It’s a record release party. The album? Burning Hearts and Bleeding Stars. Aura’s powerful voice drives the celebration. Her prom dress attire makes a statement out on the infamous Roxy stage, as people wave glowing toy wands in support of their edgy rock princess, while her free flowing blonde locks shine bright under the colorful house lights. Its official, Aura is back on stage doing what feels most natural to her: performing music. “Sometimes it’s easier to write and perform songs than it is to talk to people,” she shares. In 2001 singer/song writer Maura Murphy created Aura. Since then you may have caught her tunes on shows like The Young and the Restless, Jennifer Love Hewitt’s, The Client List, and a slew of reality shows. Her impressive rendition of Amazing Grace was featured in the box office smash, Chronicle.
Aura’s past work has been recognized with awards from Music Connection Magazine, LA Music Awards, and All Access Magazine. However, she’ll tell you that her 3rd album release, Burning Hearts and Bleeding Stars is her most personal and biggest accomplishment to date. “This one is my favorite, it was the first time I didn’t feel like I was trying to be someone else.” With a combination of inspirational anthems like Chosen, and haunting tales of despair in Escape, the album has definite range but, most importantly, it displays a journey of truth.
Veronica Barriga: When do you first recall discovering music, falling in love with it?
AURA: I was really young, I was the middle child and my brothers were very successful, very good looking. I felt like the odd one- the middle child, so I would just sing, and really got known for singing at a young ag. Then I started taking voice lessons. I did musical theater till about 9th grade and, when my grandmother passed away, I took all my money and bought my electric guitar that I still play now, and my first acoustic guitar. I felt good writing stuff down. That was how I got through High School.
VB: During that time you joined a punk rock band, how did that experience influence you?
AURA: Completely. I did everything to get in that band and they said, “No girls- No girls,” then they said “You have to learn an instrument.” So that pushed me to get better at guitar, and then I came back to them and they say, “Well you can’t be in the band unless your brother is the lead singer.” So he joined the band, I became his background singer. I helped him write all the songs. They he went off to college and I became the lead singer. We called ourselves The Under-Age and we played D.A.R.E gigs, school functions, and sometimes even clubs because we had fake I.D’s.
VB: What’s the biggest difference for you between the first album release and this current one?
AURA: I’ve never been so proud. It was so much work and now I feel like I did my job. In the past I always did too much management, all these “things”, and now I just focus on the music. I just got darker and more honest, admitted that I wasn’t the greatest singer in the world, but that I could relate to other people. I really wanted the sound to be more spacey and have effects. Hal Cantrell… he really deserves a lot. He added all the elements of the sound effects. We actually moved in together as friends. I made the recording studio in my house, built the soundproof walls and everything, because I hated being on the clock. So we worked on the album non-stop till 4 or 5 in the morning. I would recommend it to anyone, it’s much more organic that way… But the stuff doesn’t come off your walls. I had to pay for that when I moved out. Just a note to everyone out there… (She laughs).
VB: Who is your dream collaboration?
AURA: My favorite singer in the entire world is Jimmy Gnecco, lead singer in a band named Ours. He had Rick Rubin record an album, and the guy literally did not want fame. But if you go see their shows at places like Hotel Café or The Roxy… Anywhere… It’s always sold out! People love Jimmy Gnecco and I would love to sing with him. He’s friends with Jeff Buckley. He sings a lot like him, but really dark. Emo-ish. He is my dream goal.
VB: What’s your take on all these singing competition shows?
AURA: I loved it and I tried it. I don’t watch any of them anymore. I’ve been everywhere, been to American Idol, made it through 3 rounds and then some girl told me my voice was not powerful enough, when my voice is known for being powerful. I had a special audition for The Voice. Remember, a lot of these are also cast. They are looking for something specific. My friends work in reality TV and it’s really opened up that process to me. So I don’t (she switches gears)… The selection process is very staged and that kinda stuff did get to me during that time. I went on VH1’s Charm School (as a guest musician) and Sharon Osbourne said I had the best voice but then it’s all mixed in with these girls fighting. My voice was great; I wrote a song on the show. We had one show to do it… Then the other girls just said nasty stuff about me and, then, with the editing… I was like, I’m done. I’m done with reality TV. I’m done with any game show. I just want to go back to being real. Lose things that have you worry about the image.
VB: You wrote a song about the experience.
AURA: I would always get chosen, and then after I was chosen I would get knocked down. That’s why I wrote the song Chosen to give the message that you should keep fighting even though people are putting you down. Watch as it gets picked to be on American Idol as the theme song (she jokes). That would be great… It’s amazing when you really do find out who you are and you’re happy with it… You do so much better than when you’re trying to be someone else and I feel like that’s where I am now.
VB: What would you say is your mission with your music?
AURA: Adele has really inspired me, she comes out, sells 10 million albums, and no one would have thought that. I was a teenager in the 90’s and that’s when women had the most number 1 singles and now I just don’t feel like there is enough girl music out there. There’s a lot of dance music out there, but I really miss girl singer/songwriters. I miss Sheryl Crow, and Stevie Nicks. I miss turning on the radio and hearing stuff that made you feel something. Now you have to listen to country to do that. I really enjoy when people call me and tell me what their favorite songs are, and it’s always something different from I think would be the favorites. One Step Away is about my friend dying and I literally get messages, e-mails, from people responding to it. I just want to change people’s lives, because that’s all the time we have to do something.
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