Sounds Like: Norse folk ballads served on the rocks. Tales — some real and some imaginary — over a variety of synth claps, trills and other electronic curios
For Fans of: Of Monsters and Men, Lorde, Sia (not because of the hair, we swear!)
Why You Should Pay Attention: Like many budding pop stars, 19-year-old Aurora Aksnes was first discovered online after posting her original songs on Soundcloud and Youtube. She's since been signed to Glassnote in the States and Decca in the UK, who released her EP, Running With the Wolves, last May, highlighted by the viral lullaby, "Runaway." She's gone on to sell out shows in London, and scored the opening slot for Icelandic pop titans Of Monsters and Men in Brixton last November. She was later scouted by a representative of John Lewis, the UK equivalent to Macy's, who handpicked her to be the voice of its 2015 Christmas advertisement (she covered Oasis' "Half the World Away"). Across the pond she won over Katy Perry, who visited Aurora backstage after her show in Los Angeles. "I didn't know much about her until we met," says Aksnes. "She wasn't wearing her usual dresses or makeup, she was very lovely and down-to-earth. It must be strange being that famous. It's kind of unnatural for humans to have that much attention, but if you can manage it like she does, it's fine." Her debut album, All My Demons Greeting Me as a Friend, is due in March
She Says: When listening to her compositions, it's easy to imagine the quaint, Scandinavian locale where she writes and records them, at home in Bergen, Norway. "I live by the sea. We use a lot of field recordings and samples from the ocean and from rainy days." she says. Delicate, folky lead single "Murder (5, 4, 3, 2, 1)" is a particularly grim introduction to her album, in which she sings from the perspective of a murder victim who embraces her murderer. "Lots of songs aren't even from my experiences, but they're about accepting … the dark things about yourself," says Aksnes. "You simply have to accept that your demons are a part of you. You have to accept them as your friends. You disagree with your friends. You get mad at [them], you still love [them], you make them cry and they make you cry too." In that dark vein, Aksnes also divulges a not-so-guilty pleasure: heavy metal. "Everybody's got that split between the beautiful and fragile, the hard and the dark," she says. "Gojira is my favorite band of all time, they're lovely, I've seen them live two times. I also love Mastodon and the Refused as well." Would she ever write a metal song herself? "I could. ... If I happened to feel really angry. Actually, yeah, I would!"
Hear For Yourself: The second single off her upcoming album, "Conqueror" is an upbeat song for the modern Viking girl who bemoans the timidness of her love prospects. It's also featured on the official soundtrack for FIFA '16. Suzy Exposito