Everyteenager seems to cherish a dream of being a pop star, but very few get to make inroads to achieve it. But not every teenager is Au/Ra, the 15-year-old pop newcomer from Antigua currently signed to Sony. She’s been honing her brand of dreamy electronic pop from a young age, taking guidance from her father’s background in the trance and techno scenes, the influence of which can be felt in her debut single ‘Concrete Jungle’. Though raised in Antigua, Au/Ra lived as a young child in Ibiza, where she grew up speaking Catalan and German as well as English. We caught up with her to talk inspirations, songwriting, and being a young person in such a big industry.
How would you describe your music to someone who’s never heard it before?
I’d probably say it’s alternative pop with some electronic influences. And hopefully in the future I’ll bring in some other influences… But yeah, probably that’s what I’d say.
You’ve had a very multinational and multilingual upbringing – has this influenced your work? If so, how?
For sure. I think the experience of growing up around such diversity in culture and languages has given me a different perspective I like to bring across with my songs.
I learned how to speak English when I was five, and before that I spoke two different languages. My favourite songs growing up were basically all in English though – and when i’d tried to sing them prior to learning the language, it sounded like weird gibberish [Laughs]. So to finally be able to understand the lyrics and sing them was amazing for me. After that I’ve always loved English literature and creative writing, and I guess that fascination I had when I was a kid intertwined with my love for music.
What inspires you to write music?
Creative writing in general is a major outlet for me, and creating characters and putting them into situations I’ve created in a song is even better. So, inspiration can come from anything – an intriguing word to a TV show or a manga chapter. I don’t find it necessary to always write about things I’ve experienced – I sometimes get inspired by how someone else feels and try and channel that. I also love taking different situations and creating metaphors for them, almost in a riddle-like way, while also seeing the song as a story.
What’s your songwriting process like?
That depends on how I’m writing. If I’m in the studio with my team, we’ll usually start with an interesting sound or beat and I’ll find a word or concept I think would be cool to talk about and we all pitch in and develop it in different ways from then on. If I’m by myself, it happens in the most random ways. Most of the time it’s at home while I’m cleaning or something like that. Once I have an idea slightly figured out, I’ll try and sing it acapella and imagine the chords. I’ve also written songs on my bathroom floor many times – mainly because the acoustics in there are always the best.
You’re very young to be having such a great music career – is it difficult to hold your own as such a young person in the music industry?
Oh yeah, for sure! Yeah, I mean, I started writing and working at studios when I was about twelve or thirteen, and it was definitely difficult for people to take [me] seriously which I understand. It was a very young age to go into a room and [try to] get people to respect you – especially, also, as a female it’s hard in general. Yeah – hard in general too! But yeah, being young and a girl combine to [be difficult] but I’m lucky to have great people around me that all take me very seriously, so.
Yeah, that’s really good! So, if you could collaborate musically with anyone, who would it be?
Um… Probably The Neighbourhood.
I’d love to hear that, I think that would be great! What are you most excited about doing in the next year?
Next year I am most excited about… performing. I’m very committed to performing the songs – I haven’t really gotten the chance to, so yeah, to perform more, and to get everything out there.
Yeah – have you had any opportunity to perform anywhere so far or not really?
I did my first performance ever – like proper one – at a festival in March of this year, and that went pretty well! I’d come down with bronchitis like right before it and I was literally just getting over it at that time so it almost didn’t happen, but it did and I’m very happy it did, so… And yeah, that was my first performance and since then I haven’t really done much officially.
What advice would you give to other artists your age trying to get started?
Keep on pushing! Yeah – put your all into it. I mean, you have to prepare to sacrifice a lot if you want to do it as a full-time thing.
Watch the official video for Au/Ra’s new single ‘Outsiders’ below:
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