Subscription 790/year or 190/quarter

Indie pop sensation AURORA's creation

Once upon a time Aurora
MUSIC INDUSTRY / Once upon a time, Aurora paints a picture of an industry that is set to use artist AURORA as a tool to promote her own ambitions instead of stimulating her own creative independence.


It took some time for the Metoo movement to take root in the music industry, despite the wave of high-profile allegations of sexual harassment in the film industry. Thanks to social media scandals related to artists such as R Kelly and Ryan Adams, the spotlight is now also directed at systematic abuse of power in the music industry, where it has proven to be very successful in an everyday life of fame, professional services and admiring fans.

Once upon a time Aurora, directed by Benjamin Langeland and Stian Servoss, follows the Norwegian indie pop sensation AURORA as she prepares for her second studio album, Infections Of A Different Kind – Step 1 (2018). It may seem like any music documentary, but in addition to gaining an insight into Aurora's creative creation process, we are witnessing how power distribution and abuse of power play out in the background. Still, the documentary is perceived as quite mild (originally aired on television) and is thus no obvious account of abuse.

One can, however, perceive a subtle female discrimination, and together with the constant demand for more money-generating hits from this young star who is barely out of puberty, we see how vulnerable young female musicians are to the manipulation of an industry characterized by capitalist exploitation .

No tragic sensational film

Aurora Aksnes (born 1996) is from a small town in Norway, and was only sixteen years old when she reached the spotlight after singing a song she wrote in high school that was supposed to go viral online. A management team, with Geir Luedy from Made Management in the lead, gathered around her with the ambition to transform her into a salable artist. She quit school, released her debut album All My Demons Greet Me as a Friend (2016) and spent the next years touring.

This relatively subdued film portrait presents no tragic sensations to set us in any kind of perverse seduction. But it shows how the much older men around Aurora, in charge of managing her career, contribute to her onslaught of emotional isolation and the sense of creative impotence.

Once upon a time Aurora Directors Benjamin Langeland and Stian Servoss

“I've never had many friends; this is the first time I've experienced myself as part of a gang, ”she says early in the tour. In doing so, she immediately triggers our alarm bells, given the age and gender differences between her and those she depends on as a company when traveling.

This becomes especially clear when she realizes that she is not sure if she wants to be an artist at all. Management's assurances that the tour is very demanding and that they "don't think she can live without it" appear to be a rather deceptive form of peptalk. As the film moves forward, we occasionally see how Aurora is played by her performances and her own creation process, but also when she panics when the fans get too intrusive.

Genuine vulnerability

Daily rounds of meet-and-greet events in Brazil and intensely emotional fans wear her out and make her dependent on her producer, Magnus Skylstad. A studio session shows an unpleasant exchange of opinion between her and Luedy (his rivalry with Skylstad is to the touch) when he demands that they complete sixteen songs, while the only thing Aurora wants is to enjoy her algal ball.

Annoyed at being pressed to include the track "Conqueror" on the previous album – a song with a commercial feel she doesn't like – she now refuses to perform it live. Individually, these events are not particularly dramatic, but together they draw a picture of a male industry that intends to use Aurora as a tool to promote her own ambitions rather than stimulate her creative independence.

We see how vulnerable young female musicians are to the manipulation of an industry characterized by capitalist exploitation.

Going from being a teenager to becoming an adult while still resembling a young, vulnerable elf – the very image of an outsider's vulnerability that her image is based on – undermines Aurora's ability to intervene and her efforts to get creative control.

Her dealings with the fans also make her ambivalent and watchful of people – the experience of instant intimacy (being allowed to swim around in people's hearts, as she puts it) – disappears as suddenly as the moments come.

However, it is important to note that the image of feminist evolution and female self-development within the strict self-centered patriarchal demands may be another construct that cynically fits into Aurora's image (similar to Lady Gaga's embrace of inequality, which can also be read as brand building , not just as a genuine desire for inclusion). But despite this, the vulnerability we feel with this young starlet is obviously genuine. When she declares that she has stopped distinguishing between Aurora (man) and AURORA (artist), the somewhat forced design of her as an artist and the chaotic life of the limelight appears very credible.

The movie is shown below Oslo Pix 3-9.juni

Carmen Gray
Carmen Gray
Gray is a regular film critic in Ny Tid.

You may also like