AURORA (9:30 PM)

Tor Miller (8:30 PM)

Tue, April 5, 2016

8:00 pm

$15.00 Tix Only/ $20.99 Tix + Digi Download

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Pre-order AURORA's debut album All My Demons Greeting Me As A Friend (out March 11th) with your ticket and get the album for only $5.99!

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AURORA - (Set time: 9:30 PM)
After hearing her lithe, fairytale-reminiscent songs, perhaps it wouldn’t surprise you to learn that AURORA (born Aurora Aksnes) hails from a Norwegian city with a name translates to “Fjord of Lights.” Or that when she was six, the future singer/songwriter was disciplined for convincing classmates that their school was overrun with talking mice. Or even that her first brush with making music was discovering a toy piano, and she managed to keep her hobby a secret from her parents until well into her teen years.
Now nineteen and on the cusp of releasing her debut full-length, All My Demons Greeting Me as a Friend, AURORA’s fantasies have only grown, inhabiting every corner of her music. A girl makes peace with her murderer and the inherit vulnerability of life in the haunting piano ballad “Murder Song (5,4,3,2,1).” A runaway fades away into the wonder of nature over the course of “Runaway,” her escape marked with harpsichord, live percussion, and an undeniable sense of wonder. And coupled with an anthemic swell of synths and AURORA’s triumphant vocal, “Running With the Wolves” makes tapping into one’s lupine side seem not only plausible but downright irresistible.
“When I was very young, younger than now, I could listen to songs by Cohen and Bob Dylan, not even knowing the English language yet, and still kind of understand what the song was about, and have a sense of emotion from the song without knowing the words,” AURORA reveals. “I always strive to be better and I always feel like everything I’m making can be better if I had more time. I’m very picky. But the most important thing is the emotion in the song, of course. So I hope that the emotions in my songs are clear enough that you don’t need to know what the words mean.”
Nowhere is that idea of overflowing visceral content more evident than her new single “Conqueror,” where, against a percussive wave, she sings of someone longing to be rescued from “Broken mornings/broken nights/broken days in between.” Written for fun one night in the studio with her bandmates (who she refers to as her “second family”) AURORA calls the anthem a personal reminder—in addition to being one of the most fun songs in her catalogue to perform live.
“I know that I’m very sensitive,” she admits. “In many ways I’m weak. But if you’re weak, you’re also very strong. Because you need to work a bit harder to survive as well…You have to find the conqueror in yourself at first, I think. That’s what I think about in the song. It’s just a person who hasn’t realized that yet. That person is still trying to find the conqueror in someone else. You have to find the conqueror in yourself to land on your own feet. You are the only one you need to survive. Then other people will make your life a good life as well. It’s important to be strong in yourself.”
However AURORA prefers to swap weakness and sorrow for happiness, punctuating even the heaviest of topics with laughs and thoughtful tangents. Even her album title, a metaphor for making peace with your past, hints at a chance for not only redemption, but also joy amidst the darkness.
“I don’t want to write sad songs only to make people sad,” she notes. “I’ll end up with lots of depressed fans.”
At that admission AURORA pauses, giggling as she admits she’s crying as she speaks, a byproduct of just reflecting on all the support she’s received so far.
“That’s not my goal at all,” she continues. “But I want to people to know that it’s not dangerous to cry or think of something sad for a while. It’s easier to think about it through a song, which can also be beautiful while being sad. It’s like taking medicine with a teaspoon of sugar. It’s important to have some hope.”
Tor Miller - (Set time: 8:30 PM)
Tor Miller
There are any number of singers who can turn in a pitch-perfect performance, who can hold a note, shape a phrase, and project their voices to the back of the hall. Talent shows across the globe are full of them, singing for their supper, hoping for that lucky break. And then there is that select type of vocalist who can take a song to the next level, burrow deep beneath its skin, and pin you to your seat as they do so. Anyone lucky enough to hear the demo version of Tor Miller’s song Headlights 18 months ago would have instantly added the name of the 20-year-old native New Yorker to the latter list. Who was this musician singing – in a sandpapered voice rich with vibrato and hoarse with emotion – as if his life depended on it, hurling himself off the precipice, wrestling the song to the floor, as the piano pounded and the melody, as it hit the final chorus, slipped its moorings and soared skywards? And how come, so few singers do this? Occupy a song, tear the lyric from their chest, sing with such passion and recklessness that they seem to be locked in mortal combat with the darkest corners of their heart and their soul.

As Tor tells it, it took a major upheaval in his life to kick-start his conviction and self-belief, and turn him from someone who would “sing around the house all the time” into an artist on a mission. When he was 12, his parents moved from Manhattan out to New Jersey and, six months later, Tor enrolled in a new school near his new home. It was those six months, and the two years that followed, that would shape him both as a singer and as a writer. Put simply, he channeled his grief for his old life, and his alienation from his new one, into music. But first, that six-month period when, Tor says, each weekday he and his mother would do “a 90-minute commute. She would drop me off and I’d sit for about half an hour, waiting for school to open, listening to the music she had given me – Ziggy Stardust, Elton John’s greatest hits, Fleetwood Mac – on my iPod. I listened to those records pretty much nonstop, up and back. And that was the point when I started writing my own songs.”

