#BlackAltBae: Shola Aurora

Words cannot express the sheer glee I felt when Shola Aurora agreed to an interview. A New York-based artist who draws from a vast (and diverse) well of influences, it was the utmost pleasure to complete this interview with him on November 14th, 2022.

SHOLA. I first found out about you through Punk Black, in their weekly digest on Facebook (yes, I'm a dinosaur). It was right around the time you dropped the video for “Falling”. Your voice…out of this world. Right away, I had to stop what I was doing so I could follow you on every platform. Tell me ALL about you, starting with your name—how did you choose “Shola Aurora"? It’s beautiful.

Well, first and foremost, thank you for all the kind words. I also want to send a super shout out to Punk BLACK featuring me. I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York as  the son of two Nigerian immigrants. Shola is actually a part of my middle name. It’s short for Olushola. It means to be blessed by god. My actual name has 5 parts to it . I chose Aurora as my last name for several reasons. Years ago I wanted to distance myself from my past, family, and trauma. Create a new personification for myself. I remember one day watching the Anime "Heat guy J". The first time J called out to Daisuke Aurora, something clicked for me. His character was someone I wanted to be like. He embodied an energy I wanted to bring into my own life. So from then on, I took on the name Shola Aurora.

You’re Nigerian?!?? OMG—my family’s from Western Cameroon! I knew I felt “something” when I first saw you. If you could only hear how I’ve been pronouncing “Shola”, lol. I’m now picturing your family reaction’s to your aesthetic and your taste in music. I’m guessing it was a lot like mine’s.

Yup, 100%.  My dad is from Lagos. My mom is from Abuja. As for the reactions, let's just say there were a lot of things said they wouldn't ever want to repeat. 

I know you’ve been in music for over a decade now. How exactly did you get started in music and how many instruments do you currently play?

Believe it or not, I started singing way back in  kindergarten. I figured out I could sing during my graduation lol. At that time I thought I would grow up to be an R&B Artist. That was the plan until I turned 13 and got a hold of the Meteora Album by Linkin Park. It truly changed how I viewed music and how I wanted to be a part of it. So I switched focus and continue to improve my vocals. At age 17, I was gifted my first guitar by a random stranger. My family couldn’t afford a private tutor so I taught myself using tabs online. for the most part, I can sing and play guitar .

After high school, I joined/started a band called Sol Ardour. Our lead guitarist and band leader (Artemis) taught me how to write music using a program called Guitar Pro. It's a tablature program that lets you hear back your ideas in real time. To this day, it is still the way my guitarist and I write music.

Eventually Sol Ardour Broke up. Myself and Topeng (my guitarist) continued to work together and reformed as Shola Aurora.

So you’re basically a self-taught guitarist? How long did it take you to get comfortable just playing?

Yes, for the most part. Honestly, I am an okay guitarist. My main talents are singing and songwriting. I learned guitar so that I could improve my songwriting and overall understanding of music. Playing guitar helped me understand the mechanics of rock music. I'm not sure if I'll ever truly get comfortable playing guitar. Though I play to practice more like I used to, lol.  

I love, love, LOVE your aesthetic. When did you first realize that this was the look for you and how did your family respond?

Music has always played a big influence on my appearance. When I first got into nu-metal, I dressed in the heavy trip pants and chains. The kind of stuff you would see at Hot Topics back in the day. When I got into visual kei ,however, it completely changed my view on aesthetics. Artists like Gackt, The Gazette, Luna Sea, and Dir En Grey drew people into the worlds of their music both visually and audibly. I wanted to do the same. So I experimented a lot with androgynous styles and looks. I taught myself how to do my own makeup. Coming from an African household, you can imagine how my parents felt about all this. I spent a long time fighting to be me. Eventually they kind of realized that it wasn’t a phase. 

And a self-taught makeup artist too? Is there anything you can’t do? Next thing you’ll be telling me you braid your own hair. And where do you shop???

I wouldn't go as far to say I'm an artist at it. I just know enough to achieve the looks that I want. YouTube was the biggest help. I for sure have someone braid my hair.

In terms of shops I mix it up. There are a lot of online brands I like. Some US brands, some Japanese brands. Civarize, Sex pot Revenge, Punk Rave, Red Queen Black Legion, h.NAOTO, Devlin Inspired, Koi Footwear, Love Hunter boots, New Rock boots...I could go on, lol. 

Favorite makeup brands?

Too Faced for my foundation, concealer, and setting power. Their eyeshadow palettes are really good. I love MAC Cosmetics' deep blue shadows.

I love watching your performance videos; you look so comfortable on stage. Was it always that way, or did it take some getting used to?

When I first started performing, I used to get terrible stage fright. My heart would race and I would shake uncontrollably. The most important thing in those moments was pushing them. I kept pushing myself and studying those who came before me. Trying to implement some of that in my live show and making it my own. I failed a lot before I got good. You do that long enough and you become a natural.

I love your YouTube channel (and I do follow you on TikTok now). When are we getting more videos?

Honestly, I'm not sure yet. As much as I have no issue getting on stage, I have a much harder time being behind a camera. I am a perfectionist so I like to keep things under wraps til they're perfect. If you are curious about what I am working on, I have the next single completely recorded. Just been trying to fund the mixing cost and music video cost for it. I do have some covers in mind as well. I have just been super busy with my day gig. I promise to try to put out more as soon as possible. On the plus side, I do have a patreon up that I do post more rough versions of unfinished  work.

According to your channel, you’re musically influenced by “visual kei , goth, metal, glam, rock, and experimental music”. Who are you currently listening to?

Cazqui Brutal Orchestra, Bad Omens, Jiluka, ColdRain,  Veil Of Maya, PaleDusk, Polyphia, & Kizu. All of these acts are absolutely insane!

Since the theme of this blog is “Support Black Alt” artists, which ones do you currently recommend?

VRSTY, Type:V, Animals as Leaders, Queen BEE (Black/Japanese Artist), BigKlit, Oceano.

I love Queen Bee. I felt like once they dropped “Kaen”, it was all over. Have you ever visited Japan? If not, do you plan to?

Queen Bee is awesome. I actually have been to Japan twice. The second time was when I debuted my current project. I usually stay in the Tokyo area for about a month.

I’m not going to pressure you for an album, because I know producing a good one is time-consuming and extremely expensive. That all being said, are there plans for a full-length album and how can we help?

Hmm, well let's put it like this. If we had the means financially we could have an album released within the next few months. We have a lot of songs written. Though, in this day and age it makes more sense to put out singles. This allows us to continue to build our base and it makes it so that we don't burn out by releasing everything at once. 

What is the future of the magnificent and incomparable Shola Aurora?

The next single is completely tracked. We are in the mixing stage. In addition we are planning for the next few music videos. Follow the link below to all of my socials: 😁

Shola, thank you AGAIN for doing this. You’ve made the rest of my year.


Popular Posts