Ava Max has continually dominated charts, radio and streaming platforms alike with her infectiously catchy singles ‘Sweet But Psycho’, ‘So Am I’ and recent smash hit ‘Kings & Queens’. With a huge traction originating from TikTok, the singer-songwriter is paving the way for a whole new wave of future artists with this alternative discovery platform.
With her debut album ‘Heaven & Hell’ slated for a September 18 release, she is ready to show listeners a distinct contrast to the different sides of her personality and music. With her new single ‘Who’s Laughing Now’ showing a more rhythmic leaning and slightly reggae influenced sound, she’s also got a little more experimental with an updated version of ‘Kings & Queens’ featuring Lauv and Saweetie.
I recently sat down with Ava Max over a socially distanced Zoom chat to discuss the creative process behind her new single ‘Who’s Laughing Now and the new version of ‘Kings & Queens’, discussed the weirdest place she’s heard one of her songs played, and found out what she’s hoping people will take away from her debut album ‘Heaven & Hell’. Check it out BELOW;
THOMAS BLEACH: Your new single, ‘Who’s Laughing Now’, is an empowering anthem dedicated to all of the people that have tried to stand in your way, and it’s such a rhythmically charged and catchy moment. So can you explain how it creatively came together?
AVA MAX: ‘Who’s Laughing Now’ is really all about being super involved with yourself, loving yourself and pushing yourself to be the best you can be. I feel like that message is so important more than ever before, especially in quarantine, with people not being able to travel and do things as much as they would like. It’s just an empowering song that I think we all need right now.
It was a song that came together really quickly compared to some of my other songs which I think is because it’s such a fun pop sound with a little bit of a dash of reggae. It already felt like a feel good song through the production, so it wasn’t too hard to fit in the correct lyrics to it.
TB: The accompanying music video for it is also such a playful and fun affair. Who was one of your favourite characters to portray during this video?
AM: My favourite character is probably the one in the psych ward with the curly red hair because I feel like it was such a strong representation of me and my journey when the music was visibly going out of her.
I wrote the video treatment with the director, which is something I do for all my videos, and that character was a representation of me growing up trying to make it in the music industry. As much as people tried to stop me and how hard the road was to make it, there was no stopping me as the music was coming out of my veins all along. So that’s what that represents!
TB: I love that! My favourite character was the one who was onto of the car smashing the window!
AM: *Laughs* Yes! I had so much fun filming that one!
TB: Last week you dropped ‘Kings & Queens’ Pt. 2 with Lauv and Saweetie which gave the song a whole new revamped edge. Why did these two artists feel like the perfect addition to this creative vision?
AM: I definitely wanted a guy and a girl for this version as I felt like it would be such a good moment for the song. It’s been out since March and I feel like it needed a little revamp, and in saying that, both of those artists are incredible so it just made sense to get them involved and do something fun.
TB: How did these collaborations occur?
I reached out to them and asked if they both wanted to be on the song, and they both said yes. So they recorded their verses and sent them over to me, and I loved them, so we then we put it out!
TB: You’ve previously said that you hope ‘Kings & Queens’ inspires people to live unapologetically and to realise your self-worth. So what personally inspired yourself to get to that moment where you could then pass on that feeling and realisation through this song?
AM: Growing up as a teenager we all go through different things, but for me I’ve always wanted to make it in the industry and there’s always been so many obstacles, even now, there’s always haters. I think the best thing you can do is show them your success.
TB: I love the lyric; “To all of the queens who are fighting alone. Baby, you’re not dancing on your own”. Can you explain your inspiration behind this line?
AM: Thank you! With that line in particular, it’s more-so that there are so many people in the world right now doing it alone, trying to make it alone and some without families and some without a lot or no friends. So it’s all about empowering people, even if they don’t have a close network, and just knowing that there are other people going through what you’re going through.
TB: Your debut album ‘Heaven & Hell’ will be finally released on September 18. What are you hoping fans will take away from listening to this record from start to finish?
AM: With this album, I really want them to go through the journey of lightness and darkness with me. I feel like all of the moods are in there as everything in-between light and dark have an ally. I think if you want to listen to something super bright and happy then you listen to the ‘Heaven’ side. And then if you don’t, then go to the ‘Hell’ side *laughs*.
There are also some in-between songs that have both and there are also some mellow vibey songs in there that people don’t expect from me. So I’m just excited for everyone to hear it!
TB: From releasing ‘Not Your Barbie Girl’ and ‘My Way’ in 2018 to where you are now ahead of releasing ‘Heaven & Hell’, how would you say you’ve grown as an artist?
AM: ‘Not Your Barbie Girl’ was one of the first songs that popped buzz on TikTok for me, and it was insane. At the time I thought it was weird, but I realised that they must’ve liked it. So we put it out on Spotify afterwards, as it was only on YouTube at the time, and after that we were just so excited to continue with the pop direction, and to give people unapologetic pop. So I went into the studio with a couple of writers producers and started to bang out some pop bangers.
I definitely found a confidence in myself from there as I realised that people related to what I related to.
TB: You’ve had huge radio and streaming success with ‘Sweet But Psycho’, ‘So Am I’ and ‘Kings & Queens’. So where has been one of the weirdest places you’ve heard one of your songs playing?
AM: The weirdest place is definitely in a bathroom while I was peeing *laughs*. That was definitely awkward, just trying to go to the bathroom in peace and then ‘So Am I’ was playing *laughs*.
TB: You were in Australia a year ago for a promotional visit. What was the biggest misconception you had about Australia that you discovered wasn’t true when you visited?
AM: I don’t really know! I did try Vegemite while I was there and I felt 50/50 about it. I liked it, but I don’t think I would eat it in the morning with toast. However I would eat in a little spoonful.
‘Heaven & Hell’ will be released on September 18!