As is so often the case, a great teacher proved another catalyst. “I had this piano teacher at the new school who would just let me play what I wanted to, so I’d play him these songs and sing along really quietly, and one lesson he said: ‘You have a really good voice. Next week, instead of just working on the piano part, we’ll learn the vocal as well. And the week after, we can try writing something.’ So it really all just sort of happened that way, and it was all thanks to that one teacher.”

The music lessons aside, Tor’s new school was, for a long time, not a place he was happy to attend. “I was a complete outcast; I didn’t talk to anyone for about two years. But I was getting confident in lessons, and wrote my first couple of songs, so I decided to perform at the eighth-grade talent show – and remember, at that point, no one had really ever heard me even speak. I was so mad to have had to move schools and leave all my friends, so I didn’t participate in anything. But I got up there and performed a cover version, and a song I had just written, and immediately after, people suddenly wanted to talk to me, I got all this attention – especially from girls! And it propelled me to keep going, and I started booking shows, open-mic nights in places such as The Stone Pony in Asbury Park. I worked at that, and then I went to high school, and joined the jazz band there, and some of the guys in that joined my band, and we just carried on playing shows. But it all came from that one performance in eighth grade.”

The songs “began to pour out, most of them about isolation and loneliness,” Tor says with a wry laugh. “I felt that I’d been taken out of the city and away from a life I loved, and thrown out on a horse farm in New Jersey. I had no idea what to do with myself, I was really angsty. And here, suddenly, was something I liked – and I didn’t like anything at the time.”

The bug had bitten him and, when he took up a place studying music at NYU, Tor dove right in. “The moment when it felt properly real was in my first semester at college, when I was writing all these songs. I was a bit of a madman during that period. I’d stay up super late, I’d show up late to class, I was writing and working, working and writing, and there was nothing else I wanted to do. So I guess that’s the moment when it got serious for me, when it was real and I knew it was what I had to be doing. And I was absolutely miserable at the time! But it’s an incredibly intoxicating state to be in. I’ll never forget that time.”

Glassnote Records – home to artists such as Mumford & Sons, Phoenix, Childish Gambino and Chvrches – picked up on the excitement that was rapidly building around Tor, and last year, he signed to the label.

Glassnote did what so many labels no longer see the benefit in doing, they saw the potential and they allowed it to develop. Simple, huh? Simple but so often disregarded to make use of early buzz and ride it until that buzz falls flat. Tor had always foreseen his songs having an element of grandeur about them, but never had the means to turn that vision into a reality.

“I always imagine these lush, arranged songs that were big band sounding. When I was recording these insular solo songs, there were certain elements missing, but time has allowed me to make them sound how I wanted them to. I am so proud of the album.”

The record label didn’t just throw him in a studio with session musicians to find this bigger sound, aware that that will always lose a sense of life and magic, but they gave Tor and his songs the space to breathe and let him go about finding a band himself, touring it, re-shaping the songs, touring them again, and then heading into the studio to see if an album was ready.

The dynamic though had changed. Listen back to the latest incarnation of that unmastered debut record and it’s come along way from Tor’s first iPhone demos. There is very much a band feel to them, and what they have lost in intimacy they have gained in scale. “I understand that fronting a band brings with it much more energy. Sitting behind a piano gets a bit boring for me, and for the audience. The live show now has variety, like the record does. It has to have an ebb and flow to keep it interesting. It’s different but it’s hugely gratifying to hear what we’ve created over time.”

“It’s difficult to articulate what I wanted, but I feel like we’ve done a great job. To have these songs and the ideas that I couldn’t pull off alone down and off my chest is great.”

It’s an album that, as Tor suggests, has plenty of ebb and flow. There’s bold and grandiose (Surrender), there’s pop with a range of colour (Carter & Cash, Always), and there’s hushed and beautiful (Baby Blue). Schizophrenic? Not so much, Tor has managed to commit to that sense of vastness, but kept a sonic thread throughout that keeps it from being a mish-mash of ideas. It goes for the jugular, grapples with it, and ultimately wins.

Like many great albums do, the album closes on a beauty, and Tor’s current favourite called Stampede. “It’s the book-end. I wanted Stampede to end on a ‘what the hell happened there?!’ moment. It’s expansive. I wanted it to sound like Bruce Springsteen covering Purple Rain (which he recently did, weirdly enough). I can hear it on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury as the weekend closes. It’s a song I’m hugely proud of.”

Ambitious, then, but not misplaced. The ongoing glut of actually very good singer-songwriters will never become a fallow stable, but Tor has leap-frogged that pen and positioned himself comfortably on the outside, looking above and beyond its obvious limitations. His music has soul, and his performance has a range, depth and scale.

There’s a key moment in prior single “Midnight” when, with the backing vocals rising to a tumult behind him, Tor sings “Calling out, calling out for something true.” The most thrilling thing about Tor Miller – with the advantage of time – is that he might well have found it.
Venue Information:
9081 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, CA, 90069

All lineups and times subject to change