Au/Ra makes her childhood sound like a tropical paradise – and that’s partly because it pretty much was. The 19-year-old pop tearaway grew up on the island of Antigua, borrowing her grandmother’s laptop to stream international hits on YouTube. “I grew up thinking it was extremely normal,” she laughs, “because it was my life, but now whenever I tell people any of this they look at me in disbelief because it’s so crazy and random!”
But freethinking sits at the heart of her vision. An outspoken pop siren speaking her truth, Au/Ra started her career on that same island, posting videos online and building her own fanbase. “I didn’t need any help from anyone,” she says. “It’s such a cool thing - all these people from all over the world posting videos of themselves and taking matters into their own hands. I thought, why not?”
Since then, her life has gone truly global. Scoring bona fide hits while retaining fierce control over her identity, Au/Ra looks after every aspect of her creative vision. An anime devotee, she keeps a close watch on her music videos. “I definitely see all of my songs as stories,” she says. “They have their visuals already while I’m writing it. I’m such an animator. That would be my dream job, I think.”
A fastidious perfectionist, her one flaw is not being able to take a step back. Au/Ra agrees, pointing out: “I feel like I need to stop myself sometimes, and say: ‘Okay, we’re at the point where we need to say ‘This is it. Let’s stop.’”
Despite this, Au/Ra already has her next chapter planned, including her live performances. “I am usually the fan girl,” she admits, “so I appreciate my fans so much. You’re in the moment, you’re right there, you’re singing with them. That’s the most amazing part. People know your lyrics. I value it a lot.”
An icon-in-waiting with the world at her feet, Au/Ra is still just a young girl from a tiny island. Humble to a fault, she tells Clash: “I don’t think there’s too much pressure right now. I’m just going with the flow. I mean, who knows where it will lead, right?”
What: Blistering alt-pop with an electronic streak
Get 3 Songs: ‘Panic Room’, ‘Medicine’, ‘Dance In The Dark’
Fact: Au/Ra's favourite animator is Studio Ghibli founder Hayao Miyazaki.
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BTS Next Wave Issue 113 with Tommy Jeans
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Words: Robin Murray
Photography: Sophie Mayanne
Fashion: Zarina Shukri
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