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Violet Aurora’s Kath Choa shares “Somewhere Brighter” inspiration, talks songwriting process, more

What sets Violet Aurora apart is their natural flair for capturing that unvarnished, candid indie sound that is as euphoric as it is sentimental.

Manila-based two-piece outfit Violet Aurora are back with another catchy, thematically raw pop-rock treat. “Somewhere Brighter”, the band’s first offering this year, most recently hit the airwaves mid-August—and has since been streamed nearly 9,000 times as of press time. The song is among a handful of new ones that members Kath Choa and Moss Eisley have been writing and recording over the last months in isolation. And right, it’s from a yet-to-be-named debut full-length slated for 2021.

Albeit forming only in 2018, the two admit to being huge fans of one another already long before joining forces. They also just happen to share a lot of things in common, thus officially setting out on a joint musical venture where their bents align—and their obsessions fuse—is not only natural and sensible, it is, by all means, for the best.

What sets Violet Aurora apart is their natural flair for capturing that unvarnished, candid indie sound that is as euphoric as it is sentimental. Their music is the embodiment of both woe and delight; the aftermath of disconnect and awakening. They write both nostalgic and cheerful anthems that surprisingly fit well together; and of which ingenuity is always a part.

With their eclectic sonic textures reminiscent of what a beabadoobee-fronted No Vacation-Best Coast-Lush supergroup would sound like*, so to speak, Violet Aurora succeed effortlessly in delivering open-ended indie pop-rock meanderings. In this exclusive chat interview with the duo’s lead singer and songwriter, Kath, she tells us about the band’s early beginnings, her thematic inspirations, and reveals how she and Moss do their respective homeworks.

Why “Violet Aurora” and how did you and Moss meet?

Moss and I are good friends and we’ve known each other since college. We were coursemates and org-mates in AMP (Ateneo Musicians Pool). Back then we played in different bands but kept in touch mostly via Twitter as we both have a penchant for music, matcha, the northern lights, and the color purple! This explains why we named our band Violet Aurora.

Let’s talk about “Somewhere Brighter”. How did you come up with it? What inspired the song?

I wrote “Somewhere Brighter” February of this year. It’s basically about going through one hardship after another, and not being able to catch a break. It’s about daydreaming of the past when things were easier and at the same time wanting brighter days to come already even though you know that you have to ride the wave before things eventually get better. Our song “Tonight” from New City Streets actually revolves around the same ruminations.

It’s about daydreaming of the past when things were easier and at the same time wanting brighter days to come already even though you know that you have to ride the wave before things eventually get better.

Kath Choa

Aside from such introspective concept, what else influences the way you approach your writing?

I’ve been reading up a lot on mental health and practicing meditation so some of our songs have recurring themes about these struggles and topics as well.

“Somewhere Brighter” is obviously a very happy-sounding track. Pretty summery. It’s so catchy in terms of rhythm, giving this carefree, even blissful vibe, but why the sad lyrics?

Half of the time, we like to play around and mix sad lyrics with happy melodies. On “Somewhere Brighter”, despite the heavy lyrics, we used major chords and cheerful arrangements for both the vocals and instruments. It was a deliberate aesthetic choice as we wanted to end up with something that gives listeners some bit of hope!

Half of the time, we like to play around and mix sad lyrics with happy melodies.

Kath Choa

Do you mind giving us a glimpse of your songwriting workflow?

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As for the songwriting process, each song is usually different. “Somewhere Brighter”, for example, was written hand in hand, which is my favorite way of songwriting, by the way, as it gives the work this more natural and fluid quality.

In particular, how did you record “Somewhere Brighter”? It sounds so professionally done!

For this song I first recorded an acoustic draft and sent it over to Moss. He then made a demo based on how he imagined the arrangement should be, a bit like that scene from Begin Again. We tirelessly exchanged files back and forth until finally, Moss sent me a rough mix to track vocals and acoustic guitars with. He then mixed everything.

Interesting! Did he take on the mastering duties too?

Moss usually does the mastering for us but for this particular release we decided to try having it mastered by Yellow Room Music Philippines and we were extremely happy with the result!

Lastly, how will the debut album sound like? Will it be any different from New City Streets? Or is it, like, a follow-up to that material?

Our album will still be influenced by our earlier material for sure but you can expect a tighter VA sound as we’re now more used to working with each other musically and are already familiar with what works for us and what does not. Also, half of the songs in New City Streets were actually written long before the band was formed. Moss wrote “One Thing” and I wrote “Wide Awake” years ago. The songs from the new album will all be written with Violet Aurora in mind. It will still be a mix of upbeat indie pop-rock songs and slower tunes that are heartbreaking.

Stream “Somewhere Brighter” below and be sure to follow your new favorite band, Violet Aurora.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

*None of the artists mentioned happened to be among VA’s myriad of influences! So you gotta get on with them and correct us if we’re wrong. 😉

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