Introducing Max Aurora’s Curated Playlist: ‘How I Missed Home and Crossed the Ocean’

A sonic look at the Ocean as a historically inspiring hub for writers everywhere

Step into a world of musical exploration and heartfelt emotion with Max Aurora’s curated playlist, inspired by their new song ‘How I Missed Home’. Under the stage name of Max Aurora, this non-binary artist has delved into the realms of fashion, makeup, and self-expression, creating an eclectic blend of indie rock that resonates with themes of self-development and empathy.

Max Aurora & The Southern Lights, a dreamy bittersweet indie rock band hailing from Naarm / Melbourne, paints a vivid soundscape through their music. Drawing from influences ranging from the rosy naivety of 1950s aesthetics to the cinematic artistry of concept albums, they craft songs that speak to the heart.

Max Aurora & The Southern Lights

Their latest track, ‘How I Missed Home’, serves as the catalyst for an enchanting Spotify playlist that transports you across the vast expanse of the ocean. Max’s inspiration from the documentary ‘Maidentrip’, depicting the incredible journey of Laura Dekker, infuses the playlist with a sense of longing and discovery.

As the waves of sound carry you through the playlist, you’ll encounter tracks that embody the intensity of desire, introspection, and bittersweet euphoria. From the pop-punk melodies of ‘One for the Road’ by Funeral for a Friend to the hauntingly beautiful imagery of ‘At Sea’ by Ali Barter, each song captures a facet of the ocean’s allure.

The playlist culminates in a crescendo of emotions, echoing the sailor’s gaze towards twilight-tinted horizons. Gang of Youths’ ‘unison’ and the classic ‘Six Months in a Leaky Boat’ by Split Enz evoke a sense of poignant yearning, while Kate Bush’s ethereal ‘Hello Earth’ casts a mystic aura over the musical journey.

Max Aurora & The Southern Lights

But the exploration doesn’t end with the playlist. Dive deeper into the visual inspirations behind Max Aurora’s music video for ‘How I Missed Home’. From the candid documentary style of ‘Maidentrip’ to the dreamy surrealism of Kate Bush’s videos and the evocative simplicity of ‘Knees Deep’ by The Beths, you’ll uncover the artistic elements that shaped the visual narrative.

Embark on this melodic voyage, guided by Max Aurora’s curated playlist and their evocative insights, and let the waves of music carry you through a realm of emotions, memories, and dreams. Immerse yourself in the world of ‘How I Missed Home’ and let the music envelop you in its embrace.

How I missed home and crossed the ocean – Spotify Playlist inspired by ‘How I Missed Home’ by Max Aurora

What do you think of when it comes to music inspired by the ocean?

Is it sounds doused in reverb? Sea shanties? Surf rock? ‘My Heart Will Go On’?

To me it’s about the contrast of vastness and closeness (and of course reverb!). It’s also an exciting dreamy feeling of potential I felt from the ‘Maidentrip’ documentary, which I tried to capture with ‘How I Missed Home’, and have further explored with this Spotify playlist entitled ‘How I missed home and crossed the ocean’.

I spent a good while tweaking this playlist so that the songs flowed in a way that satisfied my love for the ocean. The first section is about the intensity and immediacy of desire that the ocean can carry.

A track that exemplifies this feeling is ‘One for the Road’ by Welsh post-hardcore band Funeral for a Friend. It’s from ‘Tales Don’t Tell Themselves’, their 2007 concept album about a fisherman lost at sea trying to get home. I interpret the song is told from the fisherman’s wife’s perspective as she ponders the weight of her desire to talk to him when he is so far away.

The lyrics read like the painful longings of a diary, within a catchy pop-punk melody surrounded by a sound that goes from huge guitars in the chorus, to dreamy guitar in the verses. The track ends with the repeat of ‘you never lie’ sung as if someone is trying to scream it across the ocean.

In the next section of the playlist, the mood gets less epic and more introspective. If you know anything about mixing, think a low pass filter smothering the frequencies. A track that shows this is ‘At Sea by Australian artist Ali Barter, a hidden gem off her 2014 EP called ‘Community’. The song uses the idea of being buried out at sea as a metaphor for a struggle to communicate in a relationship. Swirling with reverb-heavy synths, the lyrics are full of intense but beautiful imagery:

And I wait at the edge of an island
Cut my feet on a beach made of diamonds
And I run, and I’m ready for the silence

The vibe then changes wildly for the last section, focusing on that bittersweet euphoric feeling I feel encapsulates the image of a sailor staring out into a vibrant twilight, thinking about home as they crash through the waves. Gang of Youths track ‘unison’ is a prime example of this, with lyrics that move along like a series of thoughts and epiphanies laced in poetry, which are connected to songwriter David Le’aupepe’s desire to connect to home, culture and family – alive and passed away. 

When we get to the final two tracks, we’re hit with the most cliché of sailing songs, ‘Six Months in a Leaky Boat by Split Enz, which doesn’t need much of an introduction. The track has several interpretations: for me, it’s underscored by a sarcastic/mocking tone of the mindset of the English colonialists who invaded Aotearoa, the melancholy outro then representing a glimpse of the feeling left behind from the damage of the colonialists.

And finally, we end with ‘Hello Earth by Kate Bush, the final track of her 1984 album ‘Hounds of Love’. This track ends the concept section called ‘The Ninth Wave’, which tells the story of a woman lost at sea. It’s a huge track, laden with mystery and awe. I won’t say much about it other than recommend reading the lyrics while listening to it. 

And now we move on to a quick music video playlist! I’m going to talk about some music videos and films that vaguely inspired the vibe of the ‘How I Missed Home’ video. Check them out, plus a few others, at this link.

‘Maidentrip’ – Documentary about Laura Dekker

I’m starting with the documentary that inspired the song, which was mostly all filmed by Laura as she travelled around the world. I found it a very raw and inspiring documentary, particularly as I watched it during the depths of Melbourne’s lockdown. 

‘Six Months in a Leaky Boat’ – Split Enz

This one is the most obvious influence, from the dramatic vintage introduction to the fake smoky swaying ship set, and campy outfits, plus the references to Aotearoa. All these elements added to the idea of creating a video that feels like it could be on a stage at a theatre. 

‘This Woman’s Work’ – Kate Bush + other 1980s videos + ‘Twin Peaks’

There is a certain aesthetic in this video, and many other 80s music videos, that I’ve always been drawn to. A kind of surrealness that comes with capturing a dreamy melancholic feeling, while not trying to be realistic with acting or staging. It’s quite hard to explain, but the video of ‘This Woman’s Work is a fine example.

I love the way it carries this feeling through the sets and beats, almost like a play. Some other works that capture this feeling are ‘Cloudbusting’, also by Kate Bush, ‘Fields of Gold’ by Sting, ‘Voices Carry’ by ’Til Tuesday and TV show ‘Twin Peaks.

‘Heavenly’ – Sputnik Sweetheart

I discovered Sputnik Sweetheart (who are from my hometown of Canberra) from seeing this video one night watching Rage when I was recovering from long covid. I was transfixed by the video, and how the pulsating mournful energy of the song combined with the vintage dreamy aesthetic, all tied together with thoughtful editing and use of colour.

All elements that helped me discover what I think can make a great video.

‘Knees Deep’ – The Beths

Bonus video – This video taught me that a good simple idea connected to the song can make a great video, regardless of the budget. I always have such a big smile on my face after watching this one!

Check out Max Aurora & The Southern Lights, and their new release ‘How I Missed Home’