Helsinki-based newcomers St. Aurora self-released their debut EP, They All Remember, on May 28, 2021 as a melting pot of alternative rock, emo, and heavier musical elements. The Finnish five-piece combines the talents of founding members Ero Lamberg (bass, backing vocals) and Walter Kousa (drums), as well as Tuomas ‘Nile’ Nilsson (vocals), Oscar Mäkinen (guitar), and Sami Selei (guitar).
“Falling (Just Another Way to Fly)” was the first single released prior to the EP seeing daylight, and it’s an audience favorite, having garnered the most streams on the band’s Spotify account. The energetic rock track features a chorus that invites the listener to sing along, and a slight emo tinge reminiscent of My Chemical Romance. “Rejects of Society” follows, taunting the status quo with lyrics such as: “We’ve walked in the shadows all our lives//Far away from the narrow minds//We don’t need the guidance nor disguise//We are the ones who crawl the nights.”
The title track opens with a music box, acoustic guitar, and strings, combining the somber and the whimsical, while evoking the imagery of the EP’s cover art. Nilsson delivers believable emotion in his solid rock vocals, and the backing vocals complement the mood as well.
“Is It My Time?” is another highlight; it sets out with a stomping country vibe, layering hushed whistles and hummed vocals over acoustic guitar and percussion. Clocking in at 6:17, it’s by far the longest track on the album and the most stylistically diverse from the others; it turns heavier and riff-driven around the 2:50 mark, punctuating the end of the EP.
In an interview with Metal Solstice, Nilsson gave insight into St. Aurora’s signature sounds, both on They All Remember and future material already in progress. Although no St. Aurora live performances are currently on the books, the band is readying itself for a setlist full of songs from the EP, covers, and yet-to-be-heard selections for the audience. At the risk of getting personal [“…they might kill me for this!] the singer also introduced himself the rest of the band in detail.
Metal Solstice: Can you explain the challenges, highlights, and general experience of starting a new band during a global pandemic?
Nile Nilsson: Well obviously the worst thing about it is that we couldn’t do shows. In the modern times that is almost the only way to grasp on to people besides from very talented marketing.
But there are of course pros as well. The good thing is, we can work on new music peacefully without a rush so the new stuff doesn’t come out all, “Hey hey, put your hands up if you love everything, we like cars, blah!” We also have the time to get to know each other better and form a proper energy between us so that when we finally get on stage, everything just clicks.
MS: The band is new, but you’re all veterans of the Finnish rock scene. How did your previous experience in other bands inform/influence the way you approached forming St. Aurora, as well as releasing this EP?
Nilsson: Of course it has taught all of us the basics of forming a working energy in the band. It’s about dynamics, balance and good vibes. But still every band is different and they don’t all work the same and that is just part of what makes it so graceful and fun.
MS: Let’s get to know St. Aurora; what’s something about yourself and at least one other band member, that people might not know or expect?
Nilsson: [Laughs.] Well alright, I’mma bust some bubbles about our people, and they might kill me for this, but heck, I deserve a beating once in a while. Walter used to be a tram driver which is funny ‘cause he has a pretty quick mouth for suckers who get up in his face. Ero has a bunch of creatures living in his flat. There’s like huge cockroaches (in a glass box of course) and crickets that he feeds to their mighty parta agama lizards. One of them is named Aurora.
Sami has a weird way of fucking himself up. In this little under a year I’ve known him, he has broken like four different body parts, all on different occasions. In fact during the “Falling” music video shootings he was struggling with a broken finger. Oscar and I are huge fans of videogames. We are always searching for new co-op games to play together. A few years back we came up with a tradition to play a game called “Cuphead” at least once a year.
MS: Can you discuss a bit about the art for the singles and They All Remember EP cover, including the artists and inspiration behind each?
Nilsson: The singles got their art from the magnificent Joni Nieminen (@j.o.nieminen) who worked with us from start to finish. It always began with me sending the song in its current form to him and then we gave him a couple of ideas which he then vibed with and drew his version. It was all ideas formed into a mush and then refining it to it’s final form.
The EP’s art was made by OWM Vision (@owm_vision) and that was a complete surprise for me. Ero had gave him the specs and one day he just sent me this masterpiece and went like, “Whattaya think?” and I was all, “Where the hell…?” We’re thinking about filming a music video for they all remember in a theater much like the one in the album cover, and the music box tells the story of They All Remember.
MS: This EP squarely fits into the alternative rock genre, and even has enough dark vibes to perk up the ears of the metalheads. “Agree to Disagree” takes a turn for the upbeat, reminiscent of the heyday of emo/pop-punk. With all of that in mind, which musical elements would you consider to be St. Aurora’s signature so far?
Nilsson: I think the EP is like a group of paint cans from which we take paint to color the upcoming albums. It’s like showing what we’ve got, and here’s what we’re gonna use. With all that in mind, I still think They All Remember is the core of St. Aurora, and I strongly believe that it is closest to the style of what we’re going to do in the future.
There’s clean stuff, there’s fry screaming, there’s heavy guitars and there’s violins. It’s super emotional and it has a strong story. I’m a big fan of melodramatics, so giving in to music’s powers and just letting go feels uncontrollably great.
MS: In other interviews, you’ve mentioned that you’re already working on future music. What can you share about that material in progress?
Nilsson: I could say the next few songs are taking form quite the way we planned. It’s starting to sound more like us, and the whole package feels even more in place. Funny enough, the next few songs are actually based on demos from everybody in the band individually. There’s a couple of demos from each band member and we’re just waiting for them to open up and see what gets to be the next one we finish. I like the way we all have tendencies to write our own stuff so we have a lot of variants and everyone gets to show their stuff and then we just make it shine in the St. Aurora way.
MS: Speaking of new music- will you try it out on stage when it’s time, perhaps even prior to releasing it? How are you preparing yourselves for the return of live performances?
Nilsson: I’m pretty sure we’re going to play new songs on stage before releasing them! I love playing new stuff so people get the first glimpse of it thrown at their face and seeing the performance at the meantime. I myself am trying to get in shape so my body will not be an obstacle for anything I want to do on stage. We’re all practicing new stuff, a handful of cover songs, and playing the EP songs. It’s gonna be a hell of a ride when we hit the stages. Stay safe and get bored, for nothing is ever created if we don’t!