If The Breakfast Club was set in 2022, we can wholeheartedly confirm its soundtrack would be comprised entirely from the likes of Au/Ra. To that effect, the German/Antiguan artist squeezes every last drop of her sugar-sweet sound into her single “Plz don’t waste my youth”, an alt-pop track which perfectly sets the scene for her brand new music video. Featuring clips taken with vintage filters, the visual is as light and airy as the vocalist, who effortlessly sings a story of childish innocence into a portable mic and karaoke set. The alluring melody rings of the childhood-defining beats of millennials, which mixes with rising synths to build a feeling of excitement and climax. Yet unlike so many coming of age songs, the track doesn’t lose momentum and instead breaks into a chorus of energetic and triumphant tunes. Though Au/Ra perfectly encapsulates the vulnerability of youth, the track and visual makes an entirely new statement: viewing youth as a treasure, and something to protect and enjoy for oneself, rather than to be wished away.
In her own words, Au/Ra explains, “‘plz don’t waste my youth’ is about how young people kinda grow-up so quickly in today’s society. I think seeing everyone’s highlight reel on social media has raised expectations on us. When you turn 18, you’re supposed to have figured out what you want from life, but that’s not how it works. Personally, I sometimes felt I wasn’t getting to enjoy the time I had as a teenager, because I was plagued with the worry of being successful enough and having it all figured out. It’s not always easy to cope with, especially when you’re already an anxious person. I just really wanted to express how difficult it can feel for young people and society’s expectations of them and yell about it.”
With her work already featured in Netflix shows and Love Island episodes, it appears Au/Ra will be taking it upon herself to do as she advises in her music. To pursue her passions without the weight of expectation, and have a lot of fun in the process. Putting this into practise, the artist talks to Wonderland about navigating the cuffs of social media and overcoming her anxieties.
Scroll below for the full interview…
Heya Au/Ra how are you? How has this past year been?
Hey I’m pretty good! This past year has been up and down to be honest. I’ve definitely had a lot of low moments kind of rippling off the pandemic but also some really really great moments with friends and family that I probably wouldn’t have been able to have if I wasn’t home for a longer amount of time, so I’m grateful for that.
With the pandemic affecting everyone in different ways, do you think it affected your creativity in any way?
The pandemic definitely affected my creativity. I felt inspired by those low moments to turn them into something I could share and talk about. It also forced me to stop and think about the bigger picture of what I want to do with my music, and remember that it was to build a community and safe place through music for people who feel the way I do, and I really got to develop that further with my Discord server as well, which was pretty awesome.
How did you first get into music? What sparked the interest?
My parents are both in the music industry. I grew up watching them work all the time, just sitting in the studio on the couch, with my Nintendo DS haha. I think being in that environment just inspired me right away, it stuck with me. When I got a bit older I joined a choir at school, and my music teacher helped me come out of my shell – I used to not sing in front of anyone except my mom. After that I opened up more about my voice and my love for singing and writing, and took matters into my own hands by starting to upload covers on YouTube.
And now you’re dropping your new single, talk us through your mindset going into it!
I’m super excited PDWMY is out! I wrote that song for the part of me that feels like I grew up too fast. I needed to yell about it. I think a lot of the time young people have to sacrifice things for this traditional “young” life we romanticise. That really isn’t the reality for some people, and either way everyone’s growing up quicker with society’s expectations of them.
And it’s about social media and expectations, do you feel pressures when it comes to online content?
I absolutely do feel pressure when it comes to online content. It’s just so crazy that you can cherry pick how you choose to portray yourself to other people and they do perceive you like that from skimming a profile, but they still don’t really know. I interact a lot with my listeners and have my Discord community and the connection there feels real, and it’s really nice, but yeah I do think a lot about posting the right content and thinking about engagement. It is taxing on my brain but now it’s kind of expected when you’re in this industry now. You’re expected to be multi-faceted in that way and it’s not just about being creative musically anymore.
What do you hope people take away from your music?
I hope people take away that I just really wanna talk about my experiences growing up and how it’s been for me, and have that be there for other people. I know others feel the way I do in dealing with anxiety, and over-thinking, and big sadness, especially when you’re young and trying to figure everything out for yourself. I just want to create a community and safe space. I feel like I’ve managed to do that a little bit, which I’m very very proud of.
Who would you say inspires you?
I would say so many different things inspire me. I love creating stories and worlds around my songs, and that comes from my love of gaming and anime, fantasy worlds, and RPG worlds, where you can really dive into an alternate reality. I hope my music can take people into a different world, a different aesthetic, and can broaden their imagination and perspectives.
What are you most excited for in 2022?
I’m just ecstatic to release more music. I have so much in the pipeline that I can’t wait for people to hear. I know everyone says that but it’s the truth! I feel like I’m just taking the first steps into this next part of my career and I’m pretty hyped about it!