FRISKY News caught up with The Aurora Principle and got a soulful glimpse into his new show on CHILL – Midnight Fires – and also learned more about his artistic representation and the challenges faced on his journey as an artist.
The mantra “California dreaming” is all about dreaming and being free and away from any hardships. Any California dreamer will attest to this. One of California’s sons, Chris Wortmann, embodies this very epiphany. Being the California dreamer he is, The Aurora Principle was born.
What started out as merely a creative outlet and a way to work with his more experimental ideas – The Aurora Principle has become Chris’ main creative focus since 2013.
The Aurora Principle’s musical style has historically consisted of ambient instrumental evolving soundscapes – shifting, introspective drones backed by warm bass tones and, occasionally, paired with organic/acoustic elements. Within Chris’ tracks you may discover a few intimate piano pieces; however, according to Chris, “that’s always been secondary”. He’s released some experimental electronica and chillout, and plans “to put out more in that vein”. Chris explained, “That doesn’t mean I’ll stop making pure ambient, just that I’d like to explore new avenues of creativity”.
Immerse into the tranquil world of CHILL’s newest show addition – Midnight Fires with The Aurora Principle – and fall in love with music all over again.
Hi Chris! It’s a pleasure to meet you. First, I’d like to start out by saying “thank you” for taking time out of your busy schedule to do this interview. I’m excited to be a part of your journey in giving a glimpse into your world for your followers and FRISKY listeners. Share with me your thoughts about being part of FRISKY’s CHILL Artist family?
Hello, Rhanda! I’m also pleased to make your acquaintance. I’ve actually had a guest mix on FRISKY before, back in October of 2016. I was extremely impressed by the professionalism and care that the team at FRISKY displayed when working with me at that time. As such, being an official part of the family feels great! I’m excited to share Midnight Fires on a platform that I respect.
If you would please, kindly share with me your personal backstory and why do you like doing what you do?
Well, I’ve been listening to all kinds of music since I was very young. My parents had some overlap in their tastes, but they each enjoyed rather different things as well. So, I was pretty open-minded when it came to what I would listen to. That being the case, in 2005 I picked up a CD by a band I’d never heard of – Pendulum. It was their debut album, Hold Your Colour, and it was my first real experience with electronic music. That album still holds up very well today, which is a real testament to Pendulum’s skill.
After that, I listened to everything from “1685/Bach” by Nosaj Thing to Mat Zo’s “Superman.” Years passed, and I found myself wanting be more personally involved with music. A friend of mine introduced me to FL Studio in 2011, and I’ve been making tunes ever since.
Creating music, for me, is about finding something interesting, beautiful, or unique, and building upon it to produce a story made of sound. I know that may sound a bit pretentious, but I’ve long been fascinated by the almost endless possibilities of electronic music production, in which the only limiting factor is one’s own imagination.
With that said, briefly describe your journey as an electronic chill artist. Is there anyone that has helped shape you as a musician?
The Aurora Principle isn’t my first production alias. It started as a side project in 2013, as a way to work with more experimental ideas. I’d been listening to, among other things, Andrew Bayer’s If It Were You, We’d Never Leave, C418’s Minecraft – Volume Beta, and Disasterpeace’s FEZ OST at the time, and I was itching to create music that was more than a 4/4 dance track. I explored a variety of approaches and styles, unsuccessfully, and I didn’t release much for some time.
Then, I discovered an artist called SineRider (and I’m not talking about the Psy Trance DJ). He was, and still is, a huge inspiration and influence for me. Through his work, I gained an appreciation for the fusion of Ambient and chill Electronica, and I began to feel more invested in what I was creating.
In February of 2016, I published “Sen,” which was my first semi-successful release. I’ve been trying to improve and expand my work since then, which has been helped by some good friends and colleagues, for each of which I am deeply thankful.
Some of my other inspirations include (in no particular order, of course) Aerocity, James Maloney, A Cerulean State, Luis Miehlich, Alaskan Tapes, Steve Reich, Etherwood, R Beny, Synkro, and Fading Language.
Let’s discuss about your new show on CHILL: Midnight Fires. (Love the name by the way) Describe what type of artistic representation themes your show personally captures for you. And what is the meaning behind your show’s name?
Thanks for the compliment! I’ve always thought of Midnight Fires as a sonic experience of warmth and calm – a representation of the feeling of sitting at a crackling campfire under the stars during a still night.
The music that I choose for the show typically reflects this, but I do like to bring up the energy a little toward the end. In most cases, I ask myself whether the songs I’m choosing exemplify what I like to think of as the tagline for Midnight Fires: “a glow in the darkness.”
What would you like – basically hope listeners grasp as a take-away from listening to Midnight Fires?
I would like for listeners of Midnight Fires to feel, as I mentioned previously, a sense of warmth and serenity. I want my show to instill the comfort of a tranquil evening spent by a steady campfire. It would also be great if the listeners gain a greater appreciation for ambient music through the show and actively seek out the work of artists I feature.
What type of challenges have you encountered from the start of your music career? Describe how these challenges help you grow and keep learning as an artist. And knowing what you know now, what would you tell your younger self?
Most everything that I know about music production, I learned on my own – through constant, blind trial and error. It took a long time, but I eventually became acutely familiar with my DAW, the tools it provided, and the ways to use it all effectively. This self-education has, at least in part, fostered my love for experimentation with different methods of synthesis, composition, and sound design.
The culmination of all that work, for me, was the release of my first full-length album, Things Unseen, in early 2017. As for the advice I’d offer to a younger me, I’d encourage myself to actively reach out to other emerging Ambient artists. Connecting with like-minded colleagues is a great way to make friends in the industry and to improve one’s own quality of work.
Share with me your thoughts of the following statement that ‘music possesses a healing quality that offers a form of escape’.
I’m no stranger to escapism; I’ve spent countless hours daydreaming about “what ifs.” Music, in particular, offers a unique opportunity for freedom from everyday worries. When I put my headphones on and press play, I can experience new worlds through sound. It’s easy to lose myself in a swirl of emotions, brought on by intricate, expressive melodies. There’s a story to be heard in every beat, all one needs to do is listen.
I want to thank you Chris – it’s been fun and an absolute treat interviewing you. Therefore, before we conclude our interview, do you have any final thoughts?
Thank you so much, Rhanda! I’ve quite enjoyed this. I’m incredibly excited to start sharing Midnight Fires on FRISKY, and I can barely wait for the first episode to air. I would like to thank you and everyone at FRISKY for granting me this exceptional opportunity!
Follow and interact with The Aurora Principle via social media:
Listen to the premiere episode of Midnight Fires Now: