AURUS is a singer from the French island of Réunion who sings in English and Creole. He is coming to WOMADelaide 2024 next month where he is teaming up with the Aurora Vocal Ensemble for the first time. Read our chat with AURUS below.
Your artist name is AURUS. Why did you choose this name? What does it mean to you?
I’m quite fascinated by the Eye of Horus (an Egyptian divinity), which symbolises intuition, and also seeing beyond physical matter. For me, that’s what music is: something intuitive, but also something that you send and receive, even if it’s not palpable. Other symbols from the Horus myth speak to me enormously, and that’s what inspired my stage name.
How long have you been making music? Did you always want to be a musical artist?
I’ve been making music, self-taught, since I was very young. It’s always been a passion. I trained later, at the age of 22, at the CIAM in Bordeaux. I think the desire to be an artist has always been there 😉
Your music is said to evoke the Maloya of your roots. Maloya is the traditional music of Reunion Island. Is that where you’re based or where you grew up?
I was indeed born and brought up on Réunion. When I grew up, I went to live in France, but I came back to my island 4 years ago. I’m based there now, and I travel for tours.
How would you describe Maloya? How does Réunion’s traditional music compare with other island musical styles?
Maloya is a unique music. It stems from the dark period of slavery and has mainly African and Madagascan roots. In this sense, we could draw a parallel with the history of the Blues, even if Maloya is fundamentally different, particularly in terms of rhythm.
Later on, Maloya also mixed with the Malbars (from the Indian recruited workers).
Maloya is a 6/8 with a distinctive accent, a very percussive music with songs like “call and response”. It has also been a strong style of protest music! So it has political, spiritual, religious and cultural implications, reflecting the mixed heritage of Réunion Island.
People say that you have a shamanic appearance. Can you explain how your shamanic appearance and your emblematic headdress contribute to the overall expression of your artistic identity? What made you choose this look?
For me, the expression of Art in general comes through all the vectors. So the visual and stylistic aspects form a whole and complement my musical approach.
I’ve always had a taste for showmanship, and I admire artists like Björk, Freddie Mercury, Bowie and so many others, who also use their way of presenting themselves to the world, and on stage, in a singular and free way. In the end, I feel free that way, and that gives me strength.
Your music is performed in English and Creole. Do you explain the meaning of the Creole songs to non-Creole-speaking audiences?
Yes, I try as much as possible to explain the meaning of the songs in Creole to non-Creole-speaking audiences.
Do you tackle any particular themes or subjects in Creole that you don’t tackle in English?
Not really, there’s no split for me. In fact, most of the time I alternate between English and Creole within the same song.
Your music is described as having “absorbed the sounds of the world, from the Bronx, NYC, to the tribes of Africa and British pop”. Have you travelled a lot to discover world music?
I’ve been lucky enough to travel a lot, both personally and through my job. These journeys and encounters certainly nourish me as a person and my art.
Your music is really varied, with each song sounding very different from the last. Do you have a favourite musical style? How would you describe your own music?
I don’t think I have a favourite style of music. It’s very difficult to define myself, very few artists like to be labelled or to be labelled 😉
If I had to choose between the labels I’ve been given, I’d go for UFO 😉
It’s also been said that you have a majestic tenor voice. Do you have any musical training?
I trained at the CIAM in Bordeaux, where I took my first singing lessons. I trained there in jazz and contemporary music. I then trained in the SLS vocal technique.
Do you have a message to convey through your music?
I talk a lot about subjects that interest me. I like to question the way we function, as individuals and as a society. I talk about our relationship with ourselves, with others, with animals, with technology, with spirituality… I also talk about things I’ve been through: depression, burn-out… In the end, music is cathartic!
Is there an artist you’d love to work with?
There are so many:
Sting, Jordan Rakei, Fink, Olafur Arnalds, Kurt Elling, Bobby McFerrin, Björk … the whole list would be too long 😉
Can you describe your concerts for us?
It’s a visual and musical journey through my vision, my prism.
It’s hard to say more: each moment is unique, and the best way to find out is to come along 😉
At WOMADelaide, you’ll be accompanied by the Aurora Vocal Ensemble. Have you worked with them before? How much time will you have to rehearse together before the shows at WOMADelaide?
I’ve never worked with this magnificent ensemble before. But I’m really looking forward to the 2 days of rehearsals we have planned before we go on stage! I already know it’s going to be a moment suspended in time 🙂
What can audiences expect at your concerts at WOMADelaide?
A hypnotic and unique moment, as this will be the 1st time I’ve invited the Aurora Vocal Ensemble. There will be powerful, percussive and rhythmic moments, contrasting with more atmospheric, dreamlike moments, underpinned by polyphony!
I can’t wait to present my hybrid music, with my roots in Reunion, some of the instruments used in Maloya, and the electro and urban side!
Have you already been to Australia and are you playing other shows there?
I was lucky enough to discover Australia at the end of 2022 and the beginning of 2023. I was there for several months and I loved it. I was lucky enough to meet some superb musicians. In particular, I got to play with the Black Jesus Experience! I can’t wait to see them again: they’ll also be at WOMADelaide!
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I’ll be releasing a new track and video clip in early March: Filter Freak 😉
We thank AURUS for this interview and can’t wait to see him perform with the Aurora Vocal Ensemble at WOMADelaide 2024 ext month
KEY INFO FOR WOMADelaide 2024
WHAT: WOMADelaide (World of Music and Dance)
WHERE: Botanic Park, Adelaide
WHEN: Friday 8 – Monday 11 March 2024
HOW: There are various ticket types available depending on for how long you wish to attend the festival.
(AURUS will play two concerts: Saturday evening and Monday afternoon.
He will also be doing a workshop at WOMADelaide on the Sunday of the festival. In this workshop, AURUS will teach the audience vocal loops and harmony parts of some of Réunion’s most emblematic songs, as well as some of his original creations. The audience will learn the main rhythm of Maloya before singing the polyphonic vocal pieces with AURUS and singing a few words and phrases in Kréol).
HOW: There are several types of tickets available depending on for how long you wish to attend the festival. You can buy your tickets and see the full list of artists via the festival website
Discover all the artists with French and Francophone links at WOMADelaide 2024 via these two articles: