Dan Aura's Pop Packs a Punch

Dan Aura's Pop Packs a Punch

By Ivan GuzmanMay 20, 2024

Dan Aura’s currency is vulnerability. Since dropping his 2021 EP Plastic, the 23-year-old British singer has been on a journey of growth as an artist, and his method of choice is complete self-expression. “When I think about how I felt growing up, it does make me emotional,” he tells PAPER. “Because I’m now living a life filled with freedom, self-expression and all the things I never thought I could have when I was a teenager.”

His new EP, Where It Hurts, out today, is an embodiment of that newfound openness. On it, Aura maintains his signature sleek pop sonic elements and soaring tenor vocals while embedding them with lyrics that punch right in the feels. He sings about queer love, down bad situationships, and the catharsis that comes from breaking out of the shackles from growing up closeted in an ultra conservative environment. All the while, he does so while looking like a Disney prince, and given the music and full package, it’s easy to imagine a world where the rising star starts cementing his place within the pop pantheon.

Below, Aura breaks down the new EP track-by-track for PAPER.

Rewritten

I had to start the project off with one of my favorite tracks to date. For me, it’s the perfect mixture of up-tempo production and lyrics that make you think about your own life experiences. This track is especially important on the project as it was written and produced by all queer people, which just fills my heart full of joy, and makes me really proud that we made it happen. “Rewritten” flips the longing for closure and turns it into ‘what if,’ which I’m sure a few people can relate to. I think we all wonder what would have happened if certain things weren’t said, or certain events didn’t happen, and that should be normalized. It was such a fun experience creating the song from start to finish, and I think it marks the beginning of some more fun and high energy songs from me which is super exciting.

Rich Man

Sometimes it’s hard to focus on what really matters, and I’m definitely guilty of losing sight of what life really means to me, and what I should hold dearest to my heart. “Rich Man” perfectly encapsulates what it means to value love, experiences and the world around us over material possessions or other things that can distract us from what we really need at our core. This song was probably the one that took the longest to get right on the EP, but I’m so happy with how it turned out, and I got to work with some really talented people who I was living with at the time. I’d say it's reminiscent of a love song, and it reminds me of some really special people in my life who I don’t know where I’d be without.

“Rich Man” is for people that need to reconnect with what really matters to them, or anyone who needs to express how much love they have for the person/people around them.

Where It Hurts

The title track was definitely the easiest and most cathartic song to write for me; everything just seemed to flow so freely off the tongue onto the paper. I was fresh out of a situationship with a certain person, and I think we wrote this a few months after my life flipped upside down so there was no mental block, everything just came out exactly how it happened. It’s quite a personal song for me because I was so heartbroken when I wrote it, but it fills me with joy that I get to sing it now a year on in the best place I’ve been in a long time. It’s hard-hitting, both production-wise and lyrically, and definitely something you can scream at the top of your lungs. It starts off very small, with just vocals and acoustic guitar, and evolves into a beautiful soundscape with synths, big drums, and vocals that really hit you right in the chest. I think it perfectly represents the journey I went through with that certain person.

Hard To Be

I’ve never properly written about my experience growing up queer in a town full of conservatives, so this song really means a lot to me, and it's definitely the most sincere I’ve ever been on a song. It’s hard to put how I felt into words, so along with the lyrics in this song, there are a lot of vocal stacks and harmonies, which just elevate the emotion for me. I don’t think people talk about the queer experience enough (especially when you come out of the closet at 12 years old). It’s quite traumatizing and things happen that will affect you for years to come, so it’s super important to me that I finally got to talk about my trials and tribulations. When I think about how I felt growing up, it does make me emotional because I’m now living a life filled with freedom, self-expression, and all the things I never thought I could have when I was a teenager. He deserved so much more, so this song is my ode to him. If you see me well up when I perform it live, no, you didn’t.

Photography courtesy of Dan Aura