We marked Megan Dixon Hood as one to watch in ’21. With her “Ethereal songs and stories that seep from dark enchanted woods,” her music both haunts and soothes. She has her ongoing Friday livestreams to keep the kettle boiling and we cn;t wait to be able to catch her playing live again. Her music is readily available on the streaming platforms so there’s no excuse for deliberation. In the meantime, find out where Megan’s own inspirations lie as she joins us At The Barrier to write about Norwegian songstress Aurora.
Growing up as a teenager, I gravitated towards folk music. Singer songwriters who expressed themselves so eloquently in words that I wanted to climb into the lyrics. I wanted to be able to write them myself and longed to create melodies that would transport you to a place you didn’t know existed, yet felt so familiar all at the same time.
The folk singer songwriters I fell in love with probably fall into alternative genres too, but they were acts such as Laura Marling and Marika Hackman. They had these gentle and ethereal voices that hovered over metaphorical lyrics that I didn’t always understand but was still drawn to their poetic tones that floated above the picking of their beloved guitars. I wanted to be like them, but I didn’t play guitar and I still don’t. I do play the piano though and after many years of playing badly I wrote my own pieces so no-one could tell me I was playing it wrong. This was part of the reason I fell into the world of songwriting.
I continued my love affair with artists like Laura Marling and Marika Hackman, taking inspiration from them amongst many other indie folk acts along the way. Naively I thought I would only ever take interest in this genre, but as I developed my sound I soon realised there was much more experimenting to be done.
I was introduced to a Norwegian artist named AURORA while I was at university. I paid very little attention to her first album, claiming that it was overproduced and that her angelic voice would suit something more stripped back and poetic. Little did I know that everything I was looking for was right there, but amongst the more electronic production, I had refused to listen. I still don’t know what made me investigate a couple of years later, but I watched a YouTube video of her performing a live show in an old Norwegian cathedral; Nidarosdomen. In the middle of the stage, she stood, dressed in quirky clothing (probably made by her sister), surrounded by her band, an orchestra and a choir. At first, I watched out of curiosity but I was soon completely spellbound, partially by the soundscape that she created, but more importantly by her mesmerising performance.
Listen to The Seed here:
She is so extremely expressive that it almost becomes unnerving. Her whole face is alive, her eyes so wide and chilling that it is impossible to look away. It is a completely hypnotic presence, her gaze piercing straight through to you yet welcoming you into her mind all at the same time. Every note she sang held a story, every dance move she made was the song in physical form. It was this exact moment that I connected the dots and realised what I had been missing.
After this show, I devoured every other video I could find of her performing and any interview where her otherworldly personality shone through. She is so strange and full of magic that not only will you want to listen to her voice but you will also hang on to every word she has to say. I went back to listen to her album again and though I now recognised the songs to be beautiful, they didn’t quite leave an imprint in the same way a live show through a computer screen did. However, it seemed I picked the perfect time to fall in love with her music, because as soon as my new obsession began she released a whole new album. And another one soon after – a sibling album.
Infections Of A Different Kind – Step 1 and A Different Kind Of Human – Step 2 changed my musical world. They shaped the way that I heard music and how I write music. There is so much wisdom in her words, production and range of her vocals that it is hard not to be influenced by her. If you pay attention to just her vocal melodies you’ll hear the folk influence, what I always think of as Celtic sounding, taking us back in time to some place that our ancestors existed and that sound is still rooted in our veins.
Aurora’s songs are so uplifting and free spirited and yet explore such dark undertones within the same breath. I feel I have never related to an artist more. So much so that I sometimes have to be careful, it would be easy for me to try and replicate her through my own music because I am so heavily inspired, yet I know that I am my own artist and I have my own voice and stories to tell of my perspective of the world. It is comforting to know that there is someone else out there who thinks in the same ways I often do.
A perfect example of this is my favourite song (possibly ever?) called The Seed released on the Step 2 album. It is her anthem for Mother Earth, a message to us all to pay attention to the dying planet we live on ‘You cannot eat money, oh no, when the last tree has fallen and the rivers are poisoned, you cannot eat money’ she cries. Eerily enough, I had just recorded my own song The Wishing Tree before her release, with my own perspective on the same topic of which I feel very strongly about. Perhaps our mindsets aligned at the same time – maybe something to do with us being a similar age – as we grow and discover the world together whilst also being worlds apart.
Since this euphoric moment of discovery, I have been to see her live shows and can confirm that she is every bit of magic that you could hope for.
Thanks to Megan for taking the time to share her thoughts and for alerting us to a new artist with a really original talent. Megan’s own livestreams are ongoing – every Friday at 7.45pm.
Meanwhile have a listen to one of our favourite MDH tracks – The Wishing Tree:
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