When Sera Beth Timms came across a long, red wig at a store down the street from her home, the components of what would become LVXURI began to coalesce. “When I got the wig, I wanted to know who the character was,” says Timms by phone from Troy, New York. One thing was clear: “This isn’t Sera doing LVXURI.” Instead, the project centers around the character Aurora Dawn, a fierce and flamboyant woman with a mystical streak, who dispenses the tales of her life over slow, slithery grooves. On June 18, Timms releases her most recent LVXURI single, “Consulate Lust,” premiering exclusively on Audiofemme today.
At the time of LXURI’s inception, Timms lived in Los Angeles and was best known for her work as Black Mare and in the band Ides of Gemini. Where her previous projects had been heavy and more rock-oriented, Timms grew inspired by hip-hop beats, and was yearning to make something lighter and more danceable. She considered exploring different themes in her work as well. Somewhere in her notes, maybe a year or so earlier, she had written down the name Aurora Dawn. “I didn’t know who Aurora Dawn was or what I was going to do with Aurora Dawn, but I knew it had to do with the sun and some incarnation of solar energy,” she explains.
Timms had written one song and played it for two close friends— one of whom was photographer Nedda Afsari— and they decided to film a video for it on a planned trip to The Madonna Inn. “There are so many bands I know that have filmed in different rooms at the Madonna Inn. It’s such a great set,” says Timms of the hotel on California’s Central Coast that’s famed for its themed guestrooms. Timms found the wig right before that adventure and Aurora Dawn first came to life in the resulting clip for “Decussata,” released in 2019.
The video prompted an invitation to open for performance art rock outfit Stuntdriver at Los Angeles venue Zebulon. “I always need motivation to finish things because I’m always doing a million things at once,” says Timms. This show, she says, was a great opportunity to push herself to write more songs.
With her previous project, Black Mare, Timms made her own beats, but LVXURI required a different approach. “The beats for LVXURI are supposed to be a lot more sleek than the drums for Black Mare,” she says. “I started getting into that and realized that I didn’t have the chops to get as many songs done in that short amount of time to be ready for a show in a month.” She then turned to her friend Dylan Neal, from the band Thief, to collaborate with her.
Aurora Dawn and LVXURI continued to evolve in 2020, albeit not necessarily in a way that Timms anticipated. “I had all these grand ideas about performances that I was going to do and couldn’t do any of that in 2020,” she says. Instead, she began to incorporate mystical elements into Aurora Dawn’s personality and performance. As Aurora Dawn, Timms read tarot and sold crystals on Instagram.
She shot a few more videos as well. The clip for “Headlights” was made in the midst of the March 2020 lockdown in Los Angeles and was directed by her then-roommate Sean Russel Herman. “Aurora Dawn, the character, she loves to be directed and told what to do,” says Timms.
By the time Timms made the video for the song “Aurora Dawn,” her own life was in the midst of transition. “I was definitely living in a very intuitive zone,” she says. Timms left Los Angeles, initially to move in with a friend in Florida. On the drive east, she stopped in Las Vegas to film a video, without knowing which song she would shoot or, really, how she would do it. As a former video editor, Timms relied on her iPhone with a lens attachment for footage. “I was traveling by myself, with my cats, and I didn’t know anybody in Vegas,” she recalls. “There’s no real budget behind LVXURI, it’s just out of pocket for everything. I didn’t have the time or budget to hire a fancy camera person, so I just decided: let’s go with it. Let’s see what we can do, what we can get.”
“Consulate Lust” will be the last LVXURI single for a while, as Timms has plans to finish up work on a full-length release, which she says will include some of the previously released singles. Still, Aurora Dawn continues to have a hold on her creator. Timms shops specifically for the character, even when she’s not actively trying to build Aurora Dawn’s ultra-glam wardrobe. She says, “I go into an Aurora Dawn trance and I don’t even know what I’m doing.”