Progressive/groove metal group Auras released Heliospectrum in 2016, the culmination of many years of hard work perfecting a sound. Well, the band is back and has unleashed the experience and power they’ve acquired since their debut with the brand new album Binary Garden, out July 12th via Entertainment One/Good Fight Music (stream/purchase your copy here).
Originally from the city of Waterloo, Ontario, Auras has been working their asses off since the early 2010s to create their superb sound. The trial and error, tireless practise and gigging, and DIY attitude has created a solidly built four-piece who are capable of some massive heaviness, complex guitar riffs, and melodic ambience. The release of Binary Garden highlights just how far Auras has come, creatively speaking, as they really challenged themselves to put their best effort forward, from the early writing phases all the way through to the nitty-gritty of the production process. They chose to employ different vocal styles and song structures than what you can hear on Heliospectrum that are new and different but don’t sacrifice that signature sound they began to craft with their debut.
The album was recorded with Ottawa native Dean Hadjichristou (Parkway Drive, Protest The Hero, The Kindred) with some pre-production provided by Nick Sampson (Of Mice & Men, We Came As Romans, Born Of Osiris). Aside from its stellar sound, one of the standout aspects of Binary Garden is the stunningly colourful cover artwork. For the latest edition of our UnCovered series, we spoke with Auras singer and guitarist Joshua Ligaya about the creative process behind the beautiful artwork.
Watch the frantic new music video for “Momenta” off Binary Garden:
When looking at the artwork for Binary Garden, it’s obvious that a lot of thought went into what was going to be on the cover. What was the motivation for placing such a level of importance on the album art?
Joshua Ligaya: To me, album art is essential in setting the listener up for the vibe/mood the music will be bringing. The album, musically, has a lot more vibrancy with the emphasis on synths; bringing an atmospheric aesthetic. The art helps paint a picture mentally for the listener to grasp that vibe we wanted to deliver. From the colours, shapes, and themes we incorporated, I believe we accomplished what we were going for.
I suppose one of the best questions to begin with would be a simple one. What artist did you collaborate with on creating the album art?
Ligaya: Matthew (Portland) Hay from Forefathers Group was the artist I had a pleasure in working with. He knew exactly what I was looking for.
How much guidance did you offer to Hay when creating the artwork? Were you quite hands-on or did you let the process run its course and then come in with input later on?
Ligaya: I was pretty open to anything as long as it incorporated the colors and simplicity I had in mind. I try to not get too specific because it allows the artist to get creative on their end which typically leads to a better product. After a few back-and-forth emails, we agreed on a direction.
Peep some ”Before & After” and “Color Scheme Inspiration” images of the new album artwork:
One aspect I really love about the artwork for Binary Garden is the unconventional colour scheme. How did you decide on this sort of vibrant, neon, purple colour? Was this something you were actively involved with?
Ligaya: With the more emphasis on synth production I incorporated for this album, I always envisioned a neon purple aesthetic while writing the material. It always seemed to set the mood I was trying to create.
In addition to the colour scheme, there is a futuristic look to the artwork as well. I almost think of a city of flying cars on another, more technologically advanced planet. Was this factor part of the thought process at all?
Ligaya: That concept really came to life from the lyrics. It has a consistent underlining sci-fi theme which was inspired by the Netflix series Black Mirror. I felt it also really ties in with the colour scheme, too, bringing a cyberpunk-city vibe. It came naturally when reading the lyrics for album art inspiration.
Could you tell us more about the mediums used when creating the artwork? Indulge us in the actual creation process.
Ligaya: We started with the colour scheme. I found random pictures online and sent it to Portland. After that, we chose a flower to be the main focus but using geometric shapes in creating it. We felt it tied in with the album title very well. The cityscape within the geometric flower was Portland’s idea which brought the entire album concept to life. After a couple of revisions, we found “the one.” It was a very easy collaboration since we both had our creative ideas which were easy to combine in the end.
Listen to more from Binary Garden with the crushing new track “The Demoness:”
Despite it being quite abstract, based on the title of the album Binary Garden and the way the artwork looks, it most resembles a flower blooming to a very large size. Is this theme of growing and blooming something at all present in the album’s music and lyrics?
Ligaya: Some of the lyrics talk about how everything used to be organic but now is slowly becoming part of a digitalized system. This refers to the way we communicate, navigate, and operate as human beings. As technology improves, the less we rely on our natural intuition. A flower represented in a geometric form was the best way to capture that theme.
I also love some of the other alternate versions or at least inspirations for the artwork, like the shots of the city and the other logos. Were you ever close to going with any of these for the final look for Binary Garden?
Ligaya: As mentioned before, Portland chose to incorporate the cityscapes into the flower which was not what I envisioned originally. However, it was exciting to see how well it fit the concept which made it even that more unique. (I was) very happy with his idea.
Binary Garden was released on July 12th via Entertainment One/Good Fight Music. Check out the mesmerizing cover artwork:
Are there any releases or alternate versions of Binary Garden that will include the other designs and inspirations?
Ligaya: Nothing planned as of right now but there are alternative versions of the album artwork that we can always revisit if need be.
From beginning to end, how long would you say the process took for the final Binary Garden cover art?
Ligaya: Collectively, it took about four months from the moment I was introduced to Portland to receiving the final version.
In addition to the songs, does having an original, interesting and thought-provoking piece of cover artwork increase your satisfaction for the album as a finished product?
Ligaya: Absolutely. As mentioned before, album art is an essential piece. With the increased convenient access to online music, having eye-catching art is key in getting a browser’s attention. All the endless work into writing, recording, and editing can be completely wasted if the art doesn’t give off the right vibe or if it isn’t attractive enough for a listener to ‘click’ onto on their preferred streaming platform. From an artist’s perspective, it just makes the music we wrote that much more fulfilling and rewarding in seeing art that truly represents the aesthetic of the album musically. I’m still obsessed with how it turned out, and the more I see the art, the more excited I get about the album release. I am incredibly happy with the final product.
AURAS Interview on the Best-Tasting Smartie, Beer Pong and Sweatpants: