,383 sales to date according to the Official Charts Company. Her catalogue also includes 2018's Infections Of A Different Kind (Step 1), which has sales of 11,886, 2019's A Different Kind Of Human (Step 2), which has moved 20,643 units and 2022's The Gods We Can Touch (24,220 sales).

"Aurora is a magic artist, and we always feel positive when we're working with her," said Monks. "We've been part of her very magical world for nearly a decade now and what's beautiful is that we can still feel the momentum growing - and that's never stopped. I think it's a testament to our long term artist building that we focus on at Decca."

Aurora has included The Earth as a collaborator in the credits of each track of her new album, aiming royalties and donations collected by Brian Eno's EarthPercent charity to be directed to biodiversity conservation and restoration projects, in the continuity of her engagement with the nature-inspired Sounds Right initiative.

"Aurora has always had environmental issues at the heart of what she's passionate about," said Monks. "She has very meaningful values in her personal life and in how she works."

We've always talked about Aurora as an extremely international artist and she retains that to this day

Laura Monks

"If you go right back to the very first music video we shot with her for Runaway, it was shot near her home and the views are absolutely spectacular," added Lewis. "You can understand why nature is so important to her because she's grown up surrounded by the most extraordinary geography and nature, so it's indelibly part of her."

To mark the release of What Happened To The Heart?, Decca partnered with livestreaming company Groovy Gecko to host an online album release party, allowing 14 international fan groups - part of Aurora's self-styled Warriors & Weirdos community - to join simultaneously. The party attracted over 4,500 live viewers across eight time zones.

Represented by agent Olly Ward of UTA, Aurora has also landed a plum 7.30pm slot on the Park Stage at Glastonbury this Friday and has already sold 129,000 tickets for her 2024/25 What Happened To The Earth? Tour. The tour will see her perform in 37 cities, including a sold out show at London's Royal Albert Hall this October and her first headline date at OVO Arena Wembley on May 3, 2025.

In France, she sold out Paris' L’Olympia in 10 minutes, leading her to add a night in Le Zénith, while in Brazil she will play 16,000-cap venues as well 25,000-cap in Mexico. She also sold 14,000 copies of her debut book (originally planned for a run of 1,000).

To talk through all that and more, Music Week sits down for a Q&A with Monks and Lewis...

What have been the key pillars of the What Happened To The Heart? campaign?

Tom Lewis: "The visuals have been incredibly strong and once again, that's driven by Aurora. Each album so far has come with a fully conceived visual identity that very definitely comes from her. For each album, she has a sketchbook that creates this world of all the inspirations, influences and thoughts packaged into the record. Last time around, she shared that book with people. It actually became an incredibly successful book for us and we're doing that again. Since we started, she's only been growing and that growth is showing no signs of slowing. We don't think she's anywhere near reaching her global potential yet."

Laura Monks: "We still have several tracks to focus on and the live and recorded side working neatly together has been one of the strengths of the campaign." 

TM: "And also [managers] Geir [Lueda] and Jamila [Scott] and the Made team as well - she's kept her team very consistent throughout."

How do you intend to maximise the platform offered by her Glastonbury set?

TL: "Well, it's her third Glastonbury. She played first in 2016 and this will be her biggest moment. It's the sunset slot on the Park Stage on the Friday night and it's televised, which is fantastic. It is a real opportunity for her to not only demonstrate what sort of draw she is, but also capture a lot of new fans as well, and I think it's going to be an absolutely sensational set."

LM: "We've always talked about Aurora as an extremely international artist and she retains that to this day. We put a tour on sale in Chile and it sold out in half an hour. But one thing we've noticed with this campaign is that her status as a serious artist in the UK has been solidified. She had queues outside her in-store at Pryzm that went on for miles and has fans who turn up at 5am.

"My hope is that at Glastonbury, everyone will finally see that big crowd of people knowing the lyrics and singing along. Her songs are so powerful that it'll be a brilliant, emotional moment. At her first Glastonbury, she literally sang on the little bandstand and had about 100 people around her and by the end of her little five-song set, everyone was up and dancing. So it's going to be an epic moment to see her to go from that to doing it on the Park Stage."

After festival season she'll be embarking on the biggest headline tour of her career. How will her live show translate to those larger venues?

LM: "The great thing about Aurora is that she can go from her beautiful, innocent voice and simple instrumentation on small tracks, through to massive ballads. On this record, she has a fan favourite track called Starvation, where she even goes into a 4am full on rave. She looks like a beautiful fairy princess, but she has this power in her to make things go really big and it's special to watch that transition. Not many artists can do the very small and the very big."

TL: "The other part of her appeal is her extraordinary honesty. People connect with the honesty in her lyrics, but also on stage. The song will finish and then she'll start talking and you're thinking, 'Oh my god, she's just told us something very personal,' and then she'll go into the next song. She's incredibly funny and disarming. We've seen a sneak preview of the visuals that they're planning for the tour and they're extraordinary. She's an amazing dancer as well - she actually trained for a long time as a dancer. She's a diminutive figure, but her presence on stage is huge and that's what makes it so exciting."

LM: "She's on a big stage and yet she talks about things that make you think she's talking just to you."  

What's she like to work with?

TL: "She's a total pleasure and everybody at the label adores her. She's very down to earth; she'll turn up at the office without any fanfare and come and hang out with us. She has endeared herself to every single department within the company, both within the UK but also around the world. Recently, we did this fan listening event for the launch of the record in 14 territories."

LM: "It was like Eurovision!"

TL: "The most moving thing about it, which we found very powerful, was that there were some fans who had to go to extraordinary lengths to join. The Syrian fan group, for instance, had to organise their wi-fi and power to make sure that they could join at the right time. I don't think there are many artists who would have Syrian, Turkish, Taiwanese, Filipino, Brazilian and Dutch fan groups all join at the same time to watch. And at the end of it, Aurora surprised the London fan groups. She joined it and then they all went off for a pint together. That's a show of her completely down to earth, very approachable, deeply human personality."

How did you organise that livestream event?

LM: "We've worked with Groovy Gecko before on several artist campaigns, they're a brilliant team. We were in a planning meeting about two weeks before the launch, and we talked about her fanbase and how international they are. And I said, 'How do we visualise this? How do we let the fanbase connect with one another to enjoy the moment?' And Groovy Gecko came up with the goods to help us connect the dots and get those 14 livestreams all into one on YouTube." 

Aurora's monthly Spotify numbers have now reached 13.5 million, what have been the keys to building that global community?

TL: "I genuinely believe that it started one fan at a time. It's been a long build and there is a deeply personal association with her and what she stands for. There's been a lot of stuff recently about lyrics potentially becoming more self obsessed. But actually, I would argue that Aurora's lyrics are quite the opposite. They're for everybody. She asks big questions and tries to speak on behalf of all of us, and that's what people gravitate towards. She's an extraordinary poet.

"I also think the relationship she has with her fans is one of her unique superpowers. It's not a passing relationship at all; it's very deep and they feel invested in her success and what she stands for, because it reflects what they stand for. It's a very tightly interwoven relationship. They're self-named Warriors & Weirdos and it embodies the values that she is this sort of warrior princess, but is also happy to be an outsider. And that resonates with people."

The song Runaway is her most popular track on that platform with 890m streams and counting. How crucial has it been as a lift-off point?

TL: "It was an incredible accelerator. Don't forget that song had been released for five or six years before it had its moment in the limelight. That was very definitely about lyrics that resonated with people, particularly that line, 'I was runnin' far away/Would I run off the world someday?' When it went viral, it was a very important moment."

LM: "That song has been a central thread throughout the campaigns over the years and people have always come back to it. But we were discussing Aurora in a meeting the other day and we said she's one of the most international artists we can think of, because you think of fans in China, they predominantly discovered Aurora around Cure For Me [2022]. You think of fans in mainland Europe, maybe it was Runaway [2015]. You think of fans in Brazil, and they came on board even earlier than that, so she means something different to every fan in every market. I think that's also what's going to give her longevity, because she is so meaningful across her whole catalogue, but we take those moments when we can, when we get them, and she totally leans in and loves it.  They're her babies, but she's not a one trick pony."

Where did those moments occur?

LM: "She's always been a visual artist, so it depends in any one year, over the last 10 years, which platform's been the platform of choice for young fans. We had big moments on YouTube early on, we've had viral moments on TikTok. She has a very core fanbase who follow her on Instagram and she has a gaming community that love her on Discord. So we always use whichever platform's available to us at the time to its maximum, and her fans come with her."

TL: "In fact, it was very early discovery on Reddit that we think got her into the orbit. And then Katy Perry discovered her and then at some point Billie Eilish discovered her. That Runaway video was incredibly important to Billie Eilish." 

LM: "Billie talked about it on Radio 1 a few weeks ago when her album came out. She referenced Aurora again as one of her first inspirations, which was a lovely thing."

To finish, where does the What Happened To The Heart? campaign go from here?

TL: "What's so interesting about this record is that we feel like we've got a long way ahead of us in terms of people discovering it and adopting it in the same way they've adopted all of her other records so far. She is embarking on a global tour and has got something like 250,000 tickets on sale in all parts of the world. 

"People often say, 'What was the moment with Aurora?' And actually, the story with Aurora is a succession of moments. It's a rock solid foundation that has built up. Something happens in Germany and then it'll happen in Brazil, and then it'll happen in China, and then it'll happen in the Philippines, and then it'll happen in the UK, and it just never stops. New audiences discover her and that builds to a collective whole - and that's been very powerful."

LM: "It's crazy how she can be such a digitally successful artist and yet also be so connected to nature and people. She's very much in the real world. I think that's what makes her so magnetic - those opposites in every sense of what she does. 

"As Tom said, there's another book to come; we've got the Royal Albert Hall and Wembley; she's been doing jewellery with a Hatton Garden jeweller and there are further music videos that we'll be creating. So the busyness doesn't stop, the magic carries on." 

PHOTO: Wanda Martin

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