Rising artist Dan Aura is making waves in the world of pop and people are starting to really take notice. Having grown up in a small rural village in England before trading up for the larger and more diverse Brighton, 21-year-old Aura is finally beginning to spread his musical wings with a few buzzy singles and brand new EP, Plastic, out everywhere.
Musically similar to the fluid gloss-pop of Troye Sivan, Conan Gray or even Harry Styles, Aura incorporates his own queer identity and experiences into sentimental songwriting. Full of bright, '80s-inflected synths and catchy hooks, Aura's EP explores everything from stereotypes to relationships, authenticity and the LGBTQ+ community. "I don't really care 'bout what these straight boys think," he sings on Plastic opener, "Straight Boys," before declaring, "I'm glittered in pink."
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"Writing songs has never been the easiest thing for me," Aura tells PAPER. "I’m not one of those people that it just came naturally to them when they were 15. It definitely took a while, which is why this project is so important to me. I got to talk about things I’ve always wanted to talk about and some things that I think a lot of queer artists are maybe hesitant to talk about. The process of writing these songs was reasonably easy, as everything just flowed straight from my heart on to the paper and I think that speaks for itself."
Aura goes on to add, "As someone that’s part of the queer community, I feel a certain responsibility to write about certain things, and to not blur any aspects of my life out for fear of being judged or stereotyped. In my eyes, we’ve come too far for queer artists to not scream and shout in their songs about how proud they are to be living their lives as their true selves, so that’s something I will always do."
In celebration of his new EP, Dan Aura breaks down Plastic, track by track, below.
"Straight Boys" is my physical embodiment of closure for a lot of things that happened as a teenager in school, and it was extremely cathartic to write. For me, personally, it’s aimed at a specific group of people that really made my life hell, but the song is really for anyone who’s ever felt ostracized for being their true, authentic self. It’s about taking all the stereotypes used against LGBTQ+ people, and sort of saying, "So what?" I wanted to create a song that I would have loved growing up as a queer kid and I think I’ve done a hell of a good job. It still makes me tear up sometimes when I think about how much I’ve changed over the past 10 years and what I went through to get to where I am today as an openly queer artist.
"I wanted to create a song that I would have loved growing up as a queer kid."
This one was so much fun to create in the studio, as it utilizes a lot of effects that I’d never explored in music before. It’s about a feeling that I’ve had a few times before, where you get into a relationship too quickly because of those butterflies and infatuation, without actually looking at how you really feel. Wishing you felt the same feelings for someone that they feel for you can be quite painful and I wanted to encapsulate that. A lot of people actually ask me whether it’s me singing in the verses or someone else with a deeper voice, so I’m here to clarify: it is in fact me, just pitched down using vocal effects.
"Wishing you felt the same feelings for someone that they feel for you can be quite painful and I wanted to encapsulate that."
"Plastic" is the title track of the EP and it explores a few themes that were playing on my mind during the time when we wrote the project. Growing up in the internet age has been very interesting for me, as we’ve been presented with role models and standards set by the media, which has ended up damaging a lot of young people. In this song, I talk about not wanting to be a plastic carbon copy of what we're presented with and how authenticity should be of paramount importance to everyone. We should all be questioning the suitability of today’s role models, as a lot of them have collectively damaged an entire generation with constant photoshop, extreme political views and body standards. The problem is that it’s very difficult to know what is real and what is fabricated on the internet. We should consider why there’s this standard in the first place and what we can do as a community to rid of it.
"We should all be questioning the suitability of today’s role models."
"Not Fair" is about my very unstable relationship with someone a few years ago, who just didn’t have me anywhere near the top of his list. It probably didn’t help that I fell in love with him in the process of our friendship either. It’s about the struggle of putting all your energy into a relationship or friendship with someone and getting nothing in return, which I’m sure a lot of people will relate to. It’s absolutely exhausting when you’re always the one to make plans or message them first, and sometimes you just need to take a step back and re-evaluate the situation. If the effort is not equal between the two of you, they shouldn’t be worth your time.
"If the effort is not equal between the two of you, they shouldn’t be worth your time."
Photo courtesy of Dan Aura