Ava Max Talks Debut Album ‘Heaven & Hell’

Ava Max Talks Debut Album ‘Heaven & Hell’

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Ava Max Talks Debut Album ‘Heaven & Hell’

Pop music's newest star talked LA, her album, and why she sometimes wants to punch a guy she also wants to kiss.

Pop music's newest star talked LA, her album, and why she sometimes wants to punch a guy she also wants to kiss.

Text: Sam Ford

For those who have seen Ava Max’s name and think they haven’t heard her music before, chances are they know “Sweet but Psycho” and “Kings & Queens.” Both tracks reached the top of charts around the world, and are now featured on the rising pop star’s debut album Heaven & Hell which released today via Atlantic Records. 

But the road to her new album wasn’t an easy one; Max spent years staying persistent to her dreams of making it in the music industry, and her debut album proves her right for doing so. While talking with V, Ava Max's humbleness and lively energy beamed through as she talked about her upbringing, the tribulations that come with moving to Los Angeles, and the tracks that mean the most to her on Heaven & Hell.

Head below for a look inside Ava Max’s world. 

Photo by Charlotte Rutherford

V Magazine Can you tell me more about your journey to how you got where you are today? In what ways did you manifest and go out and get what you wanted?

Ava Max So it’s a long story, but I’ll try and make it a little shorter for you. I started singing at a very young age and I always knew what I wanted to do, which was, in a way, a blessing and a curse. Being so young and knowing what you want to do but not knowing how to get there is super frustrating. But I’ve been doing this for a really long time and it’s taken about 10 to 15 years to get where I am. 

Ever since I was little I remember just wanting this one thing; singing and writing and everything like that. When I was about 21 years old, I met a producer who pretty much took me under his wing and let me create what I wanted to create in the studio. So after that, we put a song on SoundCloud and we got a lot of record deal offers. I ended up with Atlantic Records and I couldn’t be any happier, they’ve let me be who I want to be and the music we’re all making, it couldn’t be more me. After 15 years, the success of “Sweet but Psycho” proved why I did what I did.

V How did your upbringing in Milwaukee and Virginia as well as having parents who were immigrants influence your career? How did your mom being a classically trained vocalist influence you?

AM My parents were always supportive. They came to the states not knowing English and they didn’t have any money. I remember them folding up jeans as a pillow and being a kid, it really broke my heart because being that young, I didn’t understand. When they fled Albania they lived in France for a year at the Red Cross at a church and they always told me stories of how hard it was, like sneaking croissants for breakfast because they didn’t have enough money to buy breakfast. So then there was someone from Wisconsin who got them passports, and they ended up there and that’s where I was born. 

But they were always super supportive, especially doing what they did and working three jobs each here in America. They told me that if they could make it, I could make it. That really put everything in perspective; they didn’t know English, didn’t have money, and they still found a way to provide for my brother and me. Looking back at that, it made me feel like I can do anything and I have to work really hard and manifest it all. In a way, manifestation is working hard and seeing it in our heads first, but also having the universe feel you when you’re working hard. 

V Staying persistent in LA is usually hard, what kept you there and how do you think it benefited you as a person and artist?

AM I’m kind of a mutt, I’ve lived all over the place. I was born in Wisconsin, raised in Virginia, lived in South Carolina for a couple of years, and lived in California for a year when I was 14 to pursue music. But no one wanted to sign a 14-year-old singer. So we went back home and then I came back out to California again with my brother when I was 17. But it was so difficult, I literally knew no one, my brother didn’t know anyone and at the time he was helping manage me, which did not work out. I don’t think siblings, unless you guys are right on the same level, should manage you. It was very difficult to take orders from my brother! So I was pretty much in LA alone trying to make my way and meet producers and songwriters to collaborate with. It was so difficult. I remember going door to door trying to see who I could work with and a lot of the time I felt so discouraged and depressed. I started drinking at a younger age and had gotten down a really bad path, and then I kind of got out of it once I met a producer named Cirkut. He really helped me fulfill my dreams in a way. 

But it was hard, it was very hard. I lived off of 20 dollars a week and my two girlfriends who’ve been with me for about 9 years here in LA, I actually just paid them back for all the meals they had paid for me. They were like, Finally!

V With your debut album coming out, what are some tracks you feel most connected to?

AM This is a tough one! I love all the songs, they’re all my babies. I do love “OMG What’s Happening” and it’s one of my favorites on the album. If you asked my friend she would say it’s goofy, like it’s strong, but it’s also goofy. And that kind of describes me, I don’t take myself seriously at all, but in the bridge I’m saying I want to punch this guy which describes me perfectly because I say that to every guy. I want to kiss him but I want to punch him! 

Heaven & Hell is really just about the emotions we go through, it has nothing to do with religion. If someone feels like it has to do with their religion, to each their own, but for me personally Heaven & Hell relates to the emotions we go through every single day in relationships, with our partners, and careers. Every single day of our lives is like a rollercoaster of emotions and that’s what the song means to me and I find it kind of relatable because all of us go through ups and downs. But truly, most of the songs on the album define how I feel in relationships.

V What else do you have in store for the rest of 2020?

AM There is a lot in store! I can’t say much but the album is coming out on September 18th and I’m really excited for it to be out. But there will be no shortage of music after that, and it feels good!

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