Lower Hutt’s Albert Mikołaj has been creating intricate lo-fi masterpieces of well-written shimmering folk under the name Aura for the last few years, consistent radio airplay or general media coverage so far eluding him. His Bandcamp shows a back catalogue of two EPs and one album since 2013, with another due to be released internationally via US label Cosmic Dreamer in the next few months. After receiving NZ On Air funding last November, Aura is featured on NZ On Air’s NewTracks compilation for the month of April with his single GI Wonder, for which he has evidently moved into a more polished and poppy realm, maybe thanks to the collaboration with one Ben Lemi (Trinity Roots, French For Rabbits, Dawn Diver).
My mother is an amazing singer and piano player. I grew up with her singing Bobby McGee, Janis Joplin style, every New Years. The folks had two LPs I played on repeat as a child. They were, ‘Chalkmark In A Rainstorm‘ by Joni Mitchell and Tracy Chapman’s first record. I learned piano and guitar – I’ve always been in love with music.
I actually released my first record at 16 called ‘The Letter Red’. There is a song on there about my grandmother. Aura was always recessed. I was always mining it into existence one way or another.
The band now is myself (gat and vox), Ben Lemi (gat and vox), Holly Beals (ex-Family Cactus, bass and vox) and Samuel Austin (Vera Ellen, drums and vox).
That’s a mystery. I love how no-one believes in the aura, how it’s almost a joke. I’ve always loved how dismissive people are of seeing something beyond what’s generally accepted.
I feel it has a healthy amount of drama to it. It’s funny, fun and ultimately a little dark.
The tune was written to cheer me up actually, the lyrics speak to some of the heart’s vicissitudes. I wrote the song, it was produced by Ben Lemi. We recorded this track at Ben’s place. I remember I kept telling him, “Let’s make it darker, make it darker,” haha. We actually found this track the most phonically and aesthetically challenging. In the end, though, I was happy with it.
I love the line, “Doin just a little, Eliza”…because I still can’t believe I played that dive… and somehow made it work!
Honestly, I don’t know. Sometimes it’s just a feeling. Trust.
My amigo Kiro Laslas has released a new record, which I feature on a bit. I will eventually be working with my sister Vera Ellen on a project.
I didn’t get funding twice for my next single Immensely I… yet hehe. My advice would be something like, dust yourself off and try again.
The whole thing is a challenge really. In my case, I refused to get a Facebook or Instagram until late December 2017. It was a hard choice for me to make, but it’s helped me a lot since getting ‘on the line’ as they say.
We are premiering the official G.I Wonder video next week. It’s well worth the watch. Andy Byers (the director) has just finished a spell working with Isabella Rossellini and no kidding, she emailed us this morning to say she loved the video #humblebrag 🙂 The video also features animation by some amazing animators in Buenos Aires.
Andy’s direction is very Wes Anderson in spirit, very beautifully shot. Do keep a close eye out.