The title of Ava Max’s first headline tour—On Tour (Finally)—couldn’t be more fitting. It’s straightforward and a touch sassy, just like Max herself. It also nails the sentiment that was on the singer-songwriter’s mind when she was finally able to take the stage, three years after the release of her electrifying debut album, Heaven & Hell. “When I got on tour, I was expecting to really get stressed about it, like moving from city to city every day,” she shares. “But somehow it’s been a lot easier and fun—more fun than I ever thought it was going to be.”

Photography by Adam Kargenian

Before she was jet-setting across the world and performing sold-out shows, the budding artist worked hard to make a name for herself. After skyrocketing to fame with the 2018 breakout single “Sweet but Psycho,” the icy-blonde songstress dropped a string of successful singles, proving she was anything but a one-hit-wonder. Her fandom only increased upon the release of Heaven & Hell in 2020. Instantly-iconic tracks like “Kings & Queens” and “Not Your Barbie Girl” were unavoidable, whether playing on the radio, at the club, or in the background of countless TikToks. 

Max’s second album, 2023’s Diamonds & Dancefloors, cranks up the glitz and glam even further, delivering a new wave of sparkly dance-pop anthems about her past relationships, finding herself, and rising above the noise. It’s this album that’s the star of On Tour (Finally), though show attendees also get a sample of some of her earlier hits. Asked if she has a favorite song to perform from her varied setlist, the singer reveals, “It does change with every show, but most nights it’s ‘Hold Up (Wait A Minute).’ That’s a really fun one.”

Of course, Max’s stage presence is so powerful that every song on her setlist feels like a lead single. From the minute she steps into the spotlight in a glittery silver skirt set, mic in hand, you can feel the anticipation radiating from the crowd. All eyes are on her as she struts across the stage, belting out one of her high-octane hits or crooning an acoustic rendition of a softer song.  With limitless energy and impeccable vocals, the pop sensation knows how to put on a show. Perhaps the only one having a better time than the pumped-up crowds at her performances is Max herself. V caught up with her after her San Diego show in June to learn more about life on tour, pre-show rituals, her current playlist, and what’s next.

Read the exclusive conversation with the songstress below!

Photography by Adam Kargenian

V Magazine: Do you have any pre- or post-show rituals while you’re on tour?

Ava Max: Yes. I call it my spiritual ‘cutting the cord.’ It’s a kind of up-and-down motion with my hands. It’s not really religious, because people think it is, but it’s just cutting the energy cords and being super focused. It’s a spiritual thing where I snap my fingers up and down.

V: You’ve done quite a few shows already. Has there been one that was particularly magical?

AM: They’re all very different and unique, but I think the one I really remember well is—well, both of the Germany shows were pretty crazy. I think they were double the [venue] size, too.

V: Obviously, traveling and performing take up quite a bit of your time while you’re on tour, but have you had time to do any touristy things or simply take in any of the cities that you’ve performed in so far?

AM: A lot of the cities, I’ve been to before on the promo tour, but I didn’t have much time to go and check them out because on tour you’re in and out. But I try here and there to go for a walk around the city, and try the local food. But it’s really hectic on tour.

V: I can imagine! How does it feel to finally be bringing these songs from Diamonds & Dancefloors to an audience? Has performing them made you gain any new perspective on any of the songs?

AM: I love it so much. The only song that gets really emotional every night is “One Of Us,” when I sing it acoustically—because it’s about my last relationship. So it definitely hits home every night, but other than that, that’s the only one that reopens old wounds. [laughs.]

Photography by Adam Kargenian

V: Do you have a favorite song to perform, a kind of highlight of the show? Or does that change throughout the tour?

AM: I mean, it does change with each show. Most nights it’s “Hold Up (Wait A Minute).” That’s a really fun one.

V: Your costume at the San Diego show was so fabulous and sparkly! How did you decide on a look that would embody the album?

AM: For me, I don’t like being the center of attention on stage. It’s funny because every time I’m designing an outfit with someone, I just want it to be a little grungy and edgy and fun and cool. But also everyone’s like, “Oh, but they’ve got to see you from the stage.” So it’s a middle ground, you know? Because I don’t love being the center of attention, if that makes sense. It’s about finding a middle ground there.

V: Are you working on any new music right now?

AM: I am going to start working on new music, probably in late July. I’m really excited to start getting back in the studio and hopefully start the third album.

V: Do you have any ideas as far as new genres you want to explore, or anything regarding a direction that you’re thinking of going in?

AM: I think once I’m in the studio, it’ll hit me. Right now I’m just focused on the tour, and I don’t like to skip any steps. For me, it’s like whatever’s in front of me, I’m focused in on the present. But I definitely have thought about different genres and what I want to do for the next album. I can’t say much, but it’s definitely going to be me dabbling in some new sounds.

Photography by Jordan Kelsey Knight

V: What have you been listening to on the road? Who’s on your playlist right now?

AM: Literally everything! I’m loving this French artist. Indila. She has a song, “Dernière Danse.” Every time I get ready, I put it on. I love it so much and it’s really cool. Then old school, like Shakira and Rihanna’s “Can’t Remember to Forget You,” gets me going, too.

V: Anything else you want to share about life on tour?

AM: I’ve been so excited to be on tour, and I think now that I’ve started, I’m definitely not going to stop touring. That’s something I say in every show to let fans know that, you know, it did take a long time, but now we are not stopping.

For dates and tickets to “On Tour (Finally),” visit Ava Max’s official website.

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