Aurelia talks autonomy and taking back power on the release of survivor anthem ‘Sinister Things’

"Measuring your success by the way that YOU find meaningful, instead of industry numbers, will keep you sane. Finding people who truly value you is important too."
13 October 2022

By Vanessa B

New York-based producer, vocalist and visual artist Aurelia (she/they) recently joined us for an exclusive interview on the release of her latest single Sinister Things, out now.

Aurelia is the creative brainchild of Gabriella Bavaro, and its inception is an inspirational story of overcoming and turning one’s struggles into art. They began the project following a suicide attempt and PTSD diagnosis that spurred them into turning over a new leaf to live life on their own terms and take to songwriting. Aurelia aims to empower listeners of her music in kind, as she explains:

“I hope that this song inspires others who have experienced sexual abuse to understand the power of
their survivorhood, to feel powerful, and to seek out justice even when the world feels foreboding. I hope people can find solace and bravery in this song, as I found it,“

A multi-talented creative, Aurelia shot, styled and edited the impressive self-portrait for the song’s cover art, illustrating the song’s concept, all from their Brooklyn studio. “It features the figure of Lady Justice, who was a personification of justice in Ancient Roman art. Normally, the Lady of Justice holds both a scale and a sword: the scales represent the weighing of evidence, and the sword represents authority and swift and final punishment. Here I’ve put down the scales, I’m believing, and am instead wielding just the sword, claiming power back for myself.”

Speaking on the subject matter of Sinister Things, Aurelia shared her perspective behind its message of reckoning and revenge in the face of sexual assault.

“[Sinister Things] is a song about believing victims, no, SURVIVORS, of sexual assault,” says Aurelia. “On ‘Wax’, there’s this narrative of a monstrous abuser, something I wanted to share, and the shame that came along with those feelings. ‘Sinister Things’ answers those dark questions, of self-worth and acceptance and even retribution, with a resounding ‘YES’. I’m choosing violence in this song, and no matter what words may spill out of the lips of others, I am choosing to own myself and even get some justice for those who wronged me. It’s what I should have done when it happened to me, and a statement about showing up for myself and others in the future.”

Aurelia’s electronic and experimental sounds take inspiration from an eclectic background of classical instrumentation, opera, and world-influenced rhythms. Her debut single Wax, released in November 2021, achieved more than 300,000 plays online and enthusiastic industry acclaim. Its accompanying music video, made on a shoestring budget, was also an official selection of the Indie Shorts Fest, part of the Lost Angeles International Film Festival, where it was nominated for Best Music Video, Best Director (Aurelia), and Best Original Composition in January 2022.

Listen to Sinister Things below and read on for our QuickFire Questions interview with Aurelia.

What does living life on your own terms look like?

NOT TAKING ANYONE’S SHIT! I love this phrase because of its implications. YOU set the terms of your life, and YOU live it. I think there are so many expectations for what you SHOULD be as an adult, and how you should spend your time. If I set both the terms and the conditions for my own life, however, that means real freedom! For me, living on my own terms means embracing my real self, not pretending to be anyone or anything else for external validation. It means dressing how I want to dress and not allowing the input of ANYONE; partners, family members, etc. It means setting healthy boundaries with people in my life, and not just living to please others. It means spending my paycheck on things that bring me joy (like my cow tea kettle, or my frog sponge holder, or the crazy outfits I wear as an artist) and not just making purchases that adhere to strict aesthetic standards of what an adult apartment should look like. It’s true joy for me, and I think that everyone should do it.

Does being a music artist and visual artist give you any additional perspective on sexual abuse, and issues faced by women and LGBTQ+ youth in particular?

That’s an interesting question. As someone who is all of the above, I think I’m making art that people like myself would LIKE to listen to. Therefore, I think I take a keen interest in studying what being a member of these communities means, and I think the music and art both shape and solidify that perspective.

What does growth mean to you?

Growth can mean many things, but I think the best metric is the betterment of yourself and your internal dialogue. Would the person you were 2 years ago be proud of you? Will the person you will be 2 years from now like what you’re doing? If the answer is “yes” to both questions, you’re growing, and in the right direction.

What do you think are the most difficult aspects of being a music professional?

Understanding that music is subjective while also surrounded by a veil of privilege and connection. You can do everything right for a project, but if that sound just doesn’t hit at the right time (or if you don’t have deep connections to certain other executives or professionals) it still won’t work out. The industry, back to front, is a cacophony of who knows who, and what they can do for you. Measuring your success by the way that YOU find meaningful, instead of industry numbers, will keep you sane. Finding people who truly value you is important too.

Does your visual art help you to formulate your music as well, or perhaps the other way around?

Ooo this is a good one. Sometimes melodies just come to me when writing, and I save them for later. But other times? I’ve written music entirely based on images I want to evoke, or a style of art I’ve seen. Often, the concept or visual comes before the lyrics, even. I just get a feeling.

What do you want to make listeners of your music feel?

POWERFUL! Iconic! Energized! It is my biggest hope that something in my writing resonates with a listener, and helps give them language or a new sense of how to deal with their own struggles. It definitely helped me!

Do you have a favourite lyric in Sinister Things or one that sums up the song for you?

“DON’T YOU PUT YOUR HANDS ON ME”

What is something you’re looking forward to currently?

Halloween, my cat’s birthday, new music, an NYC show in the coming months.

Follow along with Aurelia’s journey and stream or buy her music via the links below.

youraurelia.